According to the UNHCR, Kenya hosts 540,068 refugees and 394,000 internally displaced persons (IDP) due to political strife and natural calamities. However, the number of refugees in Kenya is likely to be much higher: The fear of forced repatriation or encampment leads large numbers of refugees to avoid registration making the total number living in Kenya, sometimes estimated as high as 1,000,000, difficult to discern.

Notwithstanding questions surrounding the total numbers of forcibly displaced people in Kenya, the majority of the assistance provided to these vulnerable communities has been humanitarian, addressing basic needs such as food, shelter, water, healthcare, sanitation, and education, with insufficient emphasis placed on creating economic opportunities that lead to self-reliance. Despite these ecosystem gaps and large challenges, there are excellent opportunities for refugee lens investment (RLI) in traditional business models in critical, high-impact sectors such as agriculture, supply chain and logistics, energy, and financial services.

In collaboration with Open Capital, “Building a Refugee Lens Investment Ecosystem in Kenya” describes how Kenya-based refugees engage economically within their host communities, and the challenges and opportunities to support sustainable livelihood development, amidst the various policy and related barriers that these populations face. The report aims to apply the concept of RIN’s refugee lens investment (RLI) to Kenya, outline market-based pathways to better integrate refugees as net contributors to value chains, and suggest opportunities for key stakeholders to develop a more robust refugee-inclusive economic ecosystem. Finally, this report aims to shed light on such opportunities and advance the conversation focused on refugee self-reliance from an investor’s perspective.