Peru, Ecuador

Economic Inclusion Project

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

Project Overview

Declining economic conditions, and a corrupt and oppressive political regime in Venezuela are the leading causes of a rapid increase in migration. Despite rich natural resources, the economy has been in decline since 2013, leading to hyperinflation, high unemployment, food scarcity and rapidly deteriorating social services. Economists interviewed by the New York Times have called the crisis “the Worst Outside of War in Decades"[1].

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) estimates that nearly 7.2 million individuals have migrated from Venezuela [2], with an estimated 941,000 Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Peru and over 380,000 in Ecuador [3]. Despite international pressure, the political, social and economic situation in Venezuela continues to decline, leaving migrants no choice but to stay and build a life in their new communities. Not only are Peru and Ecuador forced to address humanitarian needs, but the countries must also now address complex economic challenges including migrants’ legal rights to live and work, ensuring local economic integration, and preventing discrimination, gender-based violence, and xenophobia.

Understanding the need for rapid assistance to Peru and Ecuador, WOCCU, with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), is implementing an ambitious and innovative approach aimed at providing economic opportunities and financial services to assist both Venezuelan migrants and refuges and their host communities, particularly in Lima, Peru, and Quito and Guayaquil, Ecuador. During phase one of the Economic Inclusion Project (EIP), initiated in June 2020, 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.

Given EIP's success, in May 2023, USAID awarded an extension through May 2026. This extension will broaden the project's reach to an additional eight cities, including Trujillo, Arequipa, Ica, Tumbes and Callao in Peru and Manta, Machala and Cuenca in Ecuador.

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]  New York Times, May 17, 2019
[2] The International Organization for Migration (IOM), March 14, 2023, 
[3] “World Migration Report 2022” The International Organization for Migration (IOM), June 14, 2023 . 

 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*

  • 8,056 individuals reached through entrepreneurship training programs
    • 63% Venezuelans
    • 73% Women
  • 1,261 business plans selected for seed capital
    • 75% Venezuelans
  • 5,915 individuals reached through webinars on registration, formalization, and best practices
*Data as of June 30, 2023

María Alejandra Bagur

“Thanks to [EIP] training, we implemented improvements in the management of [our] finances, which was a weakness for us. Now, our vision is to increase production so that people can find our products everywhere.”

María Alejandra Bagur is a Venezuelan living in Guayaquil, Ecuador. EIP and ÉPICO’s “Mi Sueño, Mi Negocio” program helped María to improve her business, “Tequecheese,” through learning about financial management. With this knowledge, María’s business continues to grow and gain recognition, receiving the award for the best tequeño in Guayaquil in 2023.


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*

  • 4,350 individuals reached through employment training programs
  • 2,037 individuals supported through the certificate or degree revalidation process
    • 73% Women
    • Primary sectors are humanities and education (35%), health (31%), and administrative (24%)
  • 489 businesses and 9,669 individuals reached through employment events including job fairs and employment clubs.

*Data as of June 30, 2023

Robert Tigrera

“The experience was something commendable, a job fair where at each booth there was a company, allowing all of us experiencing human mobility to access a job interview.

Robert Tigrera is a Venezuelan who has lived in Quito, Ecuador, for four years. He participated in the job matching event, "Talento Empleo," organized by EIP and the Sin Fronteras program. During this event, Robert had several job interviews with different companies, opening the door for potential new employment and strengthening his interviewing skills.


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*

  • 111,667 individuals connected with financial services
  • 8,546 loans issued, amounting to $11,232,747
  • 54% of all participants who have accessed financial services through EIP have been women, while 52% of all loans have been issued to women
  • 15,598 individuals trained in financial education, 66% of whom are women and 56% are Venezuelans

*Data as of June 30, 2023

Launch of the financial inclusion guide in Ecuador

In May 2023, EIP and the Superintendency of Popular and Solidarity Economy (SEPS) in Ecuador launched the "Guide for the Financial Inclusion of the Refugee and Migrant Population in Ecuador" (Guía para la Inclusión Financiera de Personas en Movilidad Humana en Ecuador). More than 30 partner credit unions, NGOs and other stakeholders attended the event which highlighted the guide as a significant step towards promoting the financial inclusion of the Venezuelan population in Ecuador as well as encouraging socio-economic integration in the country.


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*

  • 568 survivors of gender-based violence supported
    • 60% Venezuelan
    • 95% women
  • 356 staff from 17 partners trained on GBV prevention
  • 122 survivors of GBV received seed capital to begin their business.

*Data as of June 30, 2023

Sandra Romero

"Thanks to the [EIP] program, I learned to love my art. And with all the knowledge I gained, I was able to move my business forward... [EIP] motivated me to embrace my brand and give everything of myself to make it a success."

Sandra Romero arrived in Lima in May 2018, and worked on the street, selling chocolates at a stoplight. With the pandemic, her economic situation became more complicated. She participated in UVIP's School of Dreamers and won seed capital. She bought the supplies she needed to create her handcrafted jewelry and now runs her own jewelry business.


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