Economic Inclusion Project
Connecting Venezuelan Migrants and Low-income Locals to Financial Services, Employment and Entrepreneurship
June 2020 - June 2023
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.
The UN International Office of Migration estimates that five million individuals have migrated from Venezuela, including an estimated 861,000 to Peru and 366,600 to Ecuador. 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, the countries must 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. Starting in June 2020, the three-year Economic Inclusion Project aims to support 100,000 Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Peru and Ecuador achieve socio-economic security.
To reach its goal, the Economic Inclusion Project will adapt and convene entrepreneurship (Objective 1) and employment (Objective 2) programs targeted at migrants and refugees considered above the level of immediate vulnerability. WOCCU will also work with its trusted network of credit union, NGO, and private sector partners to extend appropriate financial products and services to vulnerable Venezuelans and local populations (Objective 3).
Objective 1: Assisting New and Existing Entrepreneurs
Through this objective, the Economic Inclusion Project will work with 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.
Objective 2: Facilitating Access to Employment
Through this objective, the Economic Inclusion Project will work with private employers to expand their recruitment efforts to include highly qualified Venezuelan migrants. The Project will also work to train skilled migrants to provide them with the tools they need to meet the demand of the Peruvian and Ecuadorian job market. By the end of the project, we expect that 2,500 individuals will access new employment opportunities leading to more stable incomes.
Objective 3: Increasing Access to Financial Services
Through this objective, the Economic Inclusion Project will work to support credit unions and other financial institutions develop products and services that meet the needs of Venezuelan migrants and their host communities. To prepare Venezuelan migrants and local communities for financial services, the Economic Inclusion Project will implement WOCCU’s proven financial literacy training, which aims to improve recipients’ knowledge of savings, credit and insurance products. By the end of the project, we expect that over 100,000 individuals will have access to new financial services.
Moving Beyond Humanitarian Assistance
The Economic Inclusion Project will support the UNHCR and IOM’s ongoing socioeconomic and cultural integration efforts as well as USAID's long-standing commitment to support Venezuelan migrants and underserved populations in Peru and Ecuador. Current assistance efforts are primarily focused on providing humanitarian support to the most vulnerable. However, current humanitarian assistance does not include expanding access to financial education or financial services – both of which are recognized by the UNHCR, IOM, USAID and other partners as critical to a more sustainable and economic solution. The Economic Inclusion Project will act as a bridge between a humanitarian and development approach, setting the stage for a more robust and longer term economic response.
Credit Unions in Peru
- 438 total credit unions
- 2.1 million members (8% penetration)
- US $4.6 billion in assets
- 547 total credit unions
- 4.8 million members (43% penetration)
- US $14.3 billion in assets