Peru, Ecuador

Economic Inclusion Project

Connecting Venezuelan Migrants and Low-income Locals to Financial Services, Employment and Entrepreneurship 
June 2020 - May 2026

Find EIP Resources Here

Project Overview

Venezuela’s political and economic crises continue to lead Venezuelans to leave their country. As of November 2023, more than 7.72 million individuals have migrated from Venezuela, with an estimated 1.54 million Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Peru and 474,900 in Ecuador [1]. Despite international pressure and alleged economic improvement, the situation in Venezuela continues to deteriorate, leaving Venezuelan migrants and refugees with little hope of returning to their country and prompting most to build a new life in their host countries

For its part, host countries continue to experience growing political instability, inequality, social upheaval and a surge in violence and crime, which exposes migrants and refugees to increased unemployment, heightened gender-based violence (GBV), and xenophobia. In addition, hosting large numbers of Venezuelan refugees and migrants, both Peru and Ecuador face several key issues related to this crisis, including addressing the legal rights of migrants to reside, work, and/or own a business in their new country and access financial services to ensure migrants’ economic and social integration.

Unemployment and informality continue to greatly impact host country nationals and Venezuelan migrants and refugees.  In 2023, Metropolitan Lima had an unemployment rate of 6.8%, reflecting a 1.0% decrease from the previous year [2].
Despite this improvement, as of September 2023, the Peruvian Encuesta Permanente de Empleo Nacional indicated that 71.9% of the more than 17 million people employed had informal jobs [3].  In Ecuador, although the national unemployment rate remained at a steady 3.8% between FY23 Quarter 2 (Q2) and Quarter Three (Q3), the percentage of the population working in the informal economy increased from 52.1% in Q2 to 53.2% in Q3 [4].

As these data reflect, informal employment continues to grow in both countries. Informal economies are typically characterized by a high incidence of poverty, lack of social protections, and low wages, highlighting the importance and need for supporting opportunities for engagement in the formal economy.

Understanding the need for rapid assistance to Peru and Ecuador, WOCCU, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is implementing the Economic Inclusion Project (EIP), an ambitious and innovative approach aimed at providing economic opportunities and financial services to assist both Venezuelan migrants and refuges and their host communities in the target cities of Lima in Peru and Quito and Guayaquil in Ecuador. Given EIP's success, in May 2023, USAID awarded an extension through May 2026. With the project extension, EIP will expand implementation to include Trujillo, Arequipa, Ica, Piura, and Callao in Peru, and Manta, Ibarra, and Cuenca in Ecuador. These geographies were selected due to the large population of Venezuelan refugees and migrants.

During phase one of EIP, initiated in June 2020 until March 2023, 109,679 individuals obtained formal financial services, 15,120 individuals received financial education and literacy training, 12,278 Venezuelan migrants and locals accessed entrepreneurship or employment opportunities, and 2,037 Venezuelans received support for revalidating their diplomas, or professional or technical degree certifications.

Some key target goals for phase two include providing an additional:

  • 140,000 Venezuelans and locals with access to formal financial services.
  • 17,000 individuals with entrepreneurship and employment opportunities.
  • 6,000 Venezuelans with support to revalidate their professional or technical degrees and certifications.

To reach its goal, EIP has adapted and implemented entrepreneurship (Objective 1) and employment (Objective 2) training programs targeted at migrants and refugees considered above the level of immediate vulnerability. WOCCU also works with its trusted network of credit union, NGO, and private sector partners to extend new or adapted financial products and services to vulnerable Venezuelans and local populations (Objective 3). 

In response to the significant impact that gender disparities have on economic independence and stability, EIP has integrated gender inclusion into the three objectives outlined above. Additionally, EIP delivers critical GBV prevention and accompaniment.

 In addition to these objectives and cross-cutting theme, phase two of EIP will also prioritize:

  • Programs and strategies that allow for the inclusion of youth and LGBTQI+ communities.
  • Capacity-building for credit unions and other local organizations.
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation through the promotion of green entrepreneurial businesses, jobs and financial products.
[1] “R4V Latin America and the Caribbean, Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants in the Region – November 2023,” R4V, 

[2] ”Informe Técnico de Situación del Mercado Laboral en Lima Metropolitana, correspondiente al trimestre móvil octubre-noviembrediciembre 2023”

[3] “Perú: Comportamiento de los indicadores del Mercado Laboral a nivel Nacional y en 26 Ciudades”, INEI,   

[4]  “Encuesta Nacional de Empleo, Desempleo y Subempleo (ENEMDU), III trimestre julio - septiembre 2023”, INEC, 

 Objective 1: Assisting New and Existing Entrepreneurs

Through this objective, the Economic Inclusion Project is supporting both aspiring and experienced entrepreneurs with advisory services to establish a business in the host country, technical support with business planning and execution, and linkages to new markets. By the end of the project's phase two, we expect that at least 17,000 individuals will be supported with entrepreneurship or employment training through the following approach:

Figure 1: WOCCU's Entrepreneurship Methodology

WOCCU Entrepreneurship Methodology

Results To Date*

  • 8,602 individuals reached through entrepreneurship training programs
    • 36% Venezuelans in Peru
    • 29% Venezuelans in Ecuador
  • 1,327 business plans selected for seed capital
    • 75% Venezuelans
  • 7,610 individuals reached through webinars on registration, formalization, and best practices
*Data as of December 31, 2023


“Being in the program has strengthened my knowledge in finance and in effectively
segmenting potential clients, as well as establishing the best customer loyalty strategies.”
Betzabeth Moya is a Venezuelan migrant who has been living in Peru for five years. She runs a business called “Las Gonzalez” selling eco-friendly bags. Betzabeth participated in the Municipal Incubators program organized by EIP and the Lima Metropolitan Regional Government, strengthening her business management skills as an entrepreneur.


Objective 2: Facilitating Access to Employment

Through this objective, the Economic Inclusion Project is working with private sector employers to expand their recruitment efforts to include highly qualified Venezuelan migrants as well as Peruvians and Ecuadorians seeking new or better employment. The Project will also work to train project participants to provide them with the tools they need to meet the demand of the Peruvian and Ecuadorian job markets. By May 2026, through the following approach, we expect that 6,750 individuals will access new or better employment opportunities leading to more stable incomes.

Figure 2: WOCCU's Employability Methodology

WOCCU Entrepreneurship Methodology

Results to Date*

  • 5,056 individuals reached through employment training programs
  • 2,682 individuals supported through the certificate or degree revalidation process
    • 62% Women in Peru
    • 64% Women in Ecuador
    • Primary sectors are humanities and education (35.3%), health (25.5%), and administrative (23.7%)
  • 501 businesses and 10,652 individuals reached through employment events including job fairs and employment clubs.

*Data as of December 31, 2023


"I found the Valiosos platform practical and instructive for job searching, and the most valuable aspect is the extensive variety of job sectors available. I secured employment through [the platform], and I am only 18 years old with limited experience.”
Brandom Aliendres is an 18-year-old Venezuelan living in Peru. He planned to work after finishing high school to make money to pay for his higher education. He participated in the virtual training conducted by Veneactiva, where he accessed the Valiosos platform, created his professional profile, and applied for various positions. Currently, he works as an advisor in the collections department at Financiera Oh!, ranking among the top five in the portfolio he is responsible for.


Objective 3: Increasing Access to Financial Services

Through this objective, the Economic Inclusion Project will work to support credit unions and other financial institutions to develop new or adapt existing products and services that meet the needs of Venezuelan migrants and local nationals.

Designed to be responsive to the findings of the financial inclusion study, EIP’s financial inclusion methodology is founded on the premise of enabling access and use of financial products and services, particularly those that respond to EIP’s target population needs. To implement this methodology, EIP works closely with a strong network of financial institutions, working side-by-side with each institution to reduce barriers to access and inclusion, develop new and responsive tools, improve processes, revise policies and procedures, implement new or adapted methodologies, and strengthen staff skills and knowledge. Through EIP’s financial education training, EIP participants learn the fundamentals of personal and business financial management before being connected to the financial services sector. This approach ensures that when participants and institutions are linked, both are well prepared and educated on the other’s needs and requirements. Through the following approach, we expect that over 140,000 individuals will have access to financial services by the end of the project's phase two.

Figure 3: WOCCU's Financial Inclusion Methodology

WOCCU Entrepreneurship Methodology

Results to Date*

  • 137,604 individuals connected with financial services
  • 12,535 loans issued, amounting to $15,355,530.
  • 19,206 individuals trained in financial education, 65% of whom are women and 57% are Venezuelans

*Data as of December 31, 2023

Second Edition Of The International Financial Inclusion Congress

In November 2023, USAID, WOCCU, ILO, University of Lima, and SBS coorganized the second edition of the International Financial Inclusion Congress in Peru. The Congress had 200 participants from financial entities and 30 experts from seven countries who shared their experiences and strategies to promote financial inclusion for migrants, refugees, and vulnerable local populations, specifically women and youth.


Prevention of Gender-Based Violence (GBV)

EIP’s GBV interventions prioritize supporting survivors of gender-based violence to achieve economic autonomy. EIP’s approach focuses on a core principle – that with psychological/social support and access to income/financial autonomy, people who experienced GBV will transition to survivors with access to sustainable and quality livelihoods, income, and financial independence, contributing to their ability to leave the circle of violence.

EIP has established partnerships with institutions and organizations providing continual psychosocial support for GBV survivors and with partners implementing entrepreneurship and employment trainings that emphasize empowering survivors to develop personal action plans that identify their strengths, professional and personal interests, and opportunities as well as practical steps to reach their goals. Additionally, EIP's approach includes personal financial education at its core so that individuals are empowered to take meaningful steps to exit the cycle of violence and reach economic autonomy as survivors.

Figure 4: WOCCU's GBV Response and Prevention Methodology

WOCCU Entrepreneurship Methodology

Results to Date*

  • 726 survivors of gender-based violence supported
  • 356 staff from 17 partners trained on GBV prevention
  • 122 survivors of GBV received seed capital to begin their business.

*Data as of December 31, 2023

Job And Entrepreneurship Fair: Empóderate, Mujer

In November 2023, EIP and the Municipality of Barranco, in Lima, Peru, organized the “Empóderate, Mujer” Fair, an event for female entrepreneurs and women seeking to enter the job market. Companies such as Adecco,
Cencosud, Fortel, Call Business, Atento, and Konecta, as well as job search platforms, offered over 700 job opportunities to fair attendees. Additionally, EIP partner financial entities, Financiera Confianza, Caja Huancayo, La Rehabilitadora Credit Union, and Financiera Efectiva, offered the opportunity for attendees to open savings accounts and provided information on loans.

Supporting Capacity Building/Localization

With the project extension, EIP has integrated capacity building/localization as a main EIP component, embracing USAID’s commitment to localization to strengthen local organizations by transferring methodologies and improving capacity. EIP will strengthen the organizational capacities of local partners to implement entrepreneurship/employment programs and/or offer financial services in a sustainable manner, to continue to enhance migrants’ contributions to the development of Peru and Ecuador beyond the life of EIP.


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EIP Resources

EIP Resources

Find all the resource guides and manuals the Economic Inclusion Project has produced to assist beneficiaries in Peru and Ecuador. (Spanish-language only)