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Prosperity for all

Slums and informal settlements are often vibrant centres of economic activity, with a mesh of small-scale enterprises and home-based work. This report explores their role in participatory slum upgrading.

Urban refugees

Urban refugee economies, Ethiopia

This project breaks new ground in examining the economic contribution of urban refugee livelihoods to their host towns and cities.

Street stall

Productivity in the informal economy

A joint study with WIEGO and UN-Habitat argues for radical policy paradigms to promote inclusion of informal economy workers in urban dialogues.

Busy street in Kathmandu

Post-conflict urban livelihoods

The urban informal economy’s critical role in poverty-reduction, peace-building, and economic recovery in post-crisis or conflict cities, is explored through this impact-focussed research.

Community housing

Livelihoods and community-led housing

This projects examines ways to measure the livelihoods impact of the CLIFF programme through a pilot project with NACHU, Nariobi.


Inclusive growth

Access to finance for micro- and informal economy enterprises, is an important stepping stone to securing livelihoods and economic growth, but needs improved regulation and consumer protection, explored through this study.

Female street trader

Rights in the City

Adopting a rights-based framework, this research explores the evolution and impacts of policies affecting street traders in two Latin American cities, Cusco and Quito.

Street trader in Arab spring

Street trading in the Arab Spring

Street traders in post-revolution Cairo and Tunis faced many challenges. This research examined whether unrest and insecurity made trading more precarious, or whether the uprising brought a new legitimacy to trading.

Market in Tanzania

Law and rights for the informal economy

This research seeks to understand the risks and vulnerabilities to urban livelihoods operating in plural and contradictory legal and regulatory environments.

Chinese goods in Africa

Global exchange

Globalisation and the increasing imports of Chinese-manufactured goods to sub-Saharan Africa has had major effects on the African street economy.

Cusco market

Children in informal trading: Cusco, Peru

Cusco, Peru, is a city where children’s involvement in the urban informal sector is particularly visible, and this study investigates the geography of children in informal trading in the city.

Street trader in Ghana

Making a living in the street

This research uses the lens of the urban livelihoods framework to examine how poor people, both street traders and other informal sector operators, access and use public space to support their livelihoods.

African trader in China

African traders in China

These research projects in Guangzhou demonstrate how Chinese and African traders are creating a ‘third tier’ of globalization, through individual entrepreneurship and initiative, creating value chains that are neither producer nor consumer-led.

Street trading in Togo

Global recession and poverty in Africa

This project explored the effect of the 2008-09 global recession on exports of garments and small manufactured goods from Guangzhou to street traders in Lomé, Togo, that demonstrated the precarious growth of the China-Africa trade.

Picking tea

Fair trade and the informal economy

Fair trade governance operates in formalised supply but much of the fair trade movement aims to support own-account workers and micro-enterprises often operating in the informal economy.