Internet Entrepreneurs in Dadaab Refugee Camps

To date, dozens of young people in the Dadaab refugee camps of Kenya have benefited from RET’s digital work programme. This innovative approach has helped young refugees become self-reliant, by giving them the tools to work online.


When the concept of digital entrepreneurship was introduced to these youth, the whole idea of online income generation seemed foreign and unattainable to most of them. They had a difficult time understanding how they would be able to get paid through the Internet and what exactly they could do.


In order to overcome this hesitation, RET created trainings to develop their digital skills. The young people participating in the programme are trained in many fields such as electronic record management, transcription or optical character recognition. In addition, RET provides key infrastructure, such as the workspace or offices, computers and Internet connexions. Finally, RET works with the young people to search for the opportunities, such as Somali transcription and translation services.


One of the young people benefiting from the programme is Salat Mohamed. He arrived in Dadaab with his mother and siblings as a child, after the death of his father in the Somali civil war. Young people like Salat have generally few educational opportunities. Most complete primary education and then, if they are lucky, they may have access to some secondary education before competing for the few jobs available in the camps.




It is in this context that Salat joined the programme in November 2014. Thanks to his very consistent delivery of quality work, within 2 months he became responsible of quality assurance, supervising the work done by his colleagues before it is sent back to the client. He also helps new students with his technical skills.


He has now worked for nine months, and his earnings have enabled him to continue his education as he has started an online degree in Development Studies. He notes that if it had not been for his decision to become a digital worker, his dreams of pursuing an undergraduate degree would have remained a fantasy. The earnings from his digital work have also enabled him to support his family and siblings who are with him in the camp, something that seemed impossible before starting the programme.


Since the refugees in the camp are restricted in their movements, this type of borderless work has proved to be a durable livelihoods solution. This innovative project is possible thanks to the generous support of the U.S. State Department´s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration. It has allowed the youth to be more independent, take on responsibilities, grow their management skills and has opened them up to the rest of the world, as they interact with people from other continents.


For young digital workers, like Salat, this training is a treasure that they will be able to take everywhere with them. The young people who have gone through the programme feel more confident as the skills acquired and the ability to deliver online digital work could offer them employment solutions in Somalia as well.