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Stories from the field

Jeronimo*, one of the Venezuelans who recently expanded his business thanks to seed capital.

Debora Flaminia DRAGHI MANOEL in Colombia

Productive units belonging to refugees are fomented in Colombia through seed capital

In 2019, Jeronimo came to Colombia with his wife and their two children due to the crisis in Venezuela and the shortage of food and medicine. The family is one of the 116 participants of the Graduation Approach, and for six months they received financial support. By the end of the support, Jeronimo was granted seed capital to his business, which became the main income resource in the family.

He has a small business that sells fast food, empanadas, a type of fried turnover filled with savory ingredients. Before the grant of financial support, Jeronimo and his family had a difficult time to cope with their living, being under the poverty line. Afterwards, he felt more empowered to open his business, which works mainly from Thursday to Sunday, when there is more movement. Now, he can provide economic support for his entire family, and he can save money to cope with an emergency or an extra expense.

The Graduation Approach, a holistic process implemented in Colombia for the most vulnerable refugees, was a pilot project developed in 2019 with 116 families, which has included 535 people. During this process, people receive support for their expenses and can dedicate themselves to skills training, and therefore, enhance their capabilities. Without that support, many of them would probably be struggling to pay their bills by the end of the month, or even buying food would be difficult. One of the criteria to select the most vulnerable families is checking if they eat three times a day in a balanced manner.

The participants of the project either have documents (Special permit) to live in Colombia, or they are in an irregular way in the country. For those with documents, incidence with the private sector is done in order to bring awareness about hiring refugees. For those without regular documentation, the idea is to strengthen their entrepreneurship skills. Back in 2019, 32 productive units were fomented through seed capital. With the investment done, these productive units are receiving a follow up, along with a business plan, so they are better prepared to manage their businesses and be self-reliant.

In the picture, it is possible to see the visit to Jeronimo*, who recently got his Special Permit. 

As an EUAidV deployee at UNHCR Colombia at the livelihoods sector, I support the unit and other colleagues by fomenting labor inclusion and economic integration of IDPs and refugees, such as Jeronimo´s history. 


*name changed for protection reasons