Report: Sustainability in Kenya's Informal Economy

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While the sustainable development agenda recognises that the economy plays a pivotal role in sustainable development, the informal sector, made up of millions of micro-businesses, has traditionally been viewed as a barrier to development. Emerging ideas have challenged this perception and actors are now considering whether the informal sector can indeed play a role in sustainable development. This paper aimed to explore what approach informal sector entrepreneurs took to sustainability issues as a means of providing evidence for this debate.

Data taken from 30 informal sector entrepreneurs from Balloon Ventures’ programmes and one government representative were analysed using thematic analysis. The findings, presented in an emerging taxonomy, indicate that contrary to traditional thinking, there were numerous examples of entrepreneurs running their businesses in sustainable ways. Moreover, there were a range of approaches that provided interesting insights for policy makers moving forward.