Peru, Ecuador

Economic Inclusion Project

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

Project Overview

Venezuela’s political and economic crises continue to lead Venezuelans to leave their country. As of August 2023, more than 7.7 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. Data from Peru’s latest National Employment Survey, released in September 2023, shows that unemployment reached 5.3%, a 1.1% increase from the same period last year, with 72.7% informal workers of the more than 17 million people employed in the country [2].
 Similarly, in Ecuador, during FY23 Quarter 2 (Q2), the national unemployment rate reached 3.8%, with 52.1% of workers relying on the informal economy [3].

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 – August 2023,” R4V,
[2] “Perú: Comportamiento de los indicadores del Mercado Laboral a nivel Nacional y en 26 Ciudades”, INEI, 
[3] “Encuesta Nacional de Empleo, Desempleo y Subempleo (ENEMDU), II trimestre abril – junio 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*

  • 8,328 individuals reached through entrepreneurship training programs
    • 63% Venezuelans
    • 74% Women
  • 1,261 business plans selected for seed capital
    • 75% Venezuelans
  • 6,616 individuals reached through webinars on registration, formalization, and best practices
*Data as of September 30, 2023

Derwin Medina

“With the School of Dreamers, I managed to plan, become more disciplined, focus on my goals, develop, and design my business expectations. It’s a comprehensive program that changed my life.”

Derwin arrived in Peru with his wife in 2019. He worked as a machine operator until he started selling meals to his co-workers. He decided to open a small food business, but he needed the tools to be able to get started. He participated in the School of Dreamers, and in doing so, managed to identify a niche market and started DELISUR. His specialty is Venezuelan Cachapas and 70% of his customers are Peruvian.


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*

  • 4,882 individuals reached through employment training programs
  • 2,540 individuals supported through the certificate or degree revalidation process
    • 72% Women
    • Primary sectors are humanities and education (35.9%), health (26.3%), and administrative (23.8%)
  • 501 businesses and 9,967 individuals reached through employment events including job fairs and employment clubs.

*Data as of September 30, 2023

Second Meeting of Venezuelan Professionals in Peru

On September 30, EIP held the second meeting of Venezuelan professionals in Peru. The event aimed to recognize and celebrate the achievements and efforts of migrant professionals who have worked tirelessly to adapt and contribute to Peru’s economy. The event brought together 80 professionals to the event hosted at the University of Lima, an institution that shares the common goal of socioeconomic integration. Other attendees included representatives of the Regional Association of Psychologists in Lima, Peru’s Ministry of Labor and Employment Promotion, the Municipality of Lima, Financiera Confianza, and Financiera Efectiva, among other project allies.


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*

  • 123,952 individuals connected with financial services
  • 9,177 loans issued, amounting to $12,300,366
  • 17,082 individuals trained in financial education, 66% of whom are women and 56% are Venezuelans

*Data as of September 30, 2023

Leyla Nieves

“I tried to open a savings account with another institution, but the process was very difficult. Now, thanks to [EIP], I finally have my [debit] card. This will help me have more opportunities in the job market.”

Leyla is a Venezuelan migrant who arrived in Peru in 2019 with her young child. She was able to achieve financial inclusion as part of the pilot campaign organized by EIP and Banco de la Nación to promote opening savings accounts for migrants.


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*

  • 620 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 September 30, 2023

Olga Rosa

"Being part of [the] ’Crecer en Peru’ [program] has allowed me to break free from routine, leave stress behind, make new friends, learn new things, and feel useful. Thanks to this, I will be able to generate my own income through my business and move forward with my son."

Olga is a Venezuelan migrant and a single mother with one son. She participated in the Crecer en Peru program, where she learned a new trade and received seed capital to kickstart her new business.

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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