Policy Brief

Could Digital Transition Be the Answer to Sustainable Refugee-Run Businesses? A case study on small businesses run led by refugees in Egypt

February 2022


The COVID-19 outbreak has posed new challenges and also introduced a new opportunity to shape an efficient and effective economic structure. As part of such a new economic structure, the empowerment and financial stability of refugees is a crucial element that can be fostered through digital transition. As digitised businesses proved more resilient in the midst of the pandemic. However, refugees are still facing significant business barriers which impedes their resilience and livelihoods in this new economic environment, especially as digital transition might pose additional risks of inequality should the transition lack a global strategy of inclusión for marginalised groups such as refugees.

This Policy Brief relies on 12 in-depth interviews with refugees running small businesses using digital channels, representatives from international non-governmental organizations, from local community development associations and from tech companies working on digital businesses. It provides recommendations to donors and relevant stakeholders on ways to further empower vulnerable refugees residing in Egypt and help them sustain their businesses in the context of the market’s digital transformation.


*Photo: Migrants attend a workshop called “Refugee Entrepreneurship Action Lab” in Berlin, Germany, January 30, 2016. Picture taken January 30, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke
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