The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted, even destroyed, lives and livelihoods across Africa and the rest of the world. In Rwanda, some businesses have shut down and others are struggling to recover and stay afloat.
Businesses run by people living with disabilities have been particularly hard hit. The Rwanda National Union of the Deaf (RNUD) estimates more than 300 individually owned businesses and cooperatives which have been affected.
Most of these businesses are small and medium and do not have cash reserves that they can use as capital to recover. For their recovery, they need support in order to ensure continuity, adaptation or survival.
Through partnership with the RNUD, UNDP provided five cooperatives of deaf and hard of hearing people with capital injections to help them get back on their feet.
The support enabled them to expand their businesses and take advantage of new opportunities and products developed as way to adapt to the new situation.
The supported cooperatives are in Muhanga, Huye, Rutsiro and Kicukiro Districts. Each cooperative received Rwf2.5 million. The fifth cooperative from Musanze District was awarded an Innovation Grant of Rwf2.5 million to implement an innovative project meant to make soaps and Kandagira Ukarabe (mobile handwashing points) as a contribution to efforts deployed to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
Some of the cooperatives used the funds to revamp their business activities and others diversified their businesses by adding new products that are in high demand such as face masks and liquid soaps to adapt to the new market and business models as in the case of Musaze district cooperative.
Before resuming their activities, cooperative members were trained on protective measures to safely return to business.