With approximately half of the world’s refugees living outside camps, many are undertaking their own entrepreneurial activities, but most lack access to micro-loans that could help them start businesses. Few refugee-serving organisations have comprehensive loan programmes, and micro-finance institutions rarely target, or allow, refugees as beneficiaries. However, some refugee-run micro-finance programmes do exist, though there is little research on them. In this article for ODI's Humanitarian Practice Network, Robert Hakiza and Evan Easton-Calabria report on a research project that aims to illuminate not only the current state of micro-finance for urban refugees, but also how refugees’ own communities and networks can act as sites of innovation for bottom-up micro-finance programmes.
As the authors state, this research came about due to their experiences as founders and directors of small grassroots non-profit organisations in Kampala (Young African Refugees for Integral Development and the Paper Airplanes Project), and from academic engagement with the Humanitarian Innovation Project (HIP), based within the Refugee Studies Centre.
The project, funded by the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, aims to contribute an evidence base, recommendations and a model for refugee micro-finance for the international humanitarian community. It will also contribute to the promotion of policy environments that offer refugees the right to work and the right to freedom of movement.
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