Hope for refugee populations to be included in the digital labor economy

The Ajira Digital Programme, in partnership with the Amahoro Coalition, is exploring ways to enable the refugee population in Kenya to work online and provide business solutions to the private sector in Kenya.

During a roundtable of business leaders, private sector players, among others, discussed the opportunities and benefits of digitizing business processes and outsourcing youth online talent and services marginalized in the Kakuma and Daadab refugee camps located in Turkana and Garissa respectively.

According to Ajira Digital Program and Amahoro Coalition, the local private sector can do more than just offer humanitarian assistance to the estimated 500,000 refugees in the country by advancing their inclusion in the digital workspace; ultimately contributing to youth employment and economic growth.

The initiative now offers hope to young people bogged down by mobility and access limitations, to explore opportunities beyond camps, promising them local and digitally compatible digital work, regardless of gender , their origin, their geographical and physical conditions.

Ajira Digital Program, a Government of Kenya project, implemented by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) and funded by the Mastercard Foundation, has been at the forefront of popularizing the local digital economy and improving livelihoods by driving digital adoption. and line work in Kenya. The program provides free digital skills training and mentorship, to help young people transition into jobs in the digital space.

“We have a lot of talent waiting to be harnessed among the refugee population in Kenya. We have seen many examples of bright but marginalized young people delivering quality work to global clients through online platforms. Our goal is therefore to help develop and harness this talent to also provide work for our local businesses, thereby creating even more opportunities for refugees to add value not only in their local communities but also to the nationwide,” said Dr. Ehud Gachugu, Project Director, Ajira Digital Program and Youth Employment at KEPSA.

The Ajira Digital Programme, charged with making the country a digital freelancing hub by engaging the private and public sectors to help digitally skilled youth access quality jobs, has so far registered more than 1.9 million Kenyans working online compared to around 600,000 in 2020. The Ajira Digital National Survey 2022 also indicates that nearly 9 million Kenyans are aware of online and digital work opportunities.

The study “Private Sector Digital Outsourcing Practices in Kenya” further indicates that 59% of the private sector in Kenya are already outsourcing digital services and 75% intend to outsource in the future. In addition to decent job creation and youth inclusion, other benefits of digital outsourcing for businesses highlighted in the study include business efficiency, overhead reduction and management, access to specialized, technical and professional skills, as well as business agility, a key factor in improving productivity.

Speaking at the event, Valerie Karuwa, Head of Private Sector Partnerships at Amahoro Coalition, urged private sector leaders, in the spirit of inclusion, to explore the vast talent pool and digital skills available. within refugee communities, also a potential captive market for inclusive businesses. Opportunities.

A study by the Amahoro Coalition and the International Trade Center (ITC) on “The landscape of private sector digital outsourcing in Kenya and its potential to support the economic inclusion of refugees” found that a lack of awareness to the skills and potential available within the refugee community is the biggest hurdle for companies working with refugees. Even so, companies that had previously worked with self-employed refugees expressed satisfaction with the results of the work based on quality, speed, innovation and cost-effectiveness.

“Refugee inclusion brings countless benefits, including buoyant entrepreneurship, customer loyalty and reliability as borrowers, thereby providing both a source and consumer market for businesses and states. The private sector, through innovative business models, can advocate for more sustainable and dignified ways for refugees to access economic opportunities while creating value for their own businesses, thereby contributing to empowerment economic impact not only of the refugees but also of the local host communities,” Ms. Karuwa added.

Mohamed Omar, Managing Director of Collectif Dadaab, a digital work agency based in Daadab refugee camp, urged the business community to believe in the potential of young people in refugee camps to create economic and employment opportunities for themselves through online and digital work.

“The Daadab Collective has over 200,000 registered refugees and asylum seekers, many of whom earn their income from incentive work for international and local organizations, petty trade and small businesses. We know that many of these refugees have the technical capacity and experience in digital and digitally enabled work and we urge the Kenyan private sector to seriously consider expanding these work opportunities to realize shared value and what will a big difference in the quality of life for these marginalized communities,” he said.

In collaboration with like-minded partners, the Ajira Digital Program intends to open up the various layers of business, employment and service opportunities that can be competently provided by refugee communities in the country through online work channels and platforms by harnessing digital technologies, exposing young people through training while influencing private sector adoption of outsourcing.

About Donnie R. Losey

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