Patterns of engagement with the private sector
Refugee Studies Centre Working Paper Series No. 95
This working paper is drawn from the seven-week mission in Uganda as a preliminary study of the Humanitarian Innovation Project (HIP) based at the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford. HIP seeks to research the role of technology, innovation and the private sector in refugee assistance. In our research, we focus on refugee livelihoods for several inter-related reasons. Despite growing academic work on refugee livelihoods, there has been little coherent research capturing and analysing existing practices, and identifying alternative approaches to livelihood development. Historically, many formal attempts to promote refugee livelihoods, or to bridge the gap between humanitarian and development approaches to refugees, have been state-led, often neglecting the role of the private sector and innovation as potential sources of solutions. We believe, however, that a better understanding of the role of the private sector, technology and innovation from a bottom-up perspective represents a crucial ‘missing link’ in better supporting sustainable livelihoods for refugees. There is no universal definition for ‘the private sector.’ In this paper, the private sector is broadly defined as any businesses that are not owned by states – both formal and informal – at all levels from small-scale firms set up by refugee themselves to large global corporations, including for-profit and non-profit.