Refugee Innovation Centre: Inspiring change among refugees in Uganda

9 February 2022 | Member Stories

Refugee Innovation Centre Catalyst 2030 member story

SDG 4 Quality Education SDG 5 Gender Equality SDG 7 Affordable and clean energy

Catalyst 2030 member, Refugee Innovation Centre is a refugee-led organisation based in Rwamwanja Refugee Settlement in Uganda, helping to empower other refugees through digital literacy and access to information.

Social entrepreneurs are known for finding solutions for society’s problems. What is the problem that you are addressing, and what is your solution?

Rwamwanja refugee camp hosts more than 78,000 refugees. Of these, 97% are from the Democratic Republic of Congo whilst the other 3% is made up of South Sudanese, Burundian and Rwandan refugees. Most of the refugees do not earn enough to satisfy their basic needs, and finding money for food, water, health and education is a daily struggle.

Refugee Innovation Centre aims to break the poverty cycle by empowering young refugees, offering a space to learn digital skills, gain access to information and apply for better job opportunities. One outcome has been that young adolescent refugee girls in the settlement have learned about menstrual hygiene, and RIC has been able to provide them with reusable sanitary pads kits for annual use. RIC also makes bicycles available for transport and to help access support for elders, orphans and people living with disabilities within the settlement.

What do you see as the benefit of your Catalyst 2030 membership?

With Catalyst, there is a lot of learning, especially from other organisations.

Are you collaborating with any other Catalyst 2030 members?

Yes. We are collaborating with Lifeline Energy and TrueFootprint to improve digital literacy and access to information within underserved communities.

What inspired the creation of Refugee Innovation Centre?

Before Olivier Nkunzurwanda, founder of RIC, fled to Uganda, he used to listen to wind-up radios which were distributed in his community. The radio opened his eyes to many things. He learned about conflict resolution mechanisms and how to cope with feelings of revenge after the genocide in Rwanda. It was through listening to stories about a refugee who made the choice to improve the life of his own people that Olivier was inspired to devote his own life to making a difference in his community.

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