Patapia, the bank for women refugeesBack to investments
Aime Rebecca is a refugee and entrepreneur from DRC who is building Patapia - a bank for women refugees in Uganda.
Refugee Survival, a Challenge
Uganda is one of the leading refugee-hosting countries with over 1.5M refugees whose sole survival is dependent on handouts. The World Food Program gives refugees $5.4 per head or equivalent in food rations per month, barely enough to sustain. As a result, many refugees are left in vulnerable situations with no additional means to supplement. This situation is exacerbated for women-led households and urban refugees. For example, 81% of the refugees in Uganda are women and children, and 64% of the homes are women-led (UNHCR 2020). As for urban refugees, Kampala alone has over 80,000 refugees who don't receive any aid, according to the refugee policy.
In the absence of financial assistance, many women and girls - to support their families - struggle and depend on "3D" jobs (Dirty, Dangerous, and Demanding), with many exposed to exploitation and abuse. And with the increasing donor fatigue that affects the capacity to support refugees, there is a need for refugees to become self-sustainable.
The Patapia Approach
Patapia provides an economic engine to allow the refugees to start and run small businesses through a community-financing model. Patapia offers refugee women micro-loans, access to savings accounts and the support to start and successfully run their businesses and ultimately create their own jobs.
"We journey with each woman from the idea to financing and growth of the businesses. Our program includes training and mentoring from a team of experienced mentors and entrepreneurs while translating business development tools to an everyday laywoman. Our business investment requires no collateral and has a low monthly interest. Through a community-based trust approach, we get the women to hold each other accountable through business families."
All profits generated through the interests are re-invested into more businesses for sustained impact growth.
"Key partnerships allow us to offer digital mobile banking solutions and bridge the digital divide. Access to mobile banking services enables the women to save, withdraw, and pay back loans using their phones anytime, anywhere."
The Founding story
Aime Rebecca came to Uganda in 2010 as a refugee from DR. Congo. At 13, she dropped out of school to care for her family since her mother, the sole provider, could no longer walk due to back problems. With no way to get a job, Rebecca got a job as a hawker, which exposed her to exploitation. Unfortunately, Rebecca was raped twice as a hawker and survived ritual sacrifice once. Because she had no other means for survival, she had to continue hawking.
In 2016, Rebecca got a scholarship from SINA, which empowers marginalised youth to become social entrepreneurs. The training gave her the understanding that she could transform her suffering into an opportunity.
In 2020, Rebecca founded Patapia to ensure that other refugee women and girls have a shot at a better life and do not suffer as she and her mother did.
Since launching, Patapia has trained 200 refugee women in Kampala, out of which 120 have been financed and run their own businesses. Out of the 120 businesses financed, 118 are still operating. In addition, the women make on average $100 a month from their businesses compared to the $14 they used to get a month by doing odd jobs like house cleaning. Because of the increased revenues, 95% of the women financed said they could provide food and other basic needs for their families after starting their businesses.
The immediate impact from Kwanda financing
A grant from Kwanda will be used to train and finance more women. With £3000, Patapia will train and finance ten women in the first month and at least one more woman every month from the repayments. By year's end, Patapia will have trained and financed 34 women. They will be providing better living conditions for their children through their businesses.
The Wider Impact
Patapia intends to build a bank for the unbanked. By supporting Patapia, we are helping the building of a bank that is not about amassing profits but instead helping marginalised communities to become economically stable and attain better livelihoods.
In two years, Patapia aims to have set up two other branches in two refugee locations in Uganda, impacting over 5000 refugees. And in 5 years, it aims to launch in two more countries in East Africa.