AFR's COVID-19 Response

iHuzo Project


In light of the pandemic, it has become clear that the value propositions of digital adoption and digital commerce are higher for society at large, by providing continuity of essential services and goods and by offering contactless, cashless transactions.

AFR has identified the need for interventions that would speed up digital adoption and support productive livelihoods for young adults through digital commerce amid the response to the global pandemic and part of an existing national ICT growth strategy. AFR initiated the project: iHuzo (Accelerating growth of Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) through expanding the e-commerce sector in Rwanda) with the aim of spurring the growth of livelihoods and employment opportunities through e-commerce, to address the barriers and promote an enabling market system for e-commerce with onboarding MSEs into the digital economy at the core.


The main objectives are:

Onboard up to 1,500 non-digital local MSE businesses into e-commerce and digital commerce platforms
Establish network of at least 100 e-commerce specific centers or cafes to support MSES to onboard onto e-commerce and digital commerce platforms to employ youths as iWorkers
Increase trust and quality in marketplace by addressing challenges of matching, reputation management, information that foster iWorker employment generation.
Enhance public-private dialog between government and the private sector to align priorities and address market gaps.
Create linkages and partnerships with lenders willing to test alternative methods of credit assessment and other development programs promoting the growth of MSEs.


Accelerating Growth of MSMEs Through Expanding the E-Commerce Sector in Rwanda


This publication draws on the evaluation of the ‘Accelerating Growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Through Expanding the E-commerce Sector in Rwanda (iHuzo) Project’. The evaluation was undertaken following the completion of the pilot phase of the project. This learning brief highlights the project’s impact in line with its theory of change, and presents the lessons learned from implementing the project. The intention of the learning brief is to shape future interventions in the e-commerce space, both in Rwanda and in the broader region.

Project Achievements
In the one year and nine months that the pilot phase of the project ran, 3,938 MSMEs (38% female-owned and 58% youth-owned) were onboarded onto digital commerce platforms and 2,391 iWorkers (35% female and 95% youth) were onboarded into the e-commerce ecosystem in Rwanda. As shown in the figure below, a majority of the onboarded MSMEs were male-owned, youth-led, based in Kigali city and operating on e-commerce platforms. Similarly, a majority of onboarded iWorkers were male, youth and were based in Kigali city.
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