World War II, the continuous rise in refugee numbers in each passing decade
continues to be a major challenge to the United Nations (UN). Whenever there is
displacement or a humanitarian catastrophe, the UN is on the ground providing
relief, support and assistance. Several aid agencies under the umbrella of
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are responsible for
humanitarian assistance and protection of refugees (Salmio, 2009; Sivolobova,
eruption of armed conflicts in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region
has resulted in the flight of millions of people in search of safety, with some
of them ending in refugee camps. Towards the end of the World War II refugee
camps became standardized form of assisting displaced people (Salmio, 2009;
refugee camp is defined by UNHCR (2016) as a temporary accommodation for people
who have been forced to flee their homes to provide immediate protection and
safety for the world’s most vulnerable people. UNHCR reports that there are 2.6
million people living in camps worldwide.
to UNHCR1 facts
and figures, by end of 2016 there were 65.6 million people forcibly displaced
worldwide from their homes due to conflict, violence or persecution, out of
this 22.5 million are refugees and 30% of them are hosted in Africa; this gives
an average of 28,300 people displaced worldwide on daily basis. UNHCR affirms
that when people become refugees, they are likely to remain refugee for several
years. Majority remain displaced for nearly two decades and this puts their
lives in limbo.
refugee camp has a population of 234,346 registered refugees and asylum seekers
as at the beginning of 2018. Dadaab refugee camp consists of four separate
camps with the first camps established in 1991 with refugees fleeing the civil
war in Somalia crossed the border into Kenya. The second large influx occurred
in 2011 where 130,000 refugees arrived from fleeing drought and famine in
southern Somalia. The old camps resemble naturally-grown towns and have
developed into commercial hubs connecting North-eastern and Southern regions of
Kenya and Somalia respectively.
crisis is compounded by the dwindling humanitarian aid (Ikanda, 2008).
Christopher P., et al (2017) asserts that humanitarian aid is funded by
donations from individuals, corporations, governments and other organizations.
However, lately people no longer give to charities like they have in the past.
Donor fatigue is something that has been on the rise in the recent years for a
variety of reasons. The major cause of donor fatigue is simply budget
exhaustion. Finally, the predicament of refugees who have lived outside their
country for more than five years is even worse. Donors are increasingly
reluctant to shoulder the burden of feeding these long-term or protracted
refugees. Lack of humanitarian funds for whatever reason has dire consequences
for the escalating refugee crisis.
business model is defined as the rationale behind the ability of an organization
to create, deliver, and capture values in an economic, social, cultural or
other context. Abraham (2012) argues that the process of business model
construction is part of business strategy. In
literature, business models are
considered essential aspects
of successful businesses,
as their main
purpose is to
differentiate a particular
company from others
and to provide
it with an advantage over
its rivalry (Johnson
et al. 2008; Teece 2010).
business model concept emerged in the context of e-business and many of the early
definitions are composed in this context (Timmers 1998, Afuah & Tucci 2001,
Amit & Zott 2001). Since then,
the concept has
been applied in
various industries ranging
from airlines to music recording
(Chesbrough 2010, Morris
et al. 2005), and definitions have been presented from perspectives such
as strategy, technology and entrepreneurship (Chesbrough & Rosenbloom 2002,
Morris et al. 2005, Shafer et al. 2005).
of long-term refugees’ self-reliance is widely advocated by academics and
practitioners discouraging refugee programmes that are only limited to relief
aid rather than sustainable development. Various initiatives have been
championed encouraging NGOs to move beyond the care and maintenance approach of
dependent on international assistance for protection, food, water, shelter,
medical, education and other human needs (2003; UNHCR, 2005; Sivolobova, 2012).
humanitarian aid agencies have sought to review their policies in an attempt to
create an effective transition between emergency humanitarian aid and
longer-term development (Konyndyk, 2005; UNHCR, 2005; 2011). Small scale
business is considered the best avenue in the drive towards the economic
self-reliance of refugees. Income generating projects are meant to provide
sustainable livelihoods, instil new survival skills in refugees, permit them to
enjoy a limited degree of financial autonomy and introduce money into a poorly
initially are fully dependent on aid from the international community. Since
many refugees settle in camps for years, humanitarian aid is not sufficient to address
their basic needs, so refugees are forced to coin other ways to self-sufficiency
(Werker, 2007).2 Since
many outsiders view camps as temporary refugee settlements that wholesomely
depend on foreign aid, they fail to see how refugee camps emerge as urban
environments that are full of commercial structures and generate their own
The main major reason for economic empowerment
move in refugee camps is because foreign aid is not sufficient to address all
their needs. Brees (2008) argues that Burmese refugees who live in Thailand
receive food rations that meet international standards, but there is no
provision of fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, or non-food items that they need,
hence have to look for alternative source.3
In addition, a study by Meludu (2009) about refugees in Nigeria found that “the
humanitarian efforts supporting Nigerian refugee camps is often not enough to
sustain them while in the camp for the period they are to stay.”
2 Werker, E. “Refugee Camp Economies.” Journal of Refugee Studies.
20.3 (2007): 461-480.
3 Brees, I. “Refugee Business: Strategies of Work on the Thai-Burma
Border.” Journal of Refugee Studies. 21.3 (2008): 380-397.