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IN 1996 CIVIL war erupted in what was then Zaire and is now the conflict-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Karasira Mboniga managed to escape, eventually settling in the Kiziba refugee camp in Rwanda, and working as a secondary-school teacher. But he says that his life changed for ever when he started his own business in 2008, selling food and performing money transfers.

That business came under threat when the pandemic hit earlier this year. But Mr Mboniga was one of many refugees to be helped by the African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC), a charity which started to disburse grants from a special covid-19 relief fund in June.

AEC, which started in Rwanda in 2012, has had a focus on job creation from the start. Eventually it realised that helping refugees would serve that aim, as jobs would also be created in the host community. Until the pandemic, it focused on making loans, rather than grants, to small businesses.

Its new covid-19 fund was established with help from the MasterCard Foundation, the payment processor’s charitable arm. It has already helped almost 4,000 entrepreneurs; 91% of the businesses that were closed have since reopened. On average, the ventures have managed to increase their staff by a third within a month of receiving a grant.

Sara Leedom of the AEC says the charity has put...

via Business Feeds

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