Chapter 15: Innovation in refugee economies: supporting intermediaries that embrace informality
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This chapter seeks to highlight the role of refugees within innovation systems, specifically in informal sector innovation. Refugee communities are vibrant hotbeds of innovation, where migrants transfer knowledge and skills to new environments and entrepreneurship happens of necessity. Thus, there are many benefits that might flow to countries that embrace the innovative potential of refugees. At the same time, the world’s refugee population is growing faster than humanitarian aid’s capacity to keep up with the needs of refugees. To address this gap, the international community through policies such as the UN Global Compact for Refugees is calling for more sustainable solutions to ensure refugee self-reliance. Innovation and entrepreneurship in the informal sector is a promising path towards greater self-reliance. Countering the narrative that refugees are a drain on society, this chapter examines innovation by refugees in the informal sector in Uganda both within and outside of refugee camps. It showcases ways in which refugees have provided innovative solutions to community-faced problems that benefit both the host and refugee communities.

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