Peru, Ecuador

Economic Inclusion Project

Connecting Venezuelan Migrants and Low-income Locals to Financial Services, Employment and Entrepreneurship 
June 2020 - June 2023

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 UN International Office of Migration estimates that five million individuals have migrated from Venezuela, With an estimated one million Venezuelan refugees and migrants in Peru[2] and over 450,000 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 USAID, will implement an ambitious and innovative approach aimed at providing economic opportunities and financial services to assist both the newly arrived Venezuelans and their host communities. Initiated in June 2020, the three-year Economic Inclusion Project aims to support 100,000 Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Peru and Ecuador to achieve socio-economic security.

To reach its goal, the Economic Inclusion Project 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. This approach assists survivors of GBV in accessing the support and assistance necessary to ensure that they are able to participate in EIP activities, promoting the economic autonomy of survivors.

[1]  New York Times, May 17, 2019
[2]  “The Humanitarian Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic for Venezuelans in Peru, One Year In.” Refugees International, May 2021.
[3] “Ecuador.” ACAPS, January 6, 2021.

 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, we expect that at least 10,000 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*

  • 7,649 individuals reached through entrepreneurship training programs
    • 61% Venezuelans
    • 73% Women
  • 1,261 business plans selected for seed capital
    • 75% Venezuelans

5,023 individuals reached through webinars on registration, formalization, and best practices

*Data as of December 31, 2022

Daniel Bracho

“My experience with the UIO Integra program was really important. Thanks to the knowledge I gained, we are opening new music labs in various communities, generating employment opportunities for Venezuelan teachers who had been playing informally on streetcorners.”

Daniel Bracho is a Venezuelan symphony orchestra director, who has been in Ecuador for over five years. With his wife, he started the José Antonio Abreu Center for Musical Studies Foundation. Over 250 boys, girls, and adolescents have attended the Center, seeing music as a new dream. Thanks to his participation in the UIO Integra program, offered by ConQuito, in partnership with EIP, Daniel gained new knowledge and skills to help him manage his foundation.


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 the end of the project, through the following approach, we expect that 2,500 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*

  • 4,307 individuals reached through employment training programs
  • 1,981 individuals supported through the certificate or degree revalidation process
    • 73% Women
    • Primary sectors are humanities and education (35%), health (31%), and administrative (24%)

482 businesses and 9,655 individuals reached through employment events including job fairs and employment clubs.

*Data as of December 31, 2022

Georgina Meléndez

“As a medical surgeon, the migration process was really difficult and challenging for me. I missed being a surgeon, and it has been three years since I have been able to practice. However, I now feel as though I am a step closer to returning to my field.”

Georgina Meléndez is a medical surgeon who specializes in gynecology and obstetrics. Venezuelan, she arrived in Peru in November 2019 while pregnant. She was able to obtain a job supporting a private doctor as an assistant. She learned about the support provided by EIP to revalidate her credentials in Peru and reached out to request assistance to pay for the ENAM exam which she received through the seed capital fund. Now that she has passed the exam and has the required credentials to operate in Peru, she is able to diagnose and treat patients herself.


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 100,000 individuals will have access to financial services by the end of the project.

Figure 3: WOCCU's Financial Inclusion Methodology

WOCCU Entrepreneurship Methodology

Results to Date*

  • 98,274 individuals connected with financial services
  • 14 products have been developed or adjusted with partner financial service providers
  • 7,531 loans issued, amounting to $9,816,048
  • 55% of all participants who have accessed financial services through EIP have been women, while 52% of all loans have been issued to women

14,282 individuals trained in financial education, 66% of whom are women and 52% are Venezuelan in addition to 169 organizations that have been trained on WOCCU's methodology

*Data as of December 31, 2022

Deisy Arbelay

“Thanks to the first digital credit that I was able to access following my participation in the financial education workshop, we have been able to receive a second and a third loan and are currently planning on applying for a fourth. We are still growing and feel safe banking with the credit union, especially as a foreigner who had little capital to begin our business”

Deisy Arbelay is a Venezuelan who has lived in Peru since 2017. She participated in a financial education seminar and opened a savings account with the credit union MF Prisma. Subsequently, she applied for a digital loan with the same institution through their website in hopes of growing her business, “Avila Gourmet.” Currently, she is finishing paying back her third loan with the institution and considering requesting a fourth loan to continue to grow her business according to her business plan.


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*

  • 557 survivors of gender-based violence supported
    • 60% Venezuelan
    • 96% women

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, 2022

Verónica Chicaiza

“I would say to other women that first we have to learn to love ourselves and to value ourselves; we have to begin there. And then move forward because we can do anything in life. And we have to always remember these words that I am never going to forget: we are not alone.”

Verónica Chicaiza, a 33-year-old mother of three daughters from Quito, is an entrepreneur with a business called Mika and Ali Sports. After Verónica received psychological support for survivors of GBV offered by EIP, in partnership with Centro Tres Manuelas del Patronato in Quito, the project psychologist recommended that she become an entrepreneur and participate in one of the small business development programs offered by EIP. Verónica successfully completed the course and received seed capital to start her business.


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