Enhancing Refugee’s Financial Security
A merchant stall in Kakuma refugee camp displays a variety of hair extensions and colorful fabrics. With no client to attend to this morning, 31 year old, Bindu Mulio reviews her transaction records.
“I arrived at the Kakuma refugee camp 4 years ago after fleeing my native country, the Democratic Republic of Congo. I got employed and started working at a hair salon in order to provide for my two children. I quit after some time and worked as an incentive worker. Being a single mother, I still struggled to feed my children and to pay for their school fees to complement the support from I was receiving from UNHCR,” says Bindu. “I then realized that being self-employed would grant me financial independence and resolve most of my problems. Little did I know that accessing funds would be yet another hurdle I would have to overcome.”
In 2014, an estimated 2 billion adults lacked access to a transaction account and were excluded from the formal financial system. As accessing loans for small scale entrepreneurs is quite arduous, the same is seemingly impossible for forcibly displaced people. Yet, financial services enable individuals to care for their families, venture in businesses, manage risk, and invest in health or education therefore increasing their quality of life.
To address this, the Kenya programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I), with funding support from UNHCR, is granting business loans to refugees in order to sustainably improve their self-reliance and integration among the host community. Grants are disbursed to sponsor various businesses such as saloons, grocery shops, biogas production and tailoring.
Prior to receiving her loan of 50.000 Ksh in May 2018, Bindu benefitted from a two month training on financial literacy and business management. Hence, her earnings and self-reliance have significantly improved. Bindu has expanded her business and confidently caters for her family’s needs.
In 2017, 3,469 people benefited from AAH-I enterprise development assistance.
Kakuma refugee camp is situated in north-west Kenya, on the outskirts of Kakuma town. As at January 2018, the camp was host to over 150,000 refugees and asylum seekers like Bindu.