Trees and fields

Building self-reliance; reducing aid dependency

With a total refugee population of around 3.25 million, East Africa hosts one of the highest levels of refugees in the world.

And the number continues to grow due to unrest and civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, and South Sudan. These refugees have a desire to work but very few opportunities to earn an income and rebuild their lives. Village Enterprise is responding by adapting our microenterprise graduation program for refugees. As refugees graduate from our program and become entrepreneurs with flourishing businesses, they gain hope, greater independence, reduced reliance on aid, and the ability to help their fellow refugees.

“Mercy Corps has had the pleasure of working with Village Enterprise during the Bridge project in West Nile, Uganda over the past year. During this project, Village Enterprise trained and mentored 438 refugees and host communities’ entrepreneurs to start 146 business groups. The organization’s effective and sustainable program contributed to an 11% increase in participants to be self-employed. Across the whole project, the average monthly income also increased by 46 among refugees!” Renee Van Woerden, Program Manager, Mercy Corps
Women with banana harvest

Delivering Resilient Enterprises and Market Systems for refugees (DREAMS)

The DREAMS program created by Village Enterprise in partnership with Mercy Corps will reach 150,000 of the most vulnerable refugees by integrating and layering two proven models – poverty graduation and market systems development – to ensure the poorest refugee households can improve their income and well-being significantly.  Our innovative and collaborative approach layers the two evidence-based models to achieve increased household income, savings, and assets; improved food security; and improved well-being for women, children, and men. Poverty graduation will provide the capital and skills to support refugees as they establish businesses. At the same time, market systems development will help build market access pathways to ensure those businesses can be successful. The project was recently awarded $8 million from an anonymous philanthropist and $2 million from the Sea Grape Foundation to scale DREAMS this year. To learn more, please read our recent blog post!

DREAMS Overview Video
Seamstress cutting cloth

Providing economic opportunities for refugees in Northern Uganda

Funded by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO) and in partnership with Mercy Corps, we equipped South Sudanese refugees and their host communities to start sustainable microenterprises in three refugee settlements in the West Nile of Northern Uganda: Bidi Bidi, Palorinya, and Rhino Camp. Refugees who completed the program gained not only income but hope, a sense of purpose, and a way to help others around them.

Who We Serve

Learn more about the other populations we serve

Who We Serve