Justine Julius Supplier from Burundi


The Refugee Craft Shop

The Mikono Model

Mikono – The Refugee Craft Shop is an innovative model that promotes the economic inclusion of refugees in global value chains.  Firstly, JRS identifies refugees with artisanal skills. Secondly, it helps refugees create strong artisan groups. Thirdly, and most importantly it connects these groups with fair trade buyers around the world. Mikono convenes partners from the private sector to curate collections, create marketing opportunities, and make products available for sale to consumers worldwide.

Mikono – The Refugee Craft Shop is the Global Compact on Refugees brought to life. Through this innovative urban livelihood model, JRS is taking a whole-of-society approach and convene new partners who are contributing their business strengths to create a global ecosystem for refugee-made products.

Goals of the Mikono Shop

Today, over 70.8 million people have been forcibly displaced by war, violence, disaster, and persecution. Whenever refugees flee their homes, they leave behind their livelihoods and prospects, which are critical for self-reliance. This means refugees often have no choice but to rely on others for an average of 15-25 years. JRS believes that it doesn’t have to be like this. Having the opportunity to work and earn a living, to be self-reliant, is one of the most effective ways people can rebuild their lives with dignity.

In most cases, all refugees carry with them are their skills, traditions, and cultural heritage. Given the opportunity, refugees can use these assets to regain their economic independence and sense of self-worth.

  1. Uplift refugee artisans through income, skills, and the creation of sustainable networks.
  2. Introducing unique products to a global marketplace
  3. Keeping cultural traditions alive beyond forced displacement
  4. Reveal refugees as talented, positive contributors to their host communities, and societies in general.
By being flexible and thinking outside the box, It is possible to survive despite the suffering and challenges that exile brings.
Triphose, Mikono Supplier Since 2000

The Mikono Story

Mikono “Hands” in Swahili was established in 1993 as part of the livelihoods programme of Jesuit Refugee Service in Kenya. Founded by Fr James Martin SJ and other Jesuit Brothers, the goal was to give the refugees in Nairobi a place where to sell their crafts. Mikono works with 75 suppliers living in or around Nairobi, from over 10 different nationalities.

Shopping at Mikono is a tangible way to demonstrate solidarity with refugees while helping them earn valuable income. Each time someone buys a Mikono Shop product, they directly enable refugees to earn income and contribute to their host country’s economy. Each Mikono product demonstrates the talents that refugees possess and how they can become positive contributors to societies and economies.

Fr. James Martin SJ stands in front of the newly opened “Mikono Centre” in 1993 located in Gitanga Road, Nairobi.

Looking into the Future of Refugees Globally

Livelihood and economic inclusion of the forcibly displaced are a core priority for JRS around the world. Although opportunities to facilitate the production of refugee-made crafts are increasingly more common, the crafts are mostly confined to local markets, limiting the income refugees and displaced people could realistically obtain from a vocation as an artisan. Mikono – The Refugee Craft Shop in Nairobi, Kenya is looking to expand its e-commerce platform, establish Business-to-Business partnerships, and continue harnessing technology to make shipping and handling possible in other countries. This will allow for displaced people and host communities throughout Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Latin America to access a global market and create sustainable sources of business and employment.

Give now