State digital project targets talent pool among refugees for online work

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

The Ajira digital program explores ways to enable the refugee population in Kenya to work online and provide business solutions to the private sector.

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

In a panel discussion of business leaders, participants discussed the opportunities and benefits of digitizing business processes and outsourcing online services to marginalized youth in Kakuma and Daadab refugee camps in the Turkana and Garissa counties.

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

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

The program provides free digital skills training and mentoring to help young people transition into jobs in the digital space.

On the refugee side, Ajira works with the Amahoro Coalition, an initiative that aims to advance the economic inclusion of displaced populations.

Waiting to be tapped

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

“So our goal is to help develop and harness this talent to also provide work for our local businesses, creating even more opportunities for refugees to add value not only in their local communities but also to nationwide.”

The Ajira program has a mandate to engage the private and public sectors to help digitally skilled youth access quality jobs, and has registered over 1.9 million Kenyans working online to date.

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

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