Employment & Entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs learn skills for the future

AEC Els Remijn
Photo credits: Els Remijn

Basic skills training can lead to brilliant results! Our partner African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC) is enabling people at Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya to create thriving businesses.

Kakuma refugee camp is rich with stories of people that have arrived with nothing and then risen to the challenge of building a livelihood for themselves. People like Louis Aliza Sharif from Sudan, a mother of five, who started her business selling clothes that a lady gave to her. She now has a bustling business making and repairing clothes and selling handmade perfumes.

Louis Aliza in her shop in Kukama Refugee Camp
Photo Credits: Els Remijn

Or Gentil, who also chose the shade of a tree to start his mechanic repair business in 2018 and now has a shop that sells motor supplies with a covered workshop right in front.

Gentil at his workshop
Photo Credits: Els Remijn

Resourceful and resilient

Entrepreneurs are often resourceful and resilient people, yet they don’t always have the benefit of training in important business skills. This is particularly true for entrepreneurs who have had to start their business after leaving their homes and everything else behind.

AEC provides training in fundamental skills such as bookkeeping and customer relations. When Louis Aliza and Gentil applied the skills they learned in the training, they instantly saw what a difference this made to their business success and they aren’t the only ones.

Nirera putting her bookkeeping skills into practice
Photo Credits: Els Remijn

After Nirera learned bookkeeping skills on an AEC training programme she was able to identify which products sold best and what times were the busiest. She now knows which food items people in the local community like to buy and that they mostly shop in the late afternoon and the evening. These insights help Nirera to run her business more efficiently so that she makes more profit.

Business success

Claver delights customers with his new business skills
Photo Credits: Els Remijn

Claver saw his monthly turnover grow from 18.000 KES to 100.000 KES by applying the skills he learned. Before the training, Claver used to pile his second-hand clothing on tables for customers to search through. Now his stock is neatly organised and presented in a way that makes it easier for customers to find what they’re looking for and makes products stand out more if people are just browsing. Claver has even taken his customer service a step further. When new supplies of clothing arrive, he calls customers directly to let them know. He is keen to build on his success and keep renewing and improving his business.

We believe in a future where people like Louis Aliza, Gentil, Nirera and Claver have the skills and support to grow their businesses and create better lives for their families and communities.

With support from the IKEA Foundation, AEC will provide training, access to finance and networking opportunities for entrepreneurs, enabling 6,000 people—both refugees and local community members—to build thriving businesses and create 3,000 jobs for others. The IKEA Foundation is supporting AEC because refugees need decent livelihoods in order to be self-reliant. We believe the best way to achieve this is by also supporting the host community, so that everyone benefits.