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Innovative refugee entrepreneurs building life-changing businesses

By Opportunity International

Our work with refugees enables people to move from dependency to self-reliance. Build their own businesses. And, work their own way out of poverty. It provides 12,000 refugee households with access to financial products and services to establish sustainable livelihoods.

The best part of our work is hearing the stories from our clients. We've got three new inspiring stories to share with you about refugees overcoming challenges using their financial skills, innovative ideas and determination...

Meet, Rose, the diversifying entrepreneur – who runs a shop, has installed a bar and is planning to buy a pool table.

The Nakivale Family Saving Group, who no longer meet under a tree, have added structure to their meetings and are now savings so successfully that they are able to loan money to other people in their community!

And, the Wenzetu Community Group, who have grown from just four parents trying to secure education for their disabled children to a community group of 130 members with approximately 140 children.

Our refugee clients are paving the way for others in their expanding businesses. We want to share some of their stories with you as we celebrate their achievements during refugee week 2022.

Craft group, sitting together showing the bags and beaded accessories they've created


The Wenzetu group first formed as four parents who wanted to bring together their disabled children and provide them some schooling. They were a support group for one another.  Since starting financial literacy training with Opportunity International’s partner the group has grown to 130 members, with approximately 140 children.

Inspired by financial literacy training the group started savings cycles so they could buy basic things. But, they weren’t making much money. So, the Wenzetu group thought about their existing skills and established different businesses. Some members are farming (about 60 members) and another group of 15 are doing craft. Everyone joined a group depending on their skills and interests.

The financial literacy training has helped them to ‘develop strong hearts’ and, while there are still challenges accessing capital, they now felt more confident. It also helped them ‘recognise that women can do business and that businesses were not just for men.’

Many members in the group have developed successful businesses.  One of them is a business that makes makes crafts and weaves beautiful baskets out of banana fibres. Business is booming and you can see the merchandise on their own Instagram page @wenzetu_center

The group hasn’t just learnt business skills and established businesses, but they are now caring for other vulnerable children and single mothers.

 Large family savings group standing together in the sun outside their office


This saving group is now doing so well that it's providing loans to other people in the community. In 2019 the family saving group took part in financial literacy training with Opportunity Bank Uganda (OBUL). The 30 members have a great system, saving 12,000 per week (approximiately £2.63). Giving 2,000 toward group activities and 10,000 into savings. The savings are distributed each year to the group.

But, the savings can also be given out as loans to members and non-members. The group reported helping 200 women by lending to non-members. They’ve hired an office space so that they don’t have to meet underneath a tree anymore and are hoping to become banking agents for OBUL.

Their enterprise, planning and focus is seeing growth and more people helped in their communities.

Ruth, stands smiling in her shop surrounded by produce, drinks and snacks


Rose is a member of the Family Savings Group. She's used a loan from Opportunity Bank Uganda to expand her retail business making her entrepreneurial ideas a reality. She wanted to add to what she already had in her small shop, and has built a bar. When she's paid off her currently loan (she'll have paid off her repayments by the time you read this) she plans to buy a pool table to add to the bar. She's got lots of ideas to encourage more young people to use her bar, and in turn choose her shop over any others to buy snacks and drinks. 


If you’d like to support our R:ISE Refugee Innovations Self-Reliance and Empowerment project and help us to reach more refugees as they develop their skills, get access to finance providers and ultimately create businesses that give them a sustainable income to send their children to school, put nutritious meals on the tables and provide more opportunities for others - then please donate today.

Thank you!

We'd love it if you could help us spread the word about our work with refugees and share this blog on your social media channels, help us to reach new people with stories about our inspiring refugee clients. Use the links below.



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