recent study by International Finance Corporation showed that Kakuma camp and the surrounding area are a marketplace worth over $56 million. There are more than 2,000 businesses in operation. The refugees have strong spending and buying power, trading with local community hosts, and investing in buying everything from food and cosmetics to mobile phones. Approximately 69% of the camp’s residents also had access to mobile services and the internet, improving their future business and investment prospects.

In Kakuma, the success stories include Mesfin Getahun, who fled Ethiopia in 2001, but now manages a wholesale business so successful it has won him the nickname “the millionaire.” Kakuma is also home to Yiech Pur Biel, who was part of the first refugee team in history to compete at the Olympics, in 2016. The camp is also the birthplace of Halima Aden, the first hijabi model to grace fashion’s top runways.

Both Aden and Biel will share their inspiring stories on stage at TEDxKakumaCamp—another sign that giving opportunities to refugees helps them leap seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

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