The U.S Embassy’s Julia Taft Fund is attributed to various projects worldwide with the objective of improving the living conditions of refugees and displaced populations. This grant is not meant as an emergency fund, instead it is allocated to sustainable development projects proposed and implemented by local non- governmental organizations.
In this context, Global Humanitarian and Development Foundation’s (GHDF) Vocational Training and Sustainable Access to Financial services for Investments (SAFI) was selected by the U.S Embassy in Rwanda and initiated in September 2015 in Kigeme Refugee Camp. Thanks to the support from the Julia Taft Fund, 105 refugees aged between 18 and 35 years of age benefited from trainings in ICT, tailoring and financial education to promote business development. After completing the training, the participants were grouped into saving and loan associations and finally linked to formal financial institutions in order to get access to loans for investment.
Chief Executive of GHDF, Mr. Karangwa Patrick
Beneficiary explaining saving and loan methodology
September 23rd 2016, a graduation ceremony was organized to underline the achievements of the beneficiaries who completed the trainings over the past year. The Minister in charge of Refugee Affairs, Honorable Seraphine Mukantabana, the U.S. Embassy’s Acting Deputy Chief of Mission in Rwanda, Mr. Jimmy Aguirre along with local authorities, and representatives of UNHCR and other humanitarian organizations attended the ceremony. After the welcoming remarks, GHDF’s Chief Executive, Mr. Patrick Karangwa, explained how the project was carried out and emphasized the fact that 75% of the graduates are girls.The guests were then invited to visit a small exhibition showcasing the skills and products which resulted from the trainings.
Graduates representative Kanyoni Innocent showing what has been learned throughout the project
Acting Deputy Chief of Mission of U.S. Embassy Mr. Jimmy Aguirre
Mr. Aguirre admitted that he was very impressed by all the accomplishments of the graduates and hopes that they can pass on these skills to colleagues, families and friends throughout the camp. He also reminded “the purpose of this project is to increase the potential of youth to get and create jobs to improve their living conditions”.
Mr. Said Osman, Acting Deputy Representative of UNHCR, mentioned that “these are precisely the sort of activities UNHCR has envisaged in its livelihood strategy and it is our hope that this is the beginning of a more comprehensive self-reliance and livelihood strategy in Rwanda”. He also added : “while relatively small number of people benefited from this project, their importance should not be ignored as they represent the first step towards finding sustainable solutions and empowering refugees to have productive lives and the dignity they deserve”.
Mr. Said Osman, Acting Deputy Representative of UNHCR (right) and Mr. Jimmy Aguirre (left) handing a certificate to an ICT graduate.
Hon. Minister of MIDIMAR, Mukantabana Seraphine (left) handing a certificate to a Tailoring graduate.
After rewarding the graduates with certificates of completion, Honorable Minister Mukantabana stated that “the Government of Rwanda puts job creation as one of the strong pillars of economic growth” but that hard work and dedication are essential for businesses to succeed. The graduates have already started producing and selling clothes, bags and liquid soap ; and they have also prepared a business plan to open a Cyber Café in Kigeme. GHDF will continue supporting these initiatives in order to extend their market and assist the savings groups as they accumulate more capital and venture into different income generating activities.