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Pre-Microfinance Development Policy in Syrian Refugee Camps

Mona Siddique, Elif Selin Ekmen Ucev, Alper Rutbil, Osagie Obaseki
-Masters of Public Policy, UC Irvine-

Problem Definition

The Syrian Civil War is a humanitarian crisis resulting in

approximately 4.8 million Syrian refugees.
Syrian refugees are socially excluded groups facing social,
economic, and health risks, and this stalls their development
process; women are most vulnerable.
Collapsed infrastructure within Syria contributes to uncertainty;
when war ends, people will return to nothing.
More critically, 1.5 million Syrians have entered Lebanon, so
20% Lebanons population are Syrian Refugees.
Lebanon has a historical policy failure for refugee livelihood;
Palestinian refugees are living in Beiruts Shatila camp for over
60 years, and Syrians face the same policy failure.
No formal refugee camps provided by government; UNHCR
provides short-term relief, but informal camps have poverty and
social exclusion.
Syrian refugees took shelter in Shatila. Originally built for
3,000, Shatila now has 22,000 since the Syrian War.
No policy intervention for their socioeconomic development puts
them at risk of further poverty and social exclusion with
intergenerational effects.

Most Syrian refugees remain in camps for year after they first
arrive, and have no major improvement in living conditions.
Paying household (HH) expenses is challenge for Refugees; no
income earning opportunities available.
Avg HH income is $6 per day; female headed HHs are poorer.
Majority of Syrian refugee women are unemployed.
Poorest female refugees have low skill sets, with jobs in mostly
agriculture or services; most work is informal.
There is a need for entrepreneurship, better access to credit, and
financial services for refugee women.
Need for sewing, hairdressing, and agricultural equipment; assets
most demanded by Syrian women.
Need for joint ventures between Syrians and Lebanese women to
promote social cohesion.
Studies suggest that refugee income generating activities result in
positive contributions to the host economy.

Pre-microfinance in Shatila refugee settlement is a long-term
approach to refugee livelihoods and capacity building.
How it works: Overview Of 24 Month Pre-Microfinance Program
Health education: household sanitation training, importance of
vaccinations, and nutritional information.
Social awareness training: importance of childrens education, early
marriage concepts, local safety measures, and legal rights
Management training: financial services, budgeting, operations
Asset Transfer and Micro-Enterprise: economically profitable, easily
manageable, and socially acceptable business
o Consumption Support: basic needs support
o Social Cohesion Component: Syrian, Palestinian, and Lebanese
woman of the same SES are business partners
o Business Counseling: technical support and weekly check-ins

UNHCR will contract an established NGO MFI specializing in premicrofinance to implement the program.
MFIs have infrastructure and capital to administer this program
The MFI selects participants based on social mapping and wealth
ranking to find most vulnerable and disadvantaged women.
Oversight: UNHCR is provider as both off-site and on-site supervision.
o MFIs are able to implement such programs sustainably, considering
financial constraints. Capital and infrastructure are built into these
institutions, they serve as contractors.
Policy Instrument
o The policy instruments required in this innovation, the training and
asset transfer, are already built into the MFIs core competencies.
Political Will
o Camps are informal, no government involvement . NGO MFI and
UN collaboration, so no political support required from government.

AFTER 24 MONTHS: Participants join a Microfinance Institution (MFI)

Why it works: Evidence from Pre-Microfinance Programs

Successful in South Asia and Africa among the socially excluded;
resulted in positive socioeconomic and health outcomes
African refugees camps, overcome post-conflict SES problems.

The pre-microfinance program will be evaluated by UNHCR
Program evaluation would be at least a 3 year study
o Semi-annual surveys and in-depth interviews
o Baseline surveys before and after 24 months for comparisons.
Evaluation of Policy Indicators:
o Health education indicators: vaccinations for children, household
sanitation improvements, dietary diversity and nutrition.
o Social awareness indicators: children in school, early marriage
concepts, safety in local community, legal right awareness.
o Financial literacy and management training indicators: bank account
ownership, savings behavior, credit use, insurance, asset retention,
growth of assets, number of employees hired, break-even points, and
annual revenue of the enterprise.
Unintended Consequences:
There is still a risk of community backlash, but social cohesion
component works to mitigate this risk.
Cultural differences among business partners could impact the
enterprise negatively