A full classroom of refugees in Kenya listen to a presentation

A Humber College initiative has been awarded nearly $200,000 to empower refugees in Kenya who are women. The Entrepreneurship + Digital Livelihoods + Creative Arts (EDC): Socio-economic empowerment of women refugees in Kenya initiative is led by Humber’s International Development Institute (IDI) and was selected for funding and project testing to address entrepreneurship and digital problems refugee women face in Kenya. 

“EDC Kenya is innovative in its design and implementation as it aims to test a project that provides gender-sensitive digital entrepreneurship training opportunities and mentorship to refugees of all genders,” said Clarisse Estebar, Project Lead at Humber’s International Development Institute. 

The pilot project will run for 12 months with the support of local partner, CAP-Youth Empowerment Institute (CAPYEI). The $198,692 in funding was awarded through the Fund for Innovation and Transformation, a national program of the Inter-Council Network of Provincial and Regional Councils made possible through funding from Global Affairs Canada and administered by the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation. 

“For a long time, we have been considering working with marginalized communities to support their businesses for sustainable livelihoods,” said Benson Macharia, Entrepreneurship Program Coordinator at CAP Youth Empowerment Institute. “This project is the answer.” 

The goal of the EDC initiative is to address three challenges in Kenya — women’s access to livelihoods and entrepreneurship opportunities, opportunities to commercialize artistic talents, and overcoming obstacles posed by COVID-19. 

“The project builds upon existing skills in the areas of digital livelihoods and creative arts that aim to help participants in creating their own successful small businesses or grow their existing ones in order to support the initiative and the economic empowerment of women,” said Estebar. 

Humber’s International Development Institute, with support from Humber’s Faculty of Business, Centre for Entrepreneurship and Faculty of Media & Creative Arts will work with CAPYEI to adapt the existing business skills training program currently being implemented through CAPYEI to include a digital component to entrepreneurship and further mentorship to support urban-based refugees in Nairobi launch their online enterprises. 

“Project EDC Kenya is very vital as it reflects our vision on inclusivity,” said Macharia.   

The project’s program design is gender responsive and addresses inequities faced by the target community to allow entrepreneurs who are women agency in their business practices. EDC Kenya will advance the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 “Gender Equality,” SDG 8, “Decent work and economic growth,” and SDG 17, “Partnership for the goals.”   

Humber College’s engagement in the EDC Kenya aligns with its support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The SDGs are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. 


For more information and how to get involved, contact:  

Clarisse Estebar, Program Specialist at International Development Institute