Refugees that have been living in refugee camps for many years need a way to – literally – work on their future. They are desperately looking to shape their lives, to earn a living and boost their self esteem. Nathaniel Persky has found a way to offer just that, by bringing in factory and assembly work to the camps. Jobs for refugees in the camps: “It´s a humanitarian approach with a capitalist mindset,” Nathaniel Persky explains.
Two years ago Persky initiated Flash Construct, a Social Enterprise structured as a consulting firm that believes in humanitarian development as a key component to creating a better tomorrow. With the New Jersey (US) based Flash Construct, Persky looks to improve the life of refugees living in situations like the extensive Dadaab Camps in the northeast of Kenya.
What is the situation for refugees?
“Many refugees in Africa – like in Dadaab – face having to live out their lives in a situation that was meant to be merely a temporary solution to their problem. We focus on refugees that have been living in a camp for more than eight years and may be stuck there for the rest of their lives. I refuse to believe that this is a hopeless situation and prefer to focus on how to turn such a camp into a sustainable society where people could actually live for a longer period of time.”
What is your solution?
“I realised that aid money is not sustainable. There is simply not enough. So we have to develop a financial system in the camp itself. A local economy! Job creation! Many refugees would like to start a small business to earn an income, but lack funding. So we believe that they need jobs on a large scale, as well as a financial system in which they can spend the money they earn. They can use their money to build a better house, buy better food, better clothing.”
How is Flash Construct going to make a difference?
“We try to interest western companies in bringing part of their manufacturing over to these refugee camps and offer the people production, assembly or other factory jobs for reasonable Kenyan wages. Enough for them to make a living. The costs would be economically low enough to interest numerous companies and it´s a quick way of mass job creation! I am aware that bringing big companies into the camp requires a good structure that ensures transparent and fair humanitarian relationships, but I believe that humanitarian and capitalist life can mix. It could be a great solution for people who desperately want to work andmake a living.”
What are the next steps?
“We will fine-tune our concept and try to find support, as we are about to start negotiations with the Kenyan government. The experts are optimistic about the odds, and we feel that Kenya can benefit socially and economically from this plan. The refugee camps have become a huge financial burden on Kenyan society. Our concept will not fix the refugee problem overnight, but it will offer a way to create a sustainable society for the refugees.”
What do you need from the FlyingBlue Africa community?
“We would like to build a network and need more – Kenyan – knowledge and contacts. I would like to get in touch with people that can add to the concept, to make this idea work!”