A quarter of the world’s 65 million forcibly displaced people (FDPs) live in sub-Saharan Africa. This includes 4.4 million refugees (who have been forced to flee their own countries) and 10.7 million internally displaced people. Large refugee populations exist in many countries in which the FSD Network has a presence, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, Zambia and D.R. Congo.

The number of FDPs is growing every year and displacements are also lasting for longer. A total of 42% of refugees have been displaced for five or more years. Increasingly forcibly displaced populations tend to be geographically stable, urban, connected and economically active, and financial services have a key role to play in their survival and livelihood strategies.

What is FSD Africa doing?

FSD Africa is working in partnership with The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)  along with national governments and the FSD Network and to support the development of market-based solutions to the financial needs of forcibly displaced people and their host communities.

FSD Africa is working on three inter-related initiatives in this space:

  • The first will be to produce market intelligence on ‘Refugees and their Money.’ This will generate data to feed into the business case for serving displaced people and their communities, bringing together macro-level information on the scope of the opportunity with micro-level research on financial behaviours of certain groups of refugees in Rwanda.
  • This research will feed into a ‘Design Sprint for Refugees and an Innovation Competition for financial service providers’ in Rwanda. This will follow a three stage process:
    • Stage 1. The Design Sprint will involve rapid learning, ideation, prototyping and testing of innovative new products based on the specific needs of one refugee community and the surrounding populations in Rwanda.
    • Stage 2. Seed capital grants of £10,000 each will be provided to the most promising concepts from the Design Sprint to be developed into business plans.
    • Stage 3. Up to two of best business plans will be pitched to the FSD Africa Investment Committee for between £100,000 and £300,000 of investment to develop and launch the product at scale.
  • Thirdly, FSD Africa will host regular events for a range of stakeholders on the topic of Forcibly Displaced People in order to build awareness and promote greater coordination between donors, government and the private sector.

How to participate

The first phase of FSD Africa’s FDP work will focus on Rwanda and Uganda, beginning with a breakfast meeting on 19th June, the day before World Refugee Day, to launch the project in partnership with the Government of Rwanda’s Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs (MIDIMAR), UNHCR, Access to Finance Rwanda (AFR). The event is for key stakeholders working on refugee populations and financial inclusion.

The Design Sprint is primarily for financial service providers in Rwanda looking to develop a business model for refugees, other displaced populations and their host communities. For more information and how to participate, please contact Howard Miller (

Further reading

Financial Inclusion of Refugees: An Introduction – Centre for Financial Inclusion

Serving Refugee Populations: The Next Financial Inclusion Frontier – Social Protection Task Force

Economic Inclusion of Refugees in Rwanda – UNHCR