By Elias Hakizimana.
A new fund project was inaugurated yesterday October 31st 2018 in Kigali by Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) to support Rwanda’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy that promotes financial inclusion of refugees in Rwanda.
The project is a joint initiative of a local financial service provider, Umutanguha Finance Company Ltd, and a mobile operator Airtel/Tigo and they will develop and provide digital financial services targeting refugees in the country.
It comes to implement the letter of Understanding between the AFR, Ministry of Emergency Management and UNHCR to support Rwanda’s National Financial Inclusion Strategy that promotes financial inclusion of refugees in the country.
Mr. Amit Chawla, the Airtel Chief Executive Officer said that the initiative is a milestone to support the cashless economy the country has put in significant efforts.
“At Airtel, we are always driven by the desire for innovation and inclusiveness. We are therefore proud to be part of this project that will serve a unique segment. We are going to provide an infrastructure to facilitate ‘pull and push’ functionality for refugee clients, and support marketing activities as well,” Chawla noted.
According to the AFR Country Director Ms.Waringa Kibe, the project will be implemented through providing technical assistance to the financial institution (Umutanguha Financial Company) and the telecommunication company (Airtel/Tigo) to allow them develop and offer digital financial service to the refugees in the most convenient and cost effective way.
She said that refugees will be able to access to financial services such as opening bank accounts, mobile wallets, consumption loans, savings scheme and others, which have been challenges.
“With over 65 million of Forcibly Displaced People in the world, 15 million being in Africa alone, refugees represent a huge financial inclusion opportunity to the market; we expect this project to trigger the market to start serving this segment,” says Ms. Waringa Kibe, the AFR Country Director.
Roselyne Uwamahoro, Head of SACCO’s and Savings Groups at AFR explained that the project will start with developing and offering two types of loans; digital consumption loan (little amount) and light touch loan for small scale businesses.
She further enlightened that there will be a mechanism through which loan officers will go to camps and carry out the financial and non-financial assessment of the businesses to determine credit worthiness.
On the side of the Ministry of Emergencies, the project comes as a response to the joint strategy signed with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to further Economic Development in Host Communities through Refugee Self-Reliance (2016-2020).
Mr. Jules Theoneste Ndahayo, the Umutanguha Finance Company Chief Executive Officer expresses gratitude towards extending financial services and products to refugees in Rwanda.
He noted that in addition to administering the saving and lending programme for refugees, Umutanguha Financial Company will provide financial education and an entrepreneurship programme that will be key for success in offering financial services to such a special segment.
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