Displaced, excluded, and making do: a study of refugee entrepreneurship in Kenya




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Peer reviewed



This paper uses the special context of the Kenyan encampment policy to interrogate the role of social capital as a driver of resourcing for entrepreneurial action in the resource-constrained environment of refugee entrepreneurship in Kenya This paper takes conceptual and case study approaches to investigate how refugees deploy social capital to aggregate and recombine resources for entrepreneurial action and livelihood outcomes. It draws on 21 selected secondary sources and semi-structured interviews of 24 respondents from Kakuma camp and Kalobeyei settlement, as well as Nairobi city in Kenya. The study proposes a new conceptual framework that illuminates the interaction between social capital, resource aggregation and resource recombination for entrepreneurial action and livelihood recovery. This framework was elucidated within the specific Kenyan context, where social capital was found to play a key role in enabling access to other resources such as financial and human capital to refugee entrepreneurs that would otherwise be inaccessible within the resource-constrained context. It also underlines the capacity of refugees to mobilise these resources in the creation of new ecosystems and institutions. While the conceptual contribution of the paper hold broad explanatory powers, the empirical aspect is limited in terms of its focus on the Kenyan contexts. Future studies can benefit from cross-country comparisons of empirical, including longitudinal, data. This paper makes original contribution by proposing a new conceptual framework that explains the bricoleur’s resource process through the lense of social capital in a resource-constrained and challenging institutional environment. This framework is elucidated with empirical qualitative data from Kenya. This study also signposts new operational and policy directions for humanitarian action among refugees.


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


Bricolage, Social capital, Refugees, Entrepreneurial resourcing, Refugee entrepreneurship


Luseno, T. and Kolade, O. (2021) Displaced, excluded and making do: a study of refugee entrepreneurship in Kenya. Journal of Entrepreneurship in Emerging Economies.


Research Institute

Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI)