Engaging City County Officials to Enhance Refugee Enterprise

  • Kenya




Increase refugees ability to establish their own enterprises and businesses in accordance with local requirements.


  • Increase urban refugees knowledge of the procedural and legal requirements for accessing a single business permit (SBP) in Nairobi City County
  • Increase access to information about opportunities available to refugees
  • Increase partnerships between UNHCR and Nairobi City County’s Business Licensing and Inspection Directorate
  • Sensitise Directorate grassroots inspection officers to refugee protection issues

Targeted population:

  • Refugees with businesses and enterprises, or those with plans to establish one
  • Directorate officials, in particular inspection officers

Challenge addressed:

  • Refugees lack of knowledge about the legal and procedural requirements that have to be met in order to have a business or enterprise in Nairobi
  • Refugees claims of harassment by inspection officers
  • Lack of sensitivity to refugee protection issues amongst some Directorate officials

Program description:

  • UNHCR Livelihood team reached out to the Directorate and also involved urban refugees
  • An interactive session was organised allowing for the exchange of contact details and active discussion about the challenges of achieving self-reliance
  • Refugees were able to voice their concerns over perceived acts of harassment by inspection officers
  • 100 inspection officers from 5 different locations in Nairobi were sensitised on refugee protection issues
  • Refugees were taught about the legal and procedural requirements for acquiring a single business permit (SBP), a prerequisite for running a business or enterprise in Nairobi
  • Refugees appreciated the information given to them and gave assurances that they would follow official procedures
  • Refugees gave assurances that they would not evade inspection officers during their visits
  • The Directorate offered to fund the development of booklets detailing the procedures necessary for acquiring an SBP, which would then be distributed to refugees and Kenyan nationals
  • The Directorate committed its officials to accompanying UNHCR and its partners to refugee community meetings and entrepreneurship training courses
  • Greater interaction by the Directorate with refugee communities offered additional opportunities to sensitise refugees to the necessary requirements and procedures for operating a business in Nairobi
  • This was part of a long-term partnership between UNHCR and the Directorate to enhance refugees knowledge of available livelihoods and processes required to access these

Impact on targeted population:

  • Increased refugees knowledge of legal and procedural requirements necessary for establishing and maintaining a business in Nairobi
  • Greater refugees involvement in discussions around their access to livelihoods and self-reliance strategies

Impact on host community:

  • Increased dialogue between hosts and refugees, promoted by the interactive session format and subsequent increased involvement of the Directorate in refugee community meetings and training programs
  • More Directorate officials trained on refugee protection issues
  • Greater knowledge among Kenyan nationals of the procedures for obtaining a single business permit (SBP)

Conditions required:

Acceptance of the importance of urban refugee livelihoods by local government officials.



Nairobi City County

Our impact

  • 3700

    refugees have better access to education and livelihood opportunities

  • 40

    countries in which our partner NGOs are implementing solutions

  • 490

    refugee children benefit from mathematics, english, art and sports classes

  • 700

    women can now support their families

  • 650

    refugees have access to critical healthcare and safety information

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