State digital project eyes talent pool among refugees for online work

Private Sector Partnerships Lead at Amahoro Coalition Valerie Karuwa in discussion with Rachel Gathu, Project Officer, Private Sector Engagement at Ajira Digital Program during a business executives' roundtable in Nairobi. [File, Standard]

The Ajira Digital Programme is exploring ways to enable the refugee population in Kenya to work online and deliver business solutions for the private sector.

According to the proposal, the local private sector can do more than just offering humanitarian aid to the estimated 500,000 refugees in the country by advancing their inclusion in the digital workspace and thus ultimately contributing to youth employment and economic growth.

During a business executive roundtable event, participants discussed opportunities and benefits of business process digitisation and the outsourcing of services online from marginalised youth in the Kakuma and Daadab refugee camps in Turkana and Garissa counties.

The Ajira Digital Programme is a project of the Government of Kenya being implemented by the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (Kepsa) with funding from Mastercard Foundation.

It has been at the forefront of popularising the local digital economy and improving livelihoods by driving the adoption of digital and online work in Kenya.

The programme offers free digital skills training and mentorship to ease young people's transition to jobs in the digital space.

On the refugee plan, Ajira is collaborating with the Amahoro Coalition, an initiative that seeks to advance economic inclusion for displaced populations.

Waiting to be tapped

“We have a lot of talent waiting to be tapped among the refugee population in Kenya. We have seen many examples of bright but marginalised young people delivering quality work to global clients through online platforms," said Ehud Gachugu, Project Director for Ajira Digital Programme and Youth Employment at Kepsa.

"Our aim is, therefore, to help grow and harness this talent to also deliver work for our local businesses, thus creating even more opportunities for refugees to add value not only in their local communities but also nationally."

The Ajira programme is mandated to engage the private and public sectors to support digitally skilled youth to access quality jobs, and has to date recorded over 1.9 million Kenyans working online. 

It says close to nine million Kenyans are aware of digital work opportunities.

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