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Aziza, Omot and Khalid all entrepreneurs: their battle against Covid-19


Inclusion | Kenya | PUBLISHED ON June 8th 2023
Beneficiary is living in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, where she manages a small business. Through training and mentoring, HI helped her to cope with the effects of COVID-19 and expand her activity.

Vincent, beneficiary is living in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, where he manages a small business. Through training and mentoring, HI helped him to cope with the effects of COVID-19 and expand her activity. | © E. Koka / HI

Thanks to financial aid from HI and support from the Mastercard Foundation, many people have been able to cope with the consequences of the Covid-19 crisis.

The livelihood development project

The Covid-19 health crisis led to the temporary or permanent closure of most micro, small and medium-sized businesses, resulting in massive job losses. HI implemented various measures to help business owners adapt to the market disruption caused by the pandemic. In Kenya, HI carried out a livelihood development project. This project was supported by the Mastercard Foundation's Covid-19 recovery and resilience programme.

Three years after the start of this crisis, Aziza, Omot and Khalid, three entrepreneurs supported by this project, share the challenges they have overcome to succeed despite the health and economic crises.


Aziza is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo. When she arrived in Kenya, she settled in Kakuma and opened her hotel, where she also owns a fabric shop.

When the global pandemic disrupted the entire population, Aziza encountered some financial difficulties. The impact of the pandemic on world markets and the successive confinements reduced her customer base. This had a terrible impact on her life, as she was no longer able to provide for her family. As a mother of 6, Aziza feared for her future and that of her children.

Aziza met the HI team in Kakuma. Thanks to the organisation's livelihood development project, she has received a grant that has enabled her to resume her business. She bought more tables, chairs, plates and food for her hotel to better serve visitors. Today, Aziza's business is flourishing and she is very grateful for the help provided by HI.  

"I'm very grateful for the support HI has given me. Thanks to it, I can continue my business and take care of my children."


Omot is visually impaired and has opened his own grocery shop. He sells a range of products, including food (fruit, vegetables, sweets, etc.), drinks (fruit juice, soft drinks, etc.), clothes and shoes. He is a great contributor to the community, as his shop supplies many people.

The crisis did not spare his business; prices had become too high and he was thinking of closing up shop. Fortunately, he was able to benefit from the livelihood development project and receive financial assistance from HI.

Omot's business has returned to profitability, enabling him to become financially independent once again. Now he wants to expand his business and open a second shop.

"I'm happy because today I'm financially independent and I'm contributing to the well-being of the community."


Khalid arrived in Kenya in 2018 and, as soon as he arrived, he opened a business. He has now been selling electronic products (chargers, SIM cards, etc.) and food (fruit, vegetables, drinks, etc.) in his shop for five years. Khalid has also been hit hard by the economic crisis of 2020, which has had a negative impact on his business. The inflation in the prices of the products he sold meant that his business was no longer profitable. What's more, as prices rose, fewer and fewer customers were coming in.

Also a beneficiary of financial assistance from HI and the Mastercard Foundation, Khalid has managed to keep his business afloat. Today, he can buy new goods for his shop and continues to supply his community.

"I'm delighted to be able to supply all these products to my community, especially as it's difficult to get access to this type of product in the region.”

The Mastercard Foundation joins forces with HI to support refugees in Kenya. The Mastercard Foundation's COVID-19 recovery and resilience programme has two main objectives. Firstly, to provide emergency support to health workers, the most vulnerable and school children. Secondly, to strengthen the various institutions that form the first line of defence against the social and economic consequences of the pandemic, such as schools, small businesses and youth organizations. The project began in February 2021 and ended in March 2023. It provided accessible digital teaching materials to more than 1,300 pupils, trained nearly 200 education stakeholders in inclusive education, and nearly 200 micro-entrepreneurs received training to strengthen the resilience of their businesses.

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