AEC Entrepreneurs

Refugee entrepreneurs used AEC COVID-19 relief grants as a community lifeline

Abdulkadir Isaack Hessen
Owner, Grocery Store

“I am most happy when I make a difference in my community.” – Abdulkadir

As a Sudanese refugee living in Northern Kenya, Abdulkadir Isaack Hessen lost his entire family to the Darfur war.  When he came to the Kakuma camp, he opened a small grocery store, only to later have COVID-19 threaten the business around which he had re-built his life. 

In refugee camps across East Africa, small shops provide a critical service for the community.  Often isolated from larger markets, refugee grocers have replaced World Food Programme support, as food aid decreases.  With increased prices and decreased customer purchasing power, refugees found themselves approaching food insecurity with the advent of COVID-19.  Small suppliers of food staples were running low on supplies, leaving customers and business owners alike worried about feeding their families. 

AEC provided Abdulkadir with a one-time COVID Relief Grant of $320 — a small grant he used to restock the shelves and to afford himself the ability to sell on credit if his customers needed. This gave him the peace of mind that his business could survive this economic downturn.  

After regaining his own stability, Abdulkadir helped a fellow refugee who had also lost a spouse to create a phone charging business.

By maintaining a critical food store in Kakuma, Abdulkadir was then able to secure additional financing from AEC with a $456 loan from AEC.

Related Stories