Economic Inclusion and Development

Rwandan Context

Rwanda is stable country with a sustained economic growth over the last two decades, despite the COVID-19 pandemic which temporarily dampened growth worldwide. The GDP per capita has grown from $125.5 (1994) to $833 (2021) and the current Government programme Vision 2050 projects the long-term strategic direction for the Country to reach upper middle-income status by 2035 and high income by 2050. 

The first seven years of the path to Rwanda’ s Vision 2050 are actualized through the National Strategic Transformation (NST1 2017-2024), providing pillars for accelerated transformation in the areas of economy, social protection and governance, while emphasizing sustainability of results and inclusiveness of development for all, including refugees. The NST1 integrates global, regional commitments and international frameworks such as the Global Compact for Refugees.  

Within this framework, there are many opportunities for the inclusion of refugees within Rwanda’s development. To support this aim, the Ministry in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA) of the Government of Rwanda and UNHCR launched a joint strategy on Economic Inclusion of Refugees and Host Communities for 2021-24 which aims at graduating refugees from extreme poverty. 

Adopting the concept of Humanitarian-Peace – Development Nexus

Over the coming years UNHCR will increasingly place emphasis on supporting refugee’s economic inclusion, particularly through working with our development partners such as the World Bank, GiZ, CARE, Caritas and so forth.  These partners are also supporting the communities that host refugees to ensure that the overall economy of a region is buoyed up by the presence of refugees. 

UNHCR and partners hope to encourage self-reliance, build resilience to shocks and make investments to support the graduation of refugees out of poverty while reducing the potential for frictions within the communities. In addition, UNHCR and partners aim to ensure that refugees are equipped with skills which enable them access to local, regional and global markets, regardless of their status. 

When refugees are included in communities from the outset, such as through access to education and labour markets, they can build their skills and contribute to local economies, fuelling the development of the communities hosting them. 


In order to support the economic inclusion of refugees, together with our partners, UNHCR implements a range of livelihood activities in the following areas: 

  • enhancing socio-economic data about the refugee population in Rwanda in order to identify the most vulnerable households and those which have the potential to become self-sufficient 
  • boosting technical and entrepreneurial market driven skills through livelihood training and the development of business plans 
  • providing regular and time-bound consumption support to enable them to meet their basic needs 
  • providing lumpsum cash grants for employment start-ups 
  • developing refugees’ ability to save money as a tool to access finance and build resilience  
  • ensuring the close mentorship and coaching of all beneficiary populations on life skills in a way that develops their self-confidence