The National Bank of Rwanda (BNR) is partnering with Survivors Fund (SURF) to deliver support to relatives of it’s former employees who were killed during the genocide against the Tutsi in 1994.

BNR is supporting income generating activities for 24 families of former employees. SURF staff  help each family to develop a project, which are then given RWF 5 million (about £5,000) to implement their projects. Appolinaire is aged 46, and is a member of one of the 24 families who are receiving the grant. She lives in Nyamirabo. Appolinaire lost all her family during the genocide. She is a sister to Theoneste who was an employee of the National Bank.

An atmosphere of confidence and empowerment fills the room when she begins to speak. With the grant she set up a small wholesale business and used the balance to buy a piece of land.  She is now a businesswoman whose life has been transformed ever since she started business. She sells sugar and rice among other items. She has received training in bookkeeping, proposal writing and basic accounting.

“Through such projects, I have been empowered with knowledge and confidence. This has endowed me with the passion to become a businesswoman and to help other women to become self-reliant too Today, I am a member of the business network at sector level.” she noted.

Appolinaire concludes that she is a much better, confident and knowledgeable woman today because of the business she is doing. She is able to save Frw 40,000 (about £40) per month after paying all the expenses. From the savings she made she has been able to renovate her house and install electricity.

Many institutions conduct commemoration events for former employees who were killed during the genocide, but no substantial support is provided to surviving families of former staff.  In some cases support has been provided in form of food aid, however such support does not lead to self-reliance. We are advocating for other institutions to follow the lead of the National Bank of Rwanda approach, which not only addresses the immediate needs, but ensures the self-sufficiency, through the support it provides.

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