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Working with dignity: Zawadi’s story


Inclusion | Rehabilitation | Kenya | PUBLISHED ON November 23rd 2022
Zawadi, business owner, in the Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya.

Zawadi, business owner, in the Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. | © E. Koka / HI

Zawadi 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.

Zawadi Balagizi, 31, is a vibrant and jovial woman. Because of her disability, her father chased Zawadi from the family. After seeking refuge in a church, Zawadi chose to come to Kenya to seek medical treatment.

The effect COVID-19 on small businesses

I began my journey from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Kenya in April, 2018. The main reason I embarked on the journey was to get medical attention at a hospital in Nairobi,” says Zawadi.

After arriving in Kenya, Zawadi ran out of financial resources and was transferred to the Kakuma refugee camp. There, she started a small business using her sewing skills to make table covers.

When the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global markets, Zawadi felt the impact as well. She depended on her church’s congregation to sell her products. Due to social distancing and indoor operations, people stopped coming to help her, and her customers dwindled.

Providing rehabilitation and livelihood support

Zawadi met HI at the rehabilitation center where she received physiotherapy sessions and a wheelchair. Zawadi was also included in HI’s livelihood support project. To help her conduct her business, the organization gave her a smartphone and supported her with counseling and training sessions.

The support I received from HI has helped me cope with life in Kakuma and the business sector,” says Zawadi.

Zawadi used the grant money she received from HI to improve the accessibility, expansion and dignity of her business’s work space. Thanks to HI’s support and the new skills she acquired during training and mentorship programs, Zawadi saw her living standard and business operations improve.

Future business prospects

Zawadi intends to expand her business and offer to provide uniforms, covers and other related fabric materials for a nearby local school. She is hopeful that, with time, she will be able to promote her business on social media and open new branches in the Kakuma refugee camp and Kalobeyei settlement.

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