Refugee Business Forum

UNHCR and partners in conjunction with Danish Refugee Council, University of Nairobi and the Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National Government organized a business forum ahead of the World Refugee Day Celebration

Attendees at the Refugee Business Forum at the University of Nairobi

NAIROBI, Kenya, 19th June 2015 (UNHCR) – “First step to success isn’t for people to accept you but for you to accept yourself,” said Pierre Muhire, a young refugee entrepreneur.

UNHCR and partners in conjunction with Danish Refugee Council, University of Nairobi and the Government organized a Business Forum ahead of the 2015 World Refugee Day Celebrations. An exhibition by refugee entrepreneurs was also running concurrently at the University grounds where refugees showcased and sold their merchandise.

“Refugees are intellectuals, entrepreneurs, artists and any obstacles which they face should be addressed,” said Dr. Gullet of Kenya Red Cross Society in his keynote address.

The forum, dubbed Refugee Business Forum, brought together the refugees, the government, refugees’ entrepreneurs, scholars, private sector, students and NGOs in celebrating the refugees contributing to the economy of Kenya in various sectors.

”Refugees have the right to operate businesses and obtain business permits just like any other Kenyan,” noted Mr. Onditi of Chambers of Commerce and Industry. Mr. Onditi showed interest in visiting the camps and teaching the refugees about business skills. “The process of refugees getting certificates shouldn’t be delayed as this greatly affects their ability to work or run business,” he added.

Panelists discussing Refugees Contribution in Host Community

Panelists at the Refugee Business Forum

The presence and role of the refugees community in the University of Nairobi in contributing to a diversity of culture at the institution was also lauded during the forum. University of Nairobi encourages research on the impact of refugees in socio-economic sphere in Kenya through business. “We need to understand the role of refugees in the country & not stereotype them,” said Professor Maria Nzomo, Director, Institute of Diplomacy & International Studies. “Refugees have not always been destitute,” noted Prof. Peter Kagwanja.