Article written by Pamela Ephraim from Techfugees Nigeria
In a bid to provide solutions to one of the largest humanitarian crisis in the world through the use of technology, Techfugees Nigeria created “Displaced market”.
Techfugees, a global non-profit organization using technology as a universal catalyst for inclusion of displaced and refugee communities, opened its Nigerian chapter in September 2019. Consequently, a needs assessment survey was conducted to determine the severity of challenges faced by forcibly displaced people in the country’s capital city, Abuja.
The Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have faced significant difficulty for over a decade since the conflict ravaging their hometowns and villages in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states has left a total of 8.7 million people in need of some form of humanitarian assistance and 6.4 million most vulnerable people in need of critical services. Thousands of them who found their way to Abuja, now seek refuge in IDP camps. Abuja houses over 40 of such camps.
The living conditions in these camps worsened when the Federal Government of Nigeria reportedly stopped catering for the welfare of IDPs in Abuja since 2019. Left to cater for themselves and their families, IDPs face multiple obstacles: loss of assets, lack of social networks and finite access to markets.
When Brian Oyewole and Lediju Olaonipekun, co-leads of Techfugees Nigeria visited Durumi and Kuchingoro camps in Abuja, their aim was to explore ways to foster access to employment and education. They observed that many IDPs obtained vocational training from NGOs and religious organizations but failed to utilize their acquired skills as a result of these obstacles. The impact of the pandemic has also been devastatingly severe on IDPs who barely have a means of livelihood.
In order to inclusively target the diaspora market who cherish handicrafts items made by IDPs, Techfugees Nigeria opted for the creation of an e-commerce solution to help improve the living standards of people taking refuge in these camps to enable them sell the items they have learnt to produce.
A virtual workshop held on April 21st 2020 and subsequently, an online shopping site DISPLACED MARKET.com was designed. The e-commerce platform for Nigeria’s internally displaced people (IDPs) sells Handy crafts made by displaced persons such as native hats, tie and dye fabrics, clothing, bags, pottery, beads and other accessories. Please visit www.displacedmarket.com !
Techfugees Nigeria has partnered with Shopify to use their platform without fees and is still striving to collaborate and learn from more actors from the e-commerce sector. Its major request is support for Digital Training skills tailored to product marketing and mentorship support in order to achieve the objective of training at least five hundred women and children who are most vulnerable in these camps.
The chapter is also seeking production partnership to help provide work hubs where products can be designed on an agreed standard. It also aims to secure tech support, funding and global awareness amongst other objectives proposed for 2021. For that purpose, we are launching a crowdfunding campaign on June 10th to support these IDP craftswomen through e-commerce in Nigeria.
The proceeds generated from DISPLACED MARKET.com will go towards building shelters for their craft work and providing training opportunities for more displaced persons.