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Strengthening Entrepreneurial Capacities – A Case For Socio-economic Integration Of Refugees in Kakuma, Kenya with Swisscontact

Strengthening Entrepreneurial Capacities - Blog Image

Enabling people to develop skills that will improve their livelihoods and chances of prosperity can be an incredibly meaningful and selfless task, but also a very daunting one. When you work with people who have lost their homes, fled political unrest, or sought refuge in a foreign country, supporting them to make a living and integrate into their host community goes much deeper than just about career guidance or organising training programmes to inspire and lead them into business. 

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Skills for Life (S4L) is a 3-year project implemented by Swisscontact in Kenya with the goal of strengthening the income generation capabilities of youth in the Kakuma Refugee Camp by enhancing technical, financial, life and literacy skills for improved livelihoods. The project beneficiaries were both the refugees and the host community. Given the inherent challenges of supporting refugees and the restrictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, it was critical to offer the kind of support that took into consideration the struggles and journeys of the S4L project beneficiaries.   

Before this Mentoring Programme, the Swisscontact trainers had a challenge with their abilities to connect and engage with the beneficiaries. Because of this, they had been struggling to help those they worked with make progress and breakthrough. Some of the barriers to progress included religious divides and difficulty to build trust or how to support their beneficiaries effectively.

Mowgli Mentoring came into the picture to deliver a 6-month-long mentor training programme in 2021 aimed at supporting the S4L project team comprised of the Swisscontact staff and community-based trainers in Kenya some of which are refugees. The programme had been carefully designed to factor in the reality of the circumstances within the refugee camp. We also needed to overcome challenges such as access restrictions within the camp due to the pandemic, unreliable internet connections, and lack of knowledge of how to use e-meeting platforms e.g., Zoom to:  

  1. Develop and strengthen the mentoring skills of the participants over a period of 1.5-months through group training sessions delivered online 
  2. Provide ongoing support for 6 months during which participants had the opportunity to refresh and embed their learning from the training by practising mentoring in their real-life contexts, sharing challenges that arose during their mentoring relationships and seeking guidance from their peers and the Mowgli Mentoring team on how to move forward.  

Did that help them better sustain their day-to-day activities and improve their relationships with their beneficiaries? Did they identify how they could best engage with them and enhance the outputs and outcomes for their beneficiaries?  

The community-based trainers/mentors learned how to listen actively, identify barriers, and problem-solve collaboratively—all of which helped them build rapport with their mentees, who were then able to open up about their own challenges and goals. 

They also learned how to use tried-and-true strategies like goal setting, as well as new methods that fit in with their mentoring and support styles.  

The result? A more engaged, motivated beneficiary body with a stronger sense of self-efficacy! 

Mentor training enhances confidence as a mentor

100% of the participants said that they feel confident enough to be able to deliver better mentoring that will have a greater impact on their beneficiaries as a result of completing the training sessions.  

We have been doing mentoring since we started the project for almost seven years, but we didn’t know what was mentoring. We were working in darkness. But Mowgli Mentoring has opened our eyes – they have given us knowledge and understanding on what is mentoring. We have the confidence – I myself have the confidence – to go in the field and talk to the beneficiaries, not only for Swisscontact beneficiaries, but even people outside our cover range. I feel so much happier now that I have the skills, which I never had before. Even in my learning process since primary college, I have never experienced such training and such a motivating experience that you have shown to us and given to us. We feel so proud as we graduate and what I want to tell the group is that the journey has now started. It began with the training but now that the implementation is here with us. We want to see that what we have been trained in, is being done now practically in the field.

Julyana Akoolo 

Mentor training strengthens mentoring relationships

100% of the programme participants said they are going to change the way you are doing mentoring.  

As a mentor, I feel, and I see that there is a lot to be done outside when I am meeting with the mentees. The skills that I have learned from this training has helped me improve how I will be interacting, acting, working together with the people that will be falling into my responsibility as mentees.”

Orte Mariao 

This new confidence and adjustment to mentoring results in them being able to give their direct beneficiaries today and ones in the future:  

  • More perspective 
  • Constructive feedback 
  • Inspiration, motivation, and encouragement  
  • A safe space to be actively listened to 
  • A sense of being cared for and trusted, resulting in working better through their challenges and what might be holding them back.  

Community-based trainer Eunice said that for a long time she mentored her mentee without any tangible success. However, as a result of the programme, she was able to move this relationship to the next level of delivery value. In her words:

“I helped my mentee feel comfortable talking to me by having informal meetings where we could go on walks or go out for picnics. She eventually opened up and told me all her issues. I showed her she could trust me, that I cared and above all I gave her space and time to reflect. Because of this, my mentee has been doing well and is in a better place now.” 

Community-based trainer James Madhi Riek worked with Christian and Muslim beneficiaries but on many occasions, both were not willing to work together.

“It was difficult because they didn’t want to talk to each other nor do any group activity together. I started to apply mentoring techniques and thanks to the mentoring process, both communities started to understand the benefits of working together” 

 

As a mentor, your goal is to help your mentee or beneficiary become the best possible version of themselves. But how do you do that? How can you help them go further and faster in their journey towards self-actualization? 


Mentoring relationships are powerful and effective because they allow people to gain insights into themselves and their world through the eyes of another. Mentor training helps you tap into that power by helping you build stronger relationships with those you work with. By helping you listen more carefully, ask better questions, provide constructive feedback, and create a space where your mentees feel comfortable opening up, mentor training will help improve your ability to understand what they need, how to cater to those needs, and therefore have a more tailored level of support. 

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