Extending Micro Finance Services to Refugees and Host Communities in Kenya

In December 2019, the ILO working closely with UNHCR organized a scoping mission to the two refugee camps in Kenya (Kakuma and Dadaab) to enable five Kenyan Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) to assess business viability in the refugee hosting areas.

News | 01 April 2020
Refugees and host communities in Kakuma and Dadaab are key players in the Kenya's informal economy. They face challenges similar to other informal economy players, albeit in a greater scale. One of the persistent challenges is lack of access to financial services to support their businesses.

In December 2019, the ILO working closely with UNHCR organized a scoping mission to the two refugee camps in Kenya (Kakuma and Dadaab) to enable five Kenyan Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs) to assess business viability in the refugee hosting areas. They also sought to understand operations and business environment in the two camps. The MFI representatives participated in focus group discussions with a variety of business owners in the refugee camps, visited refugee owned businesses and held discussions with banks offering financial services in the targeted intervention areas.

Thanks to the visit, the five MFIs committed to explore modalities of extending financial services to refugees in the camps in the coming months. ILO will work with the MFIs to build their capacity on making micro finance work for refugees, and support them to develop appropriate products accessible to refugees and host communities.

Click here to see the photo gallery of the scoping mission (also below)
  • Focus group discussion with refugee business owners in Kakuma Refugee Camp

    MFI representatives (in blue caps) at a FGD in Kakuma with refugee business owners.

  • ECLOF (Microfinance Institution) representative talking to refugees in Kakuma

    Esther from ECLOF-Kenya (a Microfinance Institution) explaining their products to refugee entrepreneurs in Kakuma.

  • Focus group discussion with women's group in Dadaab refugee camp

    Focus group discussion with Nyota Farsamo women Group in Hargadeira in Dadaab camp. The group specialises in making high quality and functional hand woven products selling both in Kenya and abroad. They would benefit from accessing affordable credit, and financial education.

  • Meeting two industrious young refugees

    Meeting two industrious young refugees from Burundi Fabrice (first right) and Oliver (in green). They have build a WiFi distribution business serving homes, businesses and students at the Darfur area in Kakuma Refugee Camp. Access to affordable business finance would help them achieve their dream of supplying internet to other parts of the camp, and the world.

  • Meeting two industrious young refugees

    A poster outside the internet shop operated by Oliver and Fabrice

  • Meeting Mama Angel from Congo

    Mama Angel fled from Congo 9 years ago with her husband and two children. Despite many challenges, she has established a salon and barbershop at the Burundian market in Kakuma. She also has trained six refugee youth with salon and barber skills (4 female, 2 male). Her wish is to diversify her business to include cosmetics and wedding-ware. She needs a loan of KES. 100,000 (apprx USD 1,000), but her Village Savings and Loans (VSL) group can only give her a maximum of KES.7,000 (USD 70). The linkage with a micro finance institution could help her achieve her business growth goal.

  • Meeting Mama Angel from Congo

    Mama Angel (second left) with some of her apprentices at her salon

  • Micro Finance Institutions' Debriefing Meeting

    MFIs debriefing meeting with the head of UNHCR Kakuma sub office, Ignazio Matteini