Empowering Urban Refugees with Business Skills

Trainees follow keenly to a session at Business Development Skills training

RefugePoint’s Livelihoods program aims to enable urban refugees to achieve greater self-sufficiency and a better quality of life. Our Business Development Skills (BDS) training empowers our refugee clients with the necessary skills to run a successful business in the harsh business climate of Nairobi, Kenya. The training is a critical component of RefugePoint’s Livelihoods program and covers topics such as the qualities of an entrepreneur, goal setting, pricing, and the importance of saving. The facilitators present the curriculum in an easily understandable format for clients of all educational backgrounds and literacy levels.

In October 2020, in response to challenges related to having face-to-face trainings as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, RefugePoint’s Livelihoods team in Nairobi, Kenya, began rolling out a new iteration of its BDS training. In addition to holding a socially-distanced in-person training for a limited number of participants who don’t have reliable internet access, the team concurrently conducted an online version of the training for our tech-savvy clients connected via Zoom. The in-person training remains essential for participants who need closer follow-up, whether it’s the need for translation/interpretation services or personal attention to reiterate certain concepts. The combined approach ensures that social distancing requirements can be strictly complied with during in-person training sessions and enables us to retain the number of participants we had in training before the pandemic.

“I have learned how to attract customers and how to save money so that I have funds to rely on in case of problems. What I have learned will help me in my life,” said Julie, a refugee client who participated in the in-person version of November’s training. Participants from the October and November trainings reported that the online lessons allowed them to quickly get back to their businesses since the classes began early in the morning and ran through mid-morning. Trainees who are parents also praised the virtual course because it eased their worries about finding child care. Virtual participants were able to submit their assignments directly to the facilitators via Whatsapp. The RefugePoint trainers administered the class from a joint Whatsapp group to ensure that any follow-up questions were addressed quickly.

Speaking about the future of the blended BDS training, Belinda, RefugePoint’s Livelihoods Program Officer, said, “We will keep testing it out and keep iterating until we get it perfect. Digital classes have become the norm, and we don’t see ourselves going back to exclusively in-person trainings.”