Women-led livelihood training in crisis affected contexts
Submitted by: Marina Anselme, Chief Technical Officer, RET International
Email: [email protected]
Introduction to the project
Turkey (Mardin, Kilis and Çorum), Latin America (Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Mexico, Colombia)
RET engagement with crisis affected young women and women (refugees, IDPs, migrants and locals)
in the area of socio-economic empowerment started in 2012 in LAC countries and in 2018 in Turkey.
Depending the group of women; some of them are already independent, some still receive
technical support, which will last for 1-2 years more. In Turkey, the project will continue until 2021
RET provides a holistic socio-economic empowerment training and technical support to refugee and local women in several countries.
Women are disproportionately affected in times of disasters and conflicts. The Colombian domestic conflict (over 9million of people of concern, the majority being IDPs), followed by the Venezuelan situation (over 4 million refugees and migrants), and the extreme violence that stalks the countries of the Central American triangle have caused – and continue causing - massive internal and external forced displacement in the Americas. Equally dramatic is the destiny of most of the Syrian who have fled the country since 2011 (over 5.6 million.) mainly to Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq.
Displaced women of all ages experience acts of violence and threats, and very often they are left alone with their children to look for survival strategies. They face regular challenges to access health (including SRH and MPS), protection, education and employment services, which exacerbate their levels of vulnerability. In addition, very often refugee women are settle in areas where local women are facing the same kind of risks and barriers to fulfil their rights. Moreover, women are less likely to participate in the labour market than men around the world. However, if they could benefit from safe spaces and social, economic and educational services, both refugee and host community women hold the key to turning crises into opportunities so as to create a better future for themselves, their families and their communities.
To strengthen the resilience and self-reliance of vulnerable refugee and host community women and their families, through a holistic approach on livelihoods training that leads to socio-economic empowerment, social cohesion and sustainable development.
Main activities of the Good Practice
With the purpose of responding to the socioeconomic needs of both refugee and host community young women and women, RET has been providing socio-economic empowerment training and technical support to refugee and local women in several countries. The methodology applied differs depending on the context, the legal restrictions to work, the cultural and social norms, the age and the profile of concerned women. However, some key principles and programme components are core to each of RET intervention: Using a gender and conflict-sensitive holistic approach, RET provides a combination of technical training workshops coupled with individual mentoring and follow up approach. The training includes Entrepreneurship, Social Entrepreneurship, Business Opportunities, Marketing and Product Design Sessions for both, refugees and local women. Additionally, the programme provides awareness raising sessions on SGBV and SRH issues after which women can also access to individual counselling, psychosocial support, and when needed referrals mechanism. Finally, they are also exposed to cultural and social activities.
It is worth saying that based on the motivation and engagement of a group of Syrian and Turkey women, RET launched a commercial enterprise and a patented brand named “Leap Natural” as a social entrepreneurship model (50% refugee women and 50% Turkish women). Through this model, RET brings natural, local and sustainable products produced by refugee and local women into the marketplace in Turkey. This model is sustainable, has increased refugee and local women’s selfreliance and resilience and eases the pressure on the host country since women participants’ employability profiles and participation to workforce have increased and income generation prospects are improved. By doing so, this model of intervention is contributing to enhancing refugees’ self-reliance and easing pressure on host countries with regard to assistance to refugee populations, as stated in the GCF.
- LeapNatural – Local Business
- Republic of Turkey Ministry of National Education, Public Education Centers in Mardin, Kilis and Çorum
- Kilis Municipality, Mardin Governorate, Turkish Development Agency (İŞKUR)
- Diamante Azul – Women led group – Costa Rica
- Comunidad Practica – Panama
- Las mujeres y la chocolateria - Venezuela
Challenges and how they were overcome
- Socio-emotional instability of women
- Need of child-caring services
- Likelihood of women’ mobility because of the nature of their status in the host country
- Competitiveness of the markets
- Diversity of existing providers
- Lack of sufficient available technical staff in remote areas
How challenges were overcome:
- The holistic aspect of RET intervention has allowed to address different dimensions of a woman’s’ life. As such, the programme is not only about training on specific job/business related skills, but also on SRH and GBV issues, child-care issues; it also provides access or referral to psychological and legal services when needed, and it also ensures individualised follow up to guarantee the continued engagement of concerned women.
- The types of vocational workshops are selected after a thorough needsassessment and feasibility study realized by RET to identify the demands of marketplace. As a result, refugee and host community women produce natural, sustainable, handmade and innovative products that are of top-notch quality with professional packaging and branding, which are high in demand locally and sometimes also globally (the case of Tukey programme).
- In LAC, most of the women’s livelihood initiatives have been solidified through the creation of women’ led groups, which allow them to conduct peer-to-peer training, and ensure internal support mechanisms to improve the quality of their products or services, while generating a sense of belonging that reinforce their self and collective confidence.
- In Turkey, in order to ensure the sustainability of its livelihood programme, RET founded a commercial enterprise and a patented brand “Leap Natural” with 150 refugee and host community women participants in its workshops as a social entrepreneurship model so that natural and sustainable products refugee and host community women produce can be offered professionally to both individual and private sector customers and strong marketing networks can be built. One of the most important dimensions for sustainability of livelihood programmes is to ensure sustainable marketing networks and strong partnerships. RET follows a comprehensive marketing strategy in order to efficiently link refugee and host community women participants to marketplace. As RET’s workshops are geographically located far from its target customers, RET has been focusing on social media marketing and ecommerce and send orders to all provinces in Turkey through cargo. As a result, RET has already a wide loyal customer base while also acquiring new customers every day. RET also regularly participates in numerous different festivals in İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir where most of its target customers reside to increase the visibility of its brand and boost the sales. Additionally, RET has been building partnerships with private sector, governmental bodies, academy, NGOs and INGOs, celebrities and social media influencers in Turkey for building new marketing networks and strengthening the existing ones.
- One of the most important dimensions for sustainability of livelihood programmes is to ensure sustainable marketing networks and strong partnerships. RET follows a comprehensive marketing strategy in order to efficiently link refugee and host community women participants to marketplace. As RET’s workshops are geographically located far from its target customers, RET has been focusing on social media marketing and ecommerce and send orders to all provinces in Turkey through cargo. As a result, RET has already a wide loyal customer base while also acquiring new customers every day. RET also regularly participates in numerous different festivals in İstanbul, Ankara and İzmir where most of its target customers reside to increase the visibility of its brand and boost the sales. Additionally, RET has been building partnerships with private sector, governmental bodies, academy, NGOs and INGOs, celebrities and social media influencers in Turkey for building new marketing networks and strengthening the existing ones.
Results of the Good Practice
- Increased refugee and vulnerable host community women’s socio-economic rights fulfillment through vocational training, preventive awareness raising on GBV and health related issues, and income generation technical support.
- Increased access to marketplaces for refugee and host community through the sustainable livelihood model RET created.
- Refugee women’ increased and improved income generation after one year of training, individualised coaching and technical support (between 20 to 50% higher).
- Reinforcement of Social cohesion between refugee and host community women and their families through the workshops specifically designed as safe places and venues for bridging the communication gap between refugee and host communities.
Concerning the Turkey entrepreneurial initiative, RET is planning to realize wholesale export of the products produced, to open “Leap Natural” shops in USA and Europe. RET will provide mentorship, marketing and product design assistance to other women entrepreneurs, start-ups and cooperatives under the umbrella of “Leap Natural” brand throughout Turkey. Additionally, RET plans to replicate the Turkey entrepreneurial model in other countries of operation, starting in LAC.