Refugee access to finance via innovative credit solutions

by Amy McHugh


Our solution

The core objective of our solution is to promote the financial inclusion of refugees by supporting access to MSME loans. Refugees receive startup business loans which are guaranteed by a tailored credit guarantee fund. In a sequenced 'graduation out of poverty' program, refugees are supported to open a bank account/digital wallet, receive entrepreneurial training & incrementally increasing micro-loans. Blockchain technology establishes the identity of refugees & mitigates risk (flight, credit).

What's the business opportunity for host and refugee community

Once a refugee is considered to be 'financially included', has received training and built a credit history based on incrementally increasing micro-loans ($50-2000), they are partnered with an Angel Investor from the host community. They jointly make a business plan based on a 'do no harm' principle & receive a business loan from a participating credit guarantee fund. This benefits both refugees & host community, promoting financial inclusion, easing social tensions, and out-of-camp mobility.

How has it been implemented and what impact it had

A variation of this solution is currently being implemented as a pilot under the initiative of the UNHCR and the Swedish Development Agency (SIDA). The impact of this solution is the creation of sustainable livelihoods through enabling refugees access to finance via tailored, risk mitigating approaches coupled with the utilization financial technologies.

Our Skills and Experience

The two researchers have conducted a 4-month study investigating enhancing Syrian refugees access to finance in Lebanon and Jordan via tailored credit guarantee funds and aspects of FinTech, consisting of in-depth analysis and interviews with various experts. Currently, one researcher works for two credit guarantee funds operating in challenging environments, and the other has worked in international projects supporting startup incubators and MSME access to finance in fragile country contexts.