Supporting Underserved and Marginalised Groups

Provision of financial services to refugees and their host communities


The project is a result of a joint strategy between the Ministry of Emergency Management (MINEMA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to support the economic inclusion of refugees in Rwanda. The strategy objective is to ensure that all refugees will be able to fulfill their productive potential as self-reliant members of Rwandan society by the year 2020. This would contribute to economic development of their host districts.

Therefore, Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR) in partnership with FSD Africa, UNHCR and MINEMA are supporting the development of market-based innovative solutions to address the financial needs of Forcibly Displaced People (FDP) and their host communities. The intervention started with a reseach conducted by Bankable Frontier Associates (BFA) in July 2017 to provide market intelligence that would build a sound business case for the Financail Service Providers (FSPs) to profitably serve refugees.


The study was followed by an innovation competition among different players in the financial sector and the best four proposals/institutions were selected. These include; Umutanguha Finance Company, MTN Rwanda, Equity Bank, and MFS Africa. AFR is supporting Umutanguha Finance Company and MTN Rwanda, and FSD Africa is supporting Equity Bank and MFS Africa.

Project overview/Key highlights:

Project name Provision of financial services to refugees and their host communities
Implementing partners Umutanguha Finance Company, Frankfurt School of Finance, MTN Rwanda
Project period > 2 years (October 2018 to November 2020)
Download the Full Project Brief


Refugees and their host communities accessing and using digital and non-digital financial services.

The Project Hypothesis

The project leverages on the shift from giving out food and non-food items to providing cash to refugees by UNHCR and World Food Program. FSPs can, therefore, provide affordable financial products to the refugees to help them start or grow their businesse. As a result, refugees will become self-reliant and contribute towards Rwanda’s economic development.

The project starts with a pilot phase in Mahama and Kigeme Refugee Camps and will eventually be scaled up to Mugombwa and Gihembe refugee camps.

Success Story

The partnership attracted the interest of an FSP – Umutanguha Finance Company (UFC).

UFC is opening an office in Mahama camp, which was not in their initial plan to be able to serve the refugees effectively.

The project created the partnership between the public and private sector, where they are all going to work in the same camp for the interest of the refugees.
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