Bizimana Francois’s Story from Nairobi, Kenya

Published
June 2, 2021

REI provides funding for the Refugee Engagement and Empowerment Programme (REEP) in Nairobi, Kenya, which provides literacy and numeracy classes as well as professional training and job placements to assist refugees in the city to help them integrate into their host community and support themselves financially. The program is especially important in a country that hosts one of the largest refugee populations in Africa and where refugees in urban areas often face poverty and exploitation through jobs with unfair wages in unsafe conditions.

Bizimana Francois is a Rwandan refugee who had to flee the country during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. After arriving in Kenya with his mother and brothers, Francois looked for ways to make a living and in 2015 began selling “mandazi,” a snack of sweet fried bread, for a daily income of about 1000 Kenya shillings ($9.28 USD, ¥1021 JPY). 

Through the support of REEP, Francois has been able to develop his entrepreneurial skills and expand his production capacity to sell 21,000 Kenya shillings worth of mandazi a day. He has also moved his business to bigger premises, employed 2 young Kenyan refugees, and is currently working on turning his business into a cafe. Francois serves as a role model to many young refugees in the region. He is motivated, achieving, and proud of what he does in supporting himself and others using his small business.

Project funding covers the cost of conducting workshops, legal aid clinics, and training classes to help refugees become self-reliant. You can support REEP by making a donation here.