Kenya and South Sudan

Supporting displaced communities achieve self-reliance through economic inclusion

A few months ago, Aluet, 27, was selling charcoal to secure an income and support her husband and three children in South Sudan. Today, she is training to become a qualified hairdresser, and aims to open her own beauty salon with the start-up capital she will receive as part of the Norwegian Refugee Council’s (NRC) Economic Inclusion (EI) project.
NRC's Economic Inclusion project is currently being piloted in Dadaab, Kenya and Aweil, South Sudan.

Framework for economic inclusion

More than 100 million people across the world have been forced to flee their homes, and over 78% of the world’s refugees have been living in a prolonged state of limbo – unable to return home and unable to fully settle in their country of refuge. Even if they return home, they often struggle to rebuild their lives in the wake of economic difficulties and limited working opportunities. It has become more crucial than ever before to help displaced communities find long-term solutions and become self-reliant.

NRC and the IKEA Foundation are working together to provide equitable access to financial services and job opportunities for individuals affected by displacement through the Economic Inclusion project.

By addressing barriers like limited access to finance, lack of necessary documentation for work, skills not in line with the needs of the market and discrimination, the project aims to help these communities overcome obstacles hindering their economic prospects. Before such barriers are addressed, however, basic needs should be met – individuals must feel safe and protected.

Reaching economic inclusion.

Entrepreneurial hopes

Aluet joined 24 of her peers in a group dedicated to saving money and securing loans as part of Economic Inclusion project’s implementation. The group meets every ten days to learn financial management skills like saving and borrowing. They are trained on different modules to help improve their saving and credit habits. The project also offers group members the chance to get a small loan to fund entrepreneurial business ideas.

Within the span of two months, the group saved up a collective 560,000 South Sudanese Pound, something they had never thought would be possible.  

Aluet has chosen to specialise in hairdressing and beauty treatment as part of her participation in the project. In the next phase of the project, she will receive tailored on-the-job training at an established salon to equip her with the necessary skills to open her own business.

The group hopes to continue to operate even after the project’s completion. NRC organised all 600 targeted project participants in South Sudan and Kenya into 24 such groups. Each group has 25 members and focuses on different livelihood options identified such as crop, animal and poultry farming, as well as beauty services, and hospitality/catering.   

“With the new knowledge we get [through the project], we should be able to care for ourselves,” says Aluet. “We should invest in a grinding mill so that we can serve the people to grind their grains, and at the same time we will make good money for the group.”

Aluet next to her home. Photo: Knut Andersen/NRC

Having choice

The Economic Inclusion project is implemented over two years. It assesses barriers, gathers evidence, and deciphers what works and what doesn’t for displaced communities. The project’s aim is to not only support income generation, but also equip people affected by displacement, like Aluet, with the tools they need to become self-reliant and decide their own futures.

If you are interested in partnering with NRC contact For further enquiries and additional information about the EI framework/project, please contact Knut Andersen, NRC's global lead for livelihoods and food security, at