Empowering People in Informal Settings


The UN refugee agency has stated that a record 65.6 million people are either refugees, asylum seekers or internally displaced across the globe.

If you turn on the news today, you cannot escape the fact that we live in a turbulent world. Conflict, social-economic or political instability, inequality, weak institutions, and state legitimacy, and climate change are serious threats that have pushed people to migrate and will continue to do so. 

Health, education, and water services to refugees have been at the heart of humanitarian responses to sudden crises. These emergencies are the centerpiece of public compassion. And rightly so. But when initial media coverage wanes, the precarious situation of people who encountered these emergencies continues. In fact, the period of restoration after an emergency lasts much longer than the emergency itself - often for many decades.

While some refugees have settled in semi-permanent camps, many live in host communities - from urban slums - which are that are rapidly overtaking camps to remote rural areas. Often these locations become their homes for many years -Take for example Kakuma refugee camp which was established in 1992. It is clear, that there is an urgent need to stop thinking of informal settlements as a temporary measure and facilitate these communities with access to the services they need to thrive such as energy access and clean water.  Also, giving them an opportunity to improve their economic situation by creating employment opportunities in a market-based economy.

Market-based approaches are key in everything we do. We believe that the private sector, and especially local entrepreneurs, are essential to bring about change. SNV’s sustainable markets approach for low-income groups stimulates the demand for services, supports supply-side actors to improve the quality and availability of products while providing technical assistance to strengthen public governance and develop an environment for sustainable business.

We work with young people, refugees, and internally displaced persons (and their communities) to ensure inclusive business and income generating activities, access to energy and clean cooking, behaviour change through sustainable nutrition approaches, and access to drinking and irrigation water. We stimulate economic activity in communities, and to establish flourishing sustainable markets, where they do not exist.

Martijn Veen

Global Sector Coordinator Sustainable Energy Markets


What's new?

Our products

Off-grid Electricity

Communities without access to on-grid electricity are forced to rely on polluting and inconvenient kerosene lamps and batteries to light their houses. Unfortunately, for the most part, it is women and children who are affected due to the amount of time they spend in the household. To learn more about off-grid electricity, please visit the product page


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Off-grid Electricity

Clean Cooking and Heating

It is estimated that more than 2.6 billion people rely on traditional biomass fuels for cooking. Using solid fuel for this purpose can lead to highly negative economic, social and health impacts for low-income households. To learn more about clean cooking and heating please visit the product page


Our experts

Clean Cooking and Heating

Opportunities for Youth Employment

In some areas, more than half of young people do not have a job. Even more pressing is the global underemployment rate of 70%. We match young people with job opportunities that give them a chance to improve their lives. To learn more about our Opportunities for Youth Employment(OYE) product please visit the product page.  


Our experts

Opportunities for Youth Employment

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