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Kenya Climate Ventures’ Transformative Initiatives in Refugee Communities

  • By Charles Nyadero
  • April 8, 2024

In February 2024, Kenya Climate Ventures (KCV) participated at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) conference, co-hosted by the Refugee Investment Network in Kenya. This significant event centered on the overarching theme of enhancing livelihoods and fostering self-reliance among displacement-affected communities throughout the region. A follow-up to the 2019 Kampala declaration, the conference brought attention to the pivotal role of the private sector in providing cost-effective and sustainable solutions. KCV, a key participant, seized the opportunity to share insights on leveraging its investments in private businesses especially in northern Kenya and Kakuma/Kalobeyei in line with our value proposition that we offer patient capital and technical assistance to businesses in early and growth stage that align with both climate mitigation and adaptation.

The conference emphasized on the shift towards private sector initiatives for sustainable refugee affairs, moving beyond traditional humanitarian assistance. Notable developments included the IFC’s Kakuma/Kalobeyei Challenge Fund and the enactment of the Refugee Act 2021 in Kenya, allowing refugees to participate in economic activities. From the conference, its notable that there is a growing consensus that private sector initiatives are indispensable for the sustainable management of refugee affairs, signalling a departure from decades of reliance on humanitarian assistance. The need for reimagining solutions for refugees, emphasizing cost-effectiveness, dignity, and sustainability, is underscored. The event builds on successes and reflects changing attitudes, exemplified by Kenya’s Refugee Act 2021, enabling refugees’ participation in socioeconomic activities. Progress in proper documentation ensures their active engagement in economic development. This paradigm shift aligns with broader discussions, as illustrated by Kenya Climate Ventures (KCV) at the IGAD conference, emphasizing patient capital and technical assistance for businesses in early and growth stages aligned with climate mitigation and adaptation. Noteworthy developments include the IFC’s Kakuma/Kalobeyei Challenge Fund, pioneering private business involvement in refugee hosting areas, embodying the transformative shift towards sustainable and impactful interventions.

As part of impact investment movement, our investment strategy is to catalyse businesses that create measurable impact by providing solutions   to social, economic, and environmental challenges in their area of operations as they pursue financial returns to ensure they meet their obligations and sustain their operations. In that regard, not all business models can be scaled into refugee settings, because of the uniqueness and the existing challenges that differentiate the area to other markets. A case of Kakuma/Kalobeyei which is in northwest part of Kenya, Turkana County. The area is unfavourably Agro ecological, remote, rural, and still underdeveloped with hash climatic condition yet full of activities with over 3000 micro and small businesses. The business investment climate is underdeveloped with no clear land ownership policy as Turkana land is still communally owned and County government still lacks clear investment friendly policies like making Kakuma an economic zone.

Bolstering Refugees Through Innovative Investments

The refugee population creates a good consumption economy, with a population of over 290,000 people both the host and the refugees. However, for a business to thrive in the area, they need to conduct a thorough market survey and ensure that they have a good market size to support scalability of their business and ensure that the products and services are market fit and aligned to the refugee needs. Some may need to reinvent their products to ensure they fit into the refugee budgets and need. As KCV, one of the businesses we are currently supporting is a growth stage microfinance that was expanding their operations to Northern Kenya and refugee hosting area for the first time. From 2021, the company has supported 2366 households. 59% are women led households and 47.8% refugees’ households that has accessed solar home systems, productive renewable energy use equipment and working capital loans. They have also installed 0.1104 KW of clean energy through solar home systems and reduced Co2 emission by 5.2 tonnes through distribution of energy saving cook stoves in the camp and further created 21 direct jobs as loan officers and sales representatives.

Scaling Impact for a Sustainable Future

However, one of the challenges they encountered is that some part of the camp is dominated by the Somali entrepreneurs who could not take up the conventionally structured loans. KCV has partnered with Islamic Finance Institute of Kenya that not only to offer staff training but supported our portfolio companies to structure sharia compliant financial products for ehanced access to capital in the Northern Kenya, leading to increased number of Muslim refugees who are running small businesses access to productive renewable energy products and working capital loans for their products.

As a private business that is keen on return on investment , several inherent risks in the refugee settings  are worth note of that  include deeply rooted humanitarian mind set, it’s unusual to find that sometimes the products you are selling are being distributed to refugees for free by non-profit organization in the area, low purchasing power because majority of refugees relies on household cash transfers and in-kind donation by WFP& UNCHR. Political challenges by the local politicians to understand that not all private companies investing in the area are humanitarian based nor donor supported. Additional costs for staff training to upskill the employees and probably an extra cost of hosting your staff because of the perceived insecurity and lack of both residential and commercial offices. To support our investees, we have structured our funding as patient and concessional capital inform of equity or convertible debts to allow the company progressively to settle as they stabilize their cash flows before they start repayment.

Through strategic investments in Rafode Limited, Sunken Limited, and Hydroponics Limited, Kenya Climate Ventures (KCV) has catalysed transformative change within refugee communities. By 2023, KCV facilitated access to clean and affordable cooking and lighting solutions for over 50,000 households, while empowering local enterprises, particularly women and youth-led businesses, resulting in the creation and sustainment of approximately 4,600 direct and indirect jobs. Moreover, KCV’s initiatives have spurred the installation of 6.9 MW of clean off-grid solar energy, marking a significant reduction in CO2 emissions and championing the recycling of agricultural waste, thus fostering sustainable development within refugee settlements.


In 2024, Kenya Climate Ventures (KCV) is committed to an ambitious goal, doubling its investment in the region, aligning with the monumental objective of SDG 1: zero poverty. With a resolute stance against leaving refugees behind, KCV seeks to bolster its impact by supporting additional portfolio companies in the area. Recognizing the urgency of the situation and our established understanding of the refugee market, KCV is actively pursuing blended capital from both private and public sources, propelling its strategy to scale investments in refugee settings to new heights. As a stalwart advocate for change, Kenya Climate Ventures remains unwavering in its mission supporting, guiding, and empowering enterprises that stand at the forefront of addressing climate challenges and building resilience. Beyond financial backing, KCV is a dedicated partner in progress, offering the necessary expertise and guidance essential for these enterprises to not just survive but thrive in the realms of climate action and resilience.