What advice would you give other SMEs that are working in fragile/difficult situations and with refugees and their host communities?

In light of AEC Kenya’s 4-year experience and learnings from supporting refugee and host community entrepreneurs in Kenya, and subsequent expansion to Ethiopia in 2021, our advice to other SMEs include:

  • Having a clear understanding of the micro, small and medium enterprise dynamics of refugees and hosts before launching programmes, following key guiding questions such as: What type of market is this? For instance, Is it a consumer, producer, services or business to consumer or business to business market?
  • Having a clear understanding of the value chain (i.e. what works and what doesn’t work?)
  • Leveraging existing business networks, partnerships on the ground and following market trends to inform programming and operations decisions.
  • Building trust and setting clear programming expectations.
  • Ensuring accountability to deliver on promises.

Finally, we know that every market has its own dynamics and not every advice will be applicable for all contexts. Therefore, AEC Kenya is open to sharing our experiences for specific needs upon request, and we would also be interested to learn best practices from other like-minded SMEs.