Action Africa Help International

You are here:

Newsletter Subscription

Follow Us

Financial inclusion for refugees


At least 65.3 million people around the world have been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of natural disasters, persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or human rights violations. According to data from the United Nations Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), 21.3 million of these displaced people are refugees, 29% of them hosted in Africa. 


Refugees in Africa, as is the case globally, don’t travel far from their home countries. It is estimated that about 86% of them settle in low- and middle-income countries close to their home countries. The top six refugee destinations in Africa are Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Chad and South Sudan. The majority of people fleeing the crisis in Yemen have settled in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan. It is estimated that 2,800 people arrived in Uganda every day from South Sudan in March 2017, bringing the total to just over 1 million refugees at the end of April 2017. Burundi and Rwanda are hosting refugees fleeing violence, rape and killings by militias in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. 


 Kakuma refugee camp in Turkana county in Kenya is home to at least 170,000 people.


One of the large refugee camps in Africa is the Kakuma refugee camp in Turkana county in Kenya, now home to at least 170,000 people. When it was set up in the early 1990s, Kakuma was thought to be a temporary settlement. About 20 years later, and with evolving priorities of funding partners, there is need for modifying the support for refugees and host communities to enable them, especially those in the working-age group (ages 18-59), to be more self-reliant. 


The UNHCR’s Global Trends report indicates that the proportion of refugee populations in the working-age group was at 47% in 2015. Humanitarian actors in refugee-hosting countries have for a long time contemplated the best support for refugees – in a way that can sustainably improve their quality of their lives. But recently the attention is being focused on this working-age group, with new approaches to protect their lives and dignity being taken into account. One such approach is models that offer financial products tailored for refugees.


The World Bank describes financial inclusion as ‘means that individuals and businesses have access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs – transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance – delivered in a responsible and sustainable way’. Financial inclusion is considered significant in realizing for 10 of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals - No poverty (SDG 1), Zero hunger (SDG 2), Good health and well-being (SDG 3), Quality education (SDG 4), Clean water and sanitation (SDG 6) and Affordable energy (SDG 7), Decent work and economic growth (SDG 8), Industry, innovation and infrastructure (SDG 9) and Reducing inequalities (SDG 10) and Peace, justice and strong institutions (SDG 16).


On one hand, refugees are in desperate need of opportunities to be self-reliant. However, given their circumstances, it is not always given that they would have complete identification or guarantors or collateral to access financial products in the countries they have settled in. These factors have led to the perception that refugees are a financial risk. On the other hand, financial service providers are now assessing the risks, identifying potential advantages, and are looking for ways to best serve refugee communities.


According to UNHCR statistics for December 2016, inadequate livelihood opportunities in the Kakuma Refugee Camp

render 37.7% of the working-age group of refugees vulnerable to socio-economic shocks in the camp.


 According to UNHCR statistics for December 2016, inadequate livelihood opportunities in the Kakuma Refugee Camp render 37.7% of the working-age group of refugees vulnerable to socio-economic shocks in the camp. In Kenya, organizations such as Action Africa Help International (AAH-I), in partnership with UNHCR, have from 2015 been implementing an innovative model that allows entrepreneurs in Kakuma refugee camp, Turkana county, access business capital. Through a private sector partnership with Equity Bank, refugee entrepreneurs can access structured institutionalized micro-finance services. Group and individual businesses can receive between KES. 5,000 and KES. 100,000. So far 67 businesses ranging from tailoring, bakeries, vegetable farming and fishmongers have benefitted from the revolving fund. One of the key characteristics of humanitarian work is its impulsive nature, usually responding to emergencies. Offering financial products to refugees is seen as one way of making the sector’s interventions more responsive and sustainable. 


Shukurani Hota Biclere, a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo, is one of the beneficiaries of funds for business startups. She arrived at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in 2012, already with tailoring skills she had acquired from her home in Uvira, south of Kivu. She qualified for an AAH-I loan of KES. 100,000 for her business start-up in June 2016. Almost one year later, Biclere now boasts an average of 40 clients per month, and has employed 7 staff, all refugees within the camp. As at March 2016, she had repaid KES. 72,000 of the loan.


AAH Kenya project.jpg Shukurani Hota Biclere (L) with an apprentice at her tailoring business in Kakuma


Biclere showcases benefits of this type of conditional loans - building credit-worthiness of refugee businesses, creation of employment for fellow refugees and host community members and the stimulation of the local economy through expansion and diversification of businesses.


For those refugees with entrepreneurial experience or talent, small business loans are one way of getting them integrated back into normal life. As we mark the World Refugee Day on June 20th, we honour the courage and resilience of refugees like Biclere.

AAH-I staff attend training on fundraising and proposal-writing


Three AAH-I staff from the HQ and from the Somali Programme attended a workshop on proposal writing and fund raising, held in Nairobi from 28th February to 2nd March 2017. The meeting was facilitated by Capacity Africa.


Participants included Befriend Suicide Helpline from Kenya, IUCN Network from Cameroon, Protection of Heritage sites from South Africa and Mbale Community Development Agency from Uganda.


The 3-day participatory training aimed at building skills and knowledge on best practices in fundraising and proposal development. It combined presentations with group activities. At end of the three days all participants were able to produce clear problem statements, problem analysis, log frames, work plans and budgets. In addition the training laid a foundation of resource opportunities available in Africa.


The three AAH-I staff that are attended were Programme Development Officer Wangari Wanjau and AAH Somalia Project Managers Abdullahi Keinan and Abdinasir Ali.

AAH International appoints Patron

 20 March 2017


As part of our continuing efforts to boost credibility to our cause, the AAH-I Board resolved to establish the AAH-I Patron role. It was agreed that the Patron would be an eminent person in society, able to promote and support AAH-I’s cause, lending credibility to the organization and enhancing our reputation and profile in the international arena. 


 AAH-I Patron Abou MoussaIn this regard, Mr. Abou Moussa, a Chadian national, has been appointed as AAH-I Patron. He was inaugurated on 18 March, 2017 at a colourful ceremony during the Board meeting held in Nairobi.


Mr. Moussa has served as the United Nations (UN) Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for UN Operations in Cote d’Ivoire from September 2005 until his retirement. 


His work with the UN began in 1980, when he joined UNHCR and worked in various roles in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Switzerland, Ethiopia, Zambia and Côte d’Ivoire. He served as the UNHCR Regional Director for West Africa, based in Côte d’Ivoire, from 1997 to November 2002. 


He was appointed as Representative of the Secretary-General (RSG) for the UN Peace-building Support Office in Liberia (UNOL) in December 2002. In this capacity, he represented the UN at discussions that brought about the Accra ceasefire agreement and the subsequent Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in August 2003 in Accra, Ghana. After the signing of the agreement, Mr. Moussa was appointed as UN Deputy SRSG for humanitarian affairs, Resident Representative of the UN Development Programme, and Humanitarian Coordinator for Liberia. 


From May to August 2005, Mr. Moussa was appointed as Officer-in-Charge of the UN Mission in Liberia (UNMIL).  From September 2005 to May 2011 he was appointed as Principal Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General (PDSRSG) to UNOCI (Côte d’Ivoire). With the departure of SRSG Schori in early February 2007, he became Officer-in-Charge of the Mission until the arrival of SRSG Choi in November 2007. During this period he participated intensively in the Ouagadougou Political Agreement preparations between the Ivorian Government and the Forces Nouvelles. Mr. Moussa resumed the position of PDSRSG to ONUCI until May 2011, when he was appointed SRSG for United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa based in Gabon.


Mr. Abou Moussa graduated in Law at the University of Lagos in Nigeria in 1972. He also graduated in Journalism at the Ecole de Journalisme and in Hautes Etudes Sociales at the Ecole Libre des Hautes Etudes Sociales in 1978. Moreover, He graduated in Sociology and Development Economics (DESS) at the University of Paris I (Sorbonne) in 1980.  He is fluent in French and English.


The AAH-I Patron’s role is an honorary position. The Patron shall consult with the AAH-I Board, but shall be a non-Board Member. The Patron shall serve not more than two terms of three years each from the date of appointment.

AAH International Board Chair visits HQ in Nairobi

 9 February 2017



“Are we as an organization and as individuals resilient enough to survive the ‘accordion business environment’? How can AAH-I use innovation and entrepreneurship to make the business thrive?


How do we strengthen the regional character of AAH-I?” The AAH-I International Board Chair, Dr. John Tabayi, posed these questions when he visited the headquarters and met with staff on 9 February 2017.


Dr. Tabayi passionately shared his thoughts about the value of continuous professional development in order to keep up with the demands of the business environment. Linking this to the concept of compressing and expanding the accordion bellows to make music, he encouraged staff to keep rewriting their job description as they learn new skills and take up new roles to effectively respond to the always expanding and compressing business environment.


He highlighted the need to showcase the impact of the work of AAH-I through documentation and storytelling across various communication platforms. “Let our milestones speak for us,” he said. While articulating the organization’s humble beginnings and current strategic objectives, he pointed out the gains that have been made in all AAH-I countries of operation and within the various thematic areas, and the need to tell the AAH-I story to raise the organization’s visibility and demonstrate the impact of our activities.


“We are uniquely positioned to transform our regions through the multi-sectorial dynamism that is a part of our organizational culture,” reflected Dr. Tabayi in relation to AAH-I’s expanding into Djibouti in the first quarter of 2017. “As we launch into Djibouti this year, let’s look for innovative ways to break country programme silos as we reinforce our footprint beyond refugee settings,” he said.


AAH-I Executive Director Dr. Caroline Kisia wrapped up the session by thanking Dr. Tabayi for taking his time to engage with staff and to feel the pulse of the organization at the headquarters level. This was the first meeting with HQ staff by Dr. Tabayi since he was appointed International Board Chair in November 2015.

Orientation held for new health funding in South Sudan 

A meeting to orient partners about the Health Polled Funds. The orientation meeting was held in Maradi County, Western Equatoria State, and was attended by healthcare staff and government employees.

The Heath Pooled Funds (HPF), led by Crown Agents organised an orientation meeting in Maridi, South Sudan, in late May, 2016. 

The meeting was attended by the County Health Departments (CHDs), local authorities and  implementing partners (IPs) from Maridi, Ibba County and Mundri West Counties, including AAH South Sudan. The purpose of the meeting was to assist the CHDs, local authorities and IPs to gain a better understanding of HPF's approach to programme implementation.

The local authority was receptive and appreciated HPF for its timely intervention to support health programmes in the counties. They pledged their full support to the HPF programme and its implementing partners,  including AAH South Sudan.

Under the HPF bridging grant, AAH South Sudan, provides services to 218,000 people. This includes working with the government to provide services in 56 primary health care facilities and one referral hospital in Ibba, Mundri West and Maridi Counties of Western Equatoria State. Fifty one percent of the healthcare workforce in the 56 health facilities are funded by AAH South Sudan.

Last year, AAH  South Sudan installed solar systems in 24 health facilities in Central and Western Equatoria States, with funding from Bread for the World.
HPF 2 is a three-year fund of around £120 million to the delivery of essential health services and the achievement of the three main objectives of the national health sector development plan across six of South Sudan’s ten states.
The HPF is supported by the Australian Government’s Overseas Aid Programme (AusAid), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the British Government’s Department for International Development (DFID), the European Union (EU), and the Swedish International Development and Cooperation Agency (SIDA).

Inspiring story ahead of the World Refugee day.