Our Interview with Norrsken East Africa

Meet Frida K., Norrsken House Kigali member and the founder of Amashami, a company that builds the self-reliance of refugee communities through entrepreneurship. In other words, she is an entrepreneur empowering other entrepreneurs— a perfect fit for Norrsken.

 So tell us, what is your business focused on right now?
Amashami provides refugees with an enabling environment for their ventures to scale up and grow. Currently, we are based in the Kirehe camp, one of the biggest camps in Rwanda that is also currently expanding, and we focus on a variety of refugee-ran businesses, for example, growing commodity crops for export. We currently employ about 27 refugees in this camp, and we pay them daily.

What made you start this business?
I realized that there was a need for a self sustaining business model for refugees. The reason that I work with refugees is that they are very competent people. My agronomist himself is a refugee, with a bachelor’s degree. And had it not been for him, my project wouldn’t have been successful. My credit goes to my refugees that I’m employing, rather than myself.

There’s a stigma around refugees, especially for those in urban settings. They are excluded from business proposals, and big organizations in terms of funding, but they run their own profitable business, just like any other Rwandese.

I founded Amashami in 2019, and we are now celebrating our 2nd year anniversary. Enabling refugees to go home with an earned wage higher than the stipend given by aid organizations was my goal last year — and I accomplished it in 3 months.

What’s next for Amashami in 2022?
We hope to expand the business into the international craft market, create a space for refugees to code (we ran a pilot coding trial this year), and build a platform — an app — where they can access funding. This will also enable us to track data around the profitability of their business. We want to use technology to make the outside world understand that refugees are not a liability, and in fact are often uniquely positioned to run successful businesses.

Amashami means branches of a tree, and these are the different branches that we are pursuing in 2022, but the core of the business is that we can have as many branches as we want, because refugees have infinite potential.