Connecting the Separated

Designing business opportunities for refugee women

Heshima Kenya specializes in identifying and protecting unaccompanied and separated refugee children and youth, especially girls, young women, and their children living in Nairobi, Kenya. It’s a pretty unique organization in that it’s focused specifically on urban Nairobi, and is looking to design services that take highly vulnerable refugee women on a development journey from basic needs to psychosocial counseling to language, culture, and social skills to basic life and vocational skills. 

At Amplify, we were excited by Heshima’s big question: How might we provide economic and social services to empower refugee women in Nairobi through business startup incubation or links to employment opportunities? By working with Amplify, Heshima aims to provide refugee women with technical skills, microloans, and psychosocial support, so they can start small businesses and build productive livelihoods.

So far, Heshima has dug into some research to understand what the biggest challenges have been for refugee women who have started businesses. After conducting this initial research, they ran a couple of prototypes based on what they learned, including taking aspiring entrepreneurs on an inspiration tour to meet successful female entrepreneurs and ask them questions and experimenting with different loan sizes and types of support. In 2016, Heshima will run a pilot of their program based on what they learned during prototyping.

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