AEC Entrepreneurs

African textiles for local clothes and decoration, and exporting to a global market

Esperance Mazayire
Owner, Fabric Store

“The loan will add tremendous value to my business and my life. It will allow me to support not only my family in Rwanda, but also those members who have been resettled in the US and who struggle to make ends meet there.” – Esperance

Esperance Mazayire, a Congolese refugee living in Kiziba Refugee Camp, participated in AEC’s training & consulting services, and has since seen her business steadily grow. 

What started out as a small shop selling fabric to fellow refugees, now exports African-print cloth to US customers.  When she applied for $3,000 in affordable capital from AEC, AEC went through the normal due diligence process, ensuring she has the systems and practices in place to use the loan for both social and business impact.  

On the day of disbursement, Esperance helped AEC reach their own milstone, Esperance became AEC’s 1,000th loan to a refugee borrower. 

Breaking from traditional aid approaches, AEC sees refugees as actors in improving their own livelihoods through business. Refugee entrepreneurs are a population overlooked by mainstream financial institutions, yet AEC is proving these businesses are investment ready.

“Refugee borrowers in AEC’s portfolio are repaying their loans at 97%, which encourages us to lend more to this community. They are using these funds to expand their businesses, creating jobs for other refugees as well as members of the host community. Access to finance allows our clients to improve their lives and contribute to the country’s economy,” says Claude Mazimpaka, AEC’s Loan Portfolio Director.

AEC’s lending program is currently backed by global investor Kiva Microfinance. “Kiva partnered with AEC to lend to a population that few others would. Across our global portfolio of entrepreneur borrowers, refugees are proving to be investable, reliable, and are contributing to the economic growth of their communities. Investing in the first 1,000 refugee borrowers is a great start, and we’re ready to reach even more with AEC,” says Neville Crawley, Kiva CEO.

To date, AEC borrowers have created more than 2,700 jobs and have averaged an increase in revenue of 78%.

Related Stories