Empowering entrepreneurs and freelancers to leverage digital economy opportunities in Kenya

Through an intensive programme, ILO PROSPECTS Kenya rolled out training that supports entrepreneurs and freelancers to apply a new tool for business digitalization.

News | 06 March 2024
Naivasha, Kenya (ILO News) – The International Labour Organization (ILO), as part of the Partnership for improving prospects for host communities and forcibly displaced persons (PROSPECTS), recently concluded a Training of Trainers (ToT) workshop combining the Digitalise Your Business (DYB) and Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) programmes. Held in Naivasha, Kenya from 5 to 15 February 2024, this two-week intensive training is part of a strategic agenda to support freelancers and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) from Turkana, Garissa, and Nairobi to leverage opportunities in the digital economy.

The digitalization of the world of work is leading to new ways for communities affected by forced displacement to access livelihoods. Refugees and host communities across Kenya are searching for pathways to achieve self-reliance and contribute to economic development. This is evidenced by the estimated 2,500 businesses in the Kakuma and 5,000 in the Dadaab refugee settlements.

With the aim of both enhancing employability and equipping businesses with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in the digital economy, the ILO’s DYB and SIYB training tools were merged to a single manual and adapted to the local context. According to Lylianne Velo from the ILO, this new tool covers practical areas such as preparing a business plan or starting out as an online freelancer, using digital tools for enhanced productivity, establishing an online presence, and mitigating digital risks.
Trainers at the Digitalize Your Business-Start Your Business (DYB-SIYB) ToT in Naivasha, Kenya.
By the end of the workshop, 25 Master Trainers from diverse backgrounds, including business consultants, freelancers and micro-entrepreneurs, were able to successfully master the DYB-SIYB methodology. The participants included organizations already acquainted with ILO training programmes, such as business development service providers in Turkana and Garissa including the County Governments the Chambers of Commerce and Micro Small Enterprise Authority. Organizations emerging as part of the country’s digital ecosystem also benefit from the training, including the Dadaab Collective Freelancing Agency, iWorkers, Learning Lions and Longitude Finance.

The sessions focused on both developing their understanding of the digital economy and the challenges and opportunities it presents, as well as their facilitation skills to cascade the training further. An updated manual will soon be made available following the feedback provided by participants.

As a way forward, the participants teamed up and developed action plans to roll out their own Training of Potential Entrepreneurs with interested partner institutions. The workshop marks another step towards an inclusive digital transformation in Kenya, empowering individuals to navigate the digital realm with confidence and skill.

The ToT was supported by the PROSPECTS programme in Kenya and the Opportunity Fund project on the Promotion, inclusion and protection of refugees and host communities in the gig economy , funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.