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Cordaid NL
Private Sector Development Uganda

Cordaid and RUFI bring affordable finance to refugee businesses

Imvepi refugee settlement is a refugee camp based in West Nile, Uganda. Established in 2017, it is now home to as many as 100,000 people, seeking refuge from the conflict in South Sudan. It is here, that Cordaid and the Rural Financial Initiative (RUFI), a local micro-finance institution, will work together to provide increased access to affordable finance for refugees to establish new businesses.

(2018. Young entrepreneurs at work in Imvepi settlement. © Cordaid) 

Investing in sustainable livelihoods

Cordaid and RUFI believe micro-entrepreneurship is an integral component of providing sustainable livelihoods. To fully enable refugees’ post-recovery reintegration, and support their entrepreneurship, Cordaid and her partner TPO provided mental health and psychosocial support as well as basic necessities, as part of its humanitarian mission.

The Remedy Loan Product has helped many widows, youth and farmers regain productive and entrepreneurial skills.

Benefits for the flourishing of the community are multi-faceted; an established and functioning business improves income generation, which can be put towards meeting educational costs, increased food security, and long-term saving funds. The creation of social networks can strengthen community cohesion while promoting knowledge exchange and shared learning to enhance productivity.

Building resilient refugee and host communities

The partnership with Rufi in Imvepi, is part of a wider programme in the refugee settlement, called ‘Building Resilient Refugee and Host Communities’, which Cordaid started implementing with partners Caritas Arua and TPO in the Spring of 2019. It combines access to basic needs such as safe water and sanitation facilities (WASH), community-managed disaster risk reduction, psychosocial support, and private sector development. This integrated approach aims to have a positive impact on both refugee and host communities, strengthening their self-reliance and resilience.

Fleeing comes with huge financial loss

In addition to Imvepi, RUFI is also offering Finance for Refugees in Palorinya, Bidibidi, Pagirinya, Maaji, and Yangani Refugee Settlements. Services offered include Loans of varying categories and savings services as agents of Centenary Bank. To address the needs of refugees who lost all working capital while fleeing the home country, RUFI is offering the Remedy Loan Product which finances the beneficiaries using the LOG Funding Model (Loan, Own Contribution, and Grant). This has helped many widows, youth and farmers regain productive and entrepreneurial capabilities through skills development and financing. Over 3,500 refugees have so far benefited from RUFI’s services.

Refugee food vendor at her business in Morobi settlement. © RUFI

Bringing great ideas to successfull fruition

In February, Cordaid will start supporting refugees in Imvepi settlement to develop ideas for new community businesses to provide community members with sustainable livelihoods. The most promising ideas will be selected for development and budding entrepreneurs will receive formal training and ongoing coaching to bring their ideas to successful fruition. RUFI will play a key role in managing small loans to bring these ideas to life.

Refugee youth proudly showing visitors their rice farm in Obongi District. © RUFI

By stimulating the entrepreneurial growth of small businesses in and around Imvepi camp, Cordaid supports self-reliance within refugee and host communities, while transitioning away from humanitarian response towards resilient and sustainable livelihoods.

This video shows how RUFI offers finance and economic opportunities to South Sudanese refugees in Uganda:

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Find out more about Cordaid’s work strengthening community resilience in Uganda, or about our work in private sector development.