Kakuma refugee group effort to be self-reliant
It is easy to assume that life in a refugee camp is all about desperation. But Mr Innocent Havyarimana, 31, a judicious businessman, chairman and founder of Furaha group, believes otherwise. Havyarimana – a Burundian business champion – spends most of his time mentoring other refugees on the need to start a business in order to be self-reliant.
“The current hardships in the camp, a desire for personal satisfaction and a need to partner with other like-minded business people to boost profits drove me to start Furaha group in January 2015,” says Havyarimana, who has lived in the camp for two years. He adds: “Together, we grew and became a hub of knowledge, skills, and experience and this has caused our business to expand steadily.”
Furaha group; made up of five members-two female and three male (Violette Nahayo, Easter Twagirayeze, Erir Niyizombona, and Sudi Kado) has been working closely with AAH Kenya. In February 2015, AAH Kenya, through the Kakuma Refugee Assistance Programme (KRAP) sent a call for loan applications and the group qualified for an advanced loan of KSh100,000 (USD 1000) upon meeting the laid down criteria of selection. The group used the loan to purchase a second hand posho (maize) mill which was refurbished and installed in Kakuma Three in October 2015.
Although of the group members did not have prior business experience, they resolved to run the venture as per the loan commitment. At the inception of the business, each member was pursuing other personal commitments. Following numerous discussions, they agreed on a work schedule.
One month into the business, Havyarimana remarks: “Our financial picture is quite promising. We make Ksh 20,000 (about$200) cash in hand per month excluding expenses that total up to 11,050 (USD110).”
During a recent visit to the posho (maize) mill, by the AAH Kenya Country Programme Manager, Dr Kamau Githaiga the group reported that it intended to pay back the loan within the shortest period of time in order to apply for a new loan to buy another posho mill.
“I am very impressed by your record-keeping. You understand business and are quick to repay your loan,” Githaiga told the group members.
The demand for cereal grinding is on the increase as many refugees have access to these maize or millet mill. Maize and millet make up for the highest quantities of cereals brought to the posho mill for grinding. The miller serves an average of 15 clients daily.
Furaha is a typical refugee group which demonstrates that livelihood should be geared towards enabling refugees to be self-reliant. Furthermore, they should also be the source of business innovation within the larger refugee camp.