Integration and livelihoods for young people living in Ecuador

Improve local inclusion and integration opportunities, develop livelihood alternatives and provide protection spaces in Ecuador.
Local Integration

Integration and livelihoods for young people living in Ecuador

Improve local inclusion and integration opportunities, develop livelihood alternatives and provide protection spaces in Ecuador.

The project in brief

Implemented by

Fundación de las Américas (FUDELA)

UNHCR Ecuador

UN Global Compact Ecuador




The project began in 2015. Fudela started as a local partner of UNCHR. Since 2017, it became a national partner in 6 provinces. In 2017 FUDELA was elected as a UNHCR National Partner to implement the project in 6 provinces for the period of 2018-2019. We expect to renew the project again for 2020.

Project aims 

This project seeks to improve local inclusion and integration opportunities, develop livelihood alternatives and provide protection spaces for adolescents and young people from the refugee population and local population, in the provinces of Esmeraldas, Carchi, Sucumbíos, Imbabura, Pichincha and Santo Domingo, through innovative methodologies and training processes, which reinforce personal abilities, life skills and develop technical and labour skills, to facilitate their social, cultural, economic and educational inclusion.

Fudela uses innovative methodologies, as football/sport for development and bases the work in an integral human development.


To date, this project has served to more than 6.700 people, besides refugees and local population. During 2019, the project attends to 3.500 kids, youth and adults.

Resources used 

Sheet showing financial resources for the project.

Main activities of the Good Practice

This project has three components:

1) The first component “Community Champions” seeks to keep children and young people out of the spaces of risk in which they may be trapped and insert them into sports –as a tool for social transformation- and inclusion spaces where they can learn about values that will then serve to build their own future. The football court marks a clear analogy with life: it is the space where to identify challenges and teach how to overcome them. Sport allows working with values while promoting a positive use of free time for children and young people who are in a situation of vulnerability, exclusion and seeks to support in the reconstruction of their resilience and life plans. The correct use of leisure time is an important way to promote integration, to identify risks factors and to form them. FUDELA conceives the football field as a learning space for girls, boys, teenagers and adults. We facilitate processes that strengthen self-esteem and key social values like respect and discipline. Through our programs, we stimulate participants to “score goals” in their personal lives - putting into practice core values and life competences, and becoming agents of change in their neighborhoods, communities and schools. Football and recreational activities help promote positive attitudes and remove young people from high-risk situations and are used with class-room and sport fields approach. Main topics covered include life skills and core values such as respect, discipline, self-knowledge, entrepreneurship, financial education, etc.

2) The second component is: “To win!”,which is a youth employability program. It consists of 4 different stages: training of skills and competences for life and the working world; technical training according to market demand; internships (practical activities); and monitoring.

3) The project is complemented by a third component entailing advocacy efforts with public and private sector actors to ensure the sustainability of these integration processes. In the last component, UN Global Compact (private sector network) in Ecuador has an important role, considering that private sector has to be a strategic partner.


  • Local Governments (GADs)
  • National Government (Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Social Inclusion)
  • Universities (Universidad de San Francisco en Quito –USFQ, Instituto Superior Tecnológico Crecermas –ISTEC, among others)
  • Global Compact Network in Ecuador
  • Private Sector (such as Oriente Seguros)
  • Streetfootballworld (Common Goal)

Challenges and how they were overcome


  • Strong xenophobia and discrimination against Venezuelans, especially for their economic inclusion
  • Growing insecurity situation in the country, specifically in the border area with Colombia
  • Difficulties in measuring the impact of the project

How they were overcome

  • Boost advocacy activities and participation to national working groups focused on the inclusion of people in human mobility to state’s programmes, economic, social and cultural initiatives.
  • Boost coordination with local authorities in order to gain their trust and be informed about local regular and irregular movements and/or activities.
  • Dissemination of PoC’s life stories through public media (such as RADIO programme) and sports events (Russia 2018 WorldCup)

Results of the Good Practice 

  • Young people in a human mobility context and local community in a situation of vulnerability gain knowledge and skills so that they can improve their employability opportunities and/or study conditions, as well as soft skills, and guarantee integral human development. More than 70% of the participants with positive inclusion.
  • Local integration and awareness processes, breaking many of the existing stereotypes, and generating a healthy and peaceful coexistence.
  • A good practice-model adapted by partners from private sector and academy, with high level of support and cooperation.
  • Strong cooperation and involvement of local authorities has led to increased ownership and sustainability of interventions: participants are given the opportunity to be leaders of future interventions.

How the project meets the GCR Objectives

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

Ecuador is Latin America’s largest refugee hosting country, having recognized 68,203 by August 2019, almost all of them, displaced by violence in neighbouring Colombia. As for asylum seekers, 69.91% are of Colombian nationality, the rest come from countries such as Venezuela, 26.27%; Syria 0.80%; Yemen 0.66%; Iran 0.23%; Congo-DRC 0.22; Nigeria 0.18%; Turkey 0.18%; Afghanistan 0.13% and 1.46%, from other countries.

Since 2016, there has been an important arrival of Venezuelan population to Ecuador. According to official data from the Ministry of Interior, 954,863 Venezuelans entered the country in the period January - October 2018, compared to 102,369 in 2016. Venezuelans constitute the second largest nationality of asylum seekers in the country. From the work of FUDELA on the northern border, we can observe that the Venezuelan population that entered Ecuador initially was constituted mostly of young men and women alone, in search of temporary work that would allow them to gather economic resources, and continue to countries in the South, such as Chile and Peru. However, to date there is evidence of the presence of families and a significant number of children, older adults and pregnant women, who seek greater stability in Ecuador, mainly in cities such as Quito, Manta and Guayaquil.

One of the most important needs of refugees is the social and economic integration. This good practice meets the objective to “Enhance refugee self-reliance” of the Global Compact on Refugees. It works on the social, economic and cultural inclusion of young refugees in Ecuador, providing tools to facilitate their access to livelihoods and enable their formal insertion into the Ecuadorian economy through self-employment, formal employment and other initiatives contemplated by the Law of Popular and Solidarity Economy, taking into account the legal framework on child labor, understanding the ages of the population served.

The model proposed by FUDELA involves strategic factors: improvement of livelihoods through a human and practical process which motivates participants and develops resilience and technical skills; and, advocacy with key actors in order to engage private sector (companies, chambers of industry, commerce, companies), Academy (universities) to enable and facilitate conditions to improve livelihoods (decent work, education opportunities).

Next steps 

  • Ecuador's economy is increasingly complicated and labor demand is decreasing. The trainings that are being given are aligned with market demand and have a direct relationship with the business market. We expect to further the alliances with the private sector (networks, unions, companies), to be able to connect candidates with internships. Additional make an articulation with public and private banks for access to financial services.
  • There is currently a particular environment and context in relation to people in human mobility, which generates resistance and xenophobia situations. FUDELA manages methodologies where they work to raise awareness in schools, in programs. It is necessary to continue working with a strategy to get closer to the community, to work with government sectors (national or local) to generate public policies.


Submitted by: 

Verónica Escobar, Executive Director, FUDELA

Maybritt Rasmussen, National Program Officer, UNHCR