Freelance researcher

Freelance researcher

Part-time | Kenya | 9 month contract | 350- 450 GBP per day | Expected start date 1 May 2023

Please note, we’re assessing applications as they come in because we’d like someone to join us as soon as possible, so please don’t wait.

About the project

TRANSFORM, a joint initiative between the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and Unilever,  is funding a research project on ‘The future of work for the informal economy in Kenya’, implemented by Brink Foundation CIC.

In Kenya, the Jua Kali (informal economy) accounts for approximately 83% of total employment. From our previous research on the Repair and Reuse Economy in Kenya we learned that Kenya’s ‘invisible other 83%’ has a large and thriving entrepreneurial sector, but lacks data, inclusive, active participation frameworks, incentives and clarity on the types of business models and micro-enterprises that exist as livelihood strategies. We are now building on this work to look at the entire informal economy in Kenya with a particular focus on women and youth, who face greater levels of adversity.

Our research hypothesis is that, we believe that if we understand the wants and needs of the informal economy (“the other 83%”), we will be better positioned to positively shape the future of work in Kenya.

To test this we will apply a mixed methodology approach that blends co-creation, qualitative and quantitative research bringing people from across the ecosystem to collaboratively map and surface deeper insights into the informal sector segments and imagine the ‘Future of Work’ in Kenya, leading to actionable recommendations.

In partnership with our local research and knowledge partners, we will collectively produce a body of work that offers bottom-up evidence into who the ‘Other 83%’ of Kenya’s Jua Kali economy are, as well as surface a range of strategies to strengthen the sector and equip women and youth with skills and opportunities to thrive in the informal economy.

Key research questions

Together we will answer questions like:

  • WHO: Who are the ‘other 83%’? What are the different informal market segments? What are the unique circumstances and needs of women and youth?
  • WHAT: To survive and thrive, what are the different Jua Kali business models? What market linkages exist? Why are they working in this way?
  • WHERE: Where does activity happen in the informal sector? How do physical and digital spaces blend? How do the Jua Kali use technology and digital in their day to day activities?

We will then use this  insight to co-design the future of work in Kenya, with recommendations on how to best support the sector to get there.

Research approach

We are proposing a two-phased approach for this work.  The first phase of work will focus on landscaping and segmentation of the informal sector in Kenya, aiming to map and gather insight and evidence on ‘Who’, ‘What’ and ‘Where’. The second phase of work will build on this to start imagining a radically better future of work in Kenya with key actionable recommendations and ideas to take forward, by surfacing the needs and wants of 3-4 prioritised segments from phase 1.

We will use a range of collaborative qualitative and quantitative research activities such as: a crowdsourced literature scan, consultations with local and global experts, citizen researchers leading in-depth interviews, lean data collection (mostly achieved through SMS surveys) and Jua Kali in person meet-ups.

We will also work closely with a local storytelling partner throughout the project to capture stories as we surface them and to help produce a range of dissemination outputs including a Jua Kali storytelling series, a recommendations report and a ‘future of work’ report.

We are looking for

A Kenyan-based researcher to lead on the research work outlined above, working closely with Brink, a network of research and knowledge partners and a local storytelling partner.

We would expect you to work for ~1-2.5 days per week or the equivalent of up to 0.5 full time employment between 1 May 2023 and 31 January 2024.

The daily rate for this role is GBP £350 - 450 per day. You would be expected to have access to a laptop and reliable internet connection (permitting conference calls) throughout your time with us.

This role description has been drafted to provide a high-level definition of the initial requirements for this role. We would love to engage with you to define and co-design the key research questions and methodology given above  further.

What you’ll be doing

  • Lead on all research activities under the research approach outlined above incl. refining research questions and other related data collection tools, methodology, analysis and synthesis.
  • Lead, co-design and conduct collaborative qualitative and quantitative research activities under the research approach outlined above, in collaboration with our research partners.
  • Support specific research synthesis and dissemination activities in collaboration with our local storytelling partner.
  • Collaborate closely with other research, knowledge and storytelling partners, leaning on your in-country network of contacts where possible

Your skills and experience


  • Expert in mixed research methods (including participatory methods) and experience working with multi-disciplinary research partners, with a minimum of a masters level qualification(s), with a PHD being the preference.
  • Experience leading mixed methods research projects with multi-disciplinary research partners and stakeholders, including co-design of data collection tools and processes, analysis and synthesis of findings.
  • Knowledge of qualitative and quantitative data analysis software such as (but not limited to) SPSS or NVivo. We would love to hear of other tools you have used or would love to recommend for this research opportunity.
  • Effective written and verbal communicator. As a research lead, you establish rapport and are able to relay messages clearly and across different organisational and geographical contexts and virtually (ie. online) and in-person. You have strong experience and abilities adapting your communication style to different audiences when needed.
  • Able to work at pace. As an academic researcher you strive to match academic rigour with tight deadlines in a way that results in velocity.


  • Deep sectoral knowledge and understanding of the informal economy in Kenya.
  • Experience working with marginalised groups including women and the youth.
  • Strong network of local research and knowledge partners.
  • Previous publications including suitable Journal Articles, blog posts and other articles - please share links in your application.

On a more human level:

  • Responsible and empathetic. You value the voices behind the numbers and understand the importance of inclusivity and cultural sensitivities.
  • Collaborative and intraoperative. You value collective intelligence, and thrive through collaboration with others.
  • Loves to experiment with new research methods and approaches. This means you are creative, are fine with getting ‘done’ rather ‘perfect’, and find meaningful ways to continue learning.
  • Interested in how things can be better, whether it’s ways of working, team communication or imagining a whole new world.
  • Enjoys ‘making others shine'. Brink is a low-ego zone that thrives on making our colleagues, clients and collaborators shine.

Finally, our ambition for this piece of work is to do things differently and better. We want to experiment with new approaches, to be as inclusive and participatory as possible, and to find solutions that look beyond existing biases such as applying a formal lens and be innately non-extractive. If this sounds like your cup of tea, we’d love to work with you!

How to apply

If you’re interested in joining us, please click on our beautiful ‘apply here’ button below. This will take you to an online application form where we will ask you to upload your CV and a cover letter outlining your suitability and ambitions for this role.

📅 We’re assessing applications as they come in, so please don’t wait. You will receive an email from the system to confirm your application has been received and we will be in touch (we aim for within 2 weeks) to let you know if we’ll be taking it further.

🔗 Our commitment as Brink

We hire people that don’t just ‘fit in’, but instead actively seek to help build and shape our culture. That’s why diversity and inclusion matters to us. We work globally across geographies, contexts and organisations, so embracing diversity, being inclusive and treating people with equity are central to what we do; we take pleasure in being that way.

Brink is committed to being an inclusive workplace that represents the diverse communities we serve and we actively encourage applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds. We particularly encourage applications from Black, POC, transgender identities and disability groups, who are currently under-represented within Brink.

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability or age. We are happy to discuss any reasonable adjustments individuals may require in the recruitment process, on commencement, or once in post.