New Survey Results Show Grameen Refugee Programs Are Gaining Traction

Posted on 08/18/2022

While you might think of refugee camps as temporary–a place to stay for a short time until you obtain citizenship in your new country, or return home–for many refugees, living in these areas has no set end date. Many families, fleeing from their war-torn homeland, stay in refugee settlements for an average of about seven years.

So while refugees often receive basic provisions from their host countries–and Uganda is notably one of the most hospitable countries for refugees–it’s clear that subsistence-level living isn’t enough: They need a steady, reliable source of income, and ways to save and access the money they earn.

While Grameen Foundation cannot fix the root causes—such as climate change-related natural disasters or ongoing war—we can help refugees build economies and be successful in their new homes.

[Grameen Foundation conducts locally led, on-the-ground research to make sure our refugee finance projects are tailored to the needs of the communities we serve. We especially focus on the gender and market dynamics at play in a given area. Here’s a five-minute overview of our analysis in the Ugandan refugee camps in which we’re currently working.]

For several years now, Grameen has been working on several refugee finance projects in Uganda. We train people in these camps to start Community Agent businesses, help groups of women form savings groups so they can access loans and safely store their earnings, and make sure people who receive loans have the business training they need to become successful microentrepreneurs.

We surveyed participants of one of those programs. Here’s what we found:

  • Grameen Community Agents working to deliver financial access to their settlement neighbors have completed more than 112,000 transactions for nearly 30,000 customers since November 2021. Each Agent can serve 19-25 customers a day.
  • Our Agents, who are mostly women and youth, not only help their refugee communities achieve financial inclusion, but they also benefit themselves by becoming microentrepreneurs and earning income to help their families. In our survey, Agents reported earning about 29% more than the average income in northern Uganda.
  • All of the Agents we surveyed said they plan to keep operating their mobile money businesses well into the future.

But what’s perhaps the most exciting finding is that Grameen Community Agents are seeing benefits that extend beyond income: 97% reported that they’re learning new skills, and nearly two-thirds said that they’re gaining more respect within their community.

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