Sin Fronteras: Entrepreneurship for refugees and hosts in Ecuador
The project in brief
The program began in 2019 and is initially intended to end in 2022, depending on the amount of financing.
This program offers training, guidance and technical support to residents of Ecuador, refugees and migrants. After an initial screening process is conducted, participants engage in programs that suit their situation and current capacities.
Sin Fronteras is the result of a joint effort from the United Nations Agency for Refugees- UNHCR, the United Nations Development Program – UNDP, the Economic Development Agency of Quito – CONQUITO, the Inter-American Development Bank - BID, and the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Alliance – AEI.
It was created as a response to the growing concern on how to integrate mobility flows of people to Ecuador. These refugees were mainly coming from Venezuela and Colombia.
Sin Fronteras follows the guidelines from the UNCTAD/UNHCR/IOM “Policy Guide on Entrepreneurship for Migrants and Refugees”, recognizing that migrants and refugees have knowledge and skills. The latter having been developed in their country of origin as well as during their migratory process and which have the potential to contribute to the development of both home and host countries. Promoting labor inclusion and entrepreneurship among migrants and refugees can allow their knowledge and skills to positively impact the economy and entrepreneurship ecosystem, with benefits for both nationals and foreigners.
Sin Fronteras is an innovative, multi-partner program. The aim is to achieve the economic inclusion of refugees and migrants in Ecuador, as well as Ecuadorians in similar conditions. The program tries to maximize the positive effects of human mobility in economic growth and development.
“Sin Fronteras” has stablished the following governance scheme:
Main activities of the Good Practice
- People that fit the profile of job seekers will receive job orientation workshops and will be registered in an employment platform.
- Businesses wishing to support the Program sign up to become employers through the platform.
- This program is designed to provide support to people engaging in informal economic activities. Participants sign up for a 4-month training program, which includes entrepreneurial support (branding, packaging, prototype of the product and business model) for their businesses or livelihoods, as well as soft skills development. At the end of the training and support process, participants will have access to testing labs to improve the chances of positioning potential products in the local market.
- Seed capital and/or access to credit will also be made available.
- Beneficiaries that have entrepreneurial skills and an innovative business with potential to thrive, will receive an entrepreneurial pass, which will allow them to access services provided by AEI, such as incubation services, financial training and support, access to markets, access to credits and others.
- Alliance for Entrepreneurship and Innovation of Ecuador
- Corporation “La Favorita”
- United Nations Development Program – UNDP
- United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees - UNHCR
- Inter-American Development Bank - IADB
- The Agency of Economic Promotion of Quito - ConQuito
Challenges and how they were overcome
This project had an initial design phase that has taken longer than expected, because each partner has its own internal modalities and procedures. The first phase of the program was intended as a “commitment” process, here all the interested parties would ensure their financial commitment. This has taken longer than expected.
The first capacity building activities have been implemented directly by UNHCR and UNDP as pilots, and then a common implementing organization has been selected through a competitive process. It has been very important not to wait until having all the financial commitments ensured, but to start implementing as soon as possible to already have some good successful stories to showcase. The first 36 entrepreneurs have already finished their training with products ready to enter the market.
Results of the Good Practice
- The program has recently announced a commitment to place 1,920 refugees in full-time jobs in Ecuador by 2022, as well as placing several hundred more refugees in part-time jobs, and support 660 refugees to start their own businesses.
- By the end of the year 2019 more than 100 individuals will be supported with entrepreneurship training through the training Program “Programa de Empresas Solidarias Innovadoras”, from the Development Agency of Quito- CONQUITO, and 60 individuals will be supported through the EMPRETEC/UNCTAD Training Program.
Next steps will be to continue integrating more partners, especially from the private sector, to ensure that we reach the commitments, but also to be able to replicate the activities in other cities of Ecuador, with a big presence of refugees and host communities in similar vulnerable situations.
Maria Clara Martin, Representative UNHCR Ecuador
Maria Alicia Eguiguren, Durable Solutions Associate UNHCR Ecuador