Supporting host and refugee communities in Ethiopia to start and improve their businesses

From March to June 2021, the International Labour Organization (ILO), in partnership with UNHCR, international NGOs IRC and ZOA, regional and district jobs creation offices and district administration offices supported capacity-building workshops for over 200 micro-enterprise operators, nearly half of whom were women.

News | 02 July 2021
As part of the PROSPECTS Partnership Programme, providing development solutions to forced displacement in Ethiopia and seven other countries, the ILO launched a series of training workshops under the Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) programme in Keberbeyah, Jigjiga and Shedder in the Somali Region, and in the capital Addis Ababa targeting Eritrean urban refugees and host communities. These workshops focused on issues of critical relevance to refugee and host communities, including how to start up a new business, improve and strengthen existing micro and small businesses and supporting the marketability of products and services. Around 80 participants were refugees, and almost half of these were women.

The content of the training was built around the results of a needs assessment. This ensured that the training itself was as relevant and targeted as possible based on business support levels needed amongst host and refugee communities.

The workshops helped contribute to the formulation and detailed description of business ideas. They also supported participants in developing business feasibility plans, market assessments, operational set up of businesses and to understand the importance of customer identification and service. In this context, the training helped participants identify marketing practices that create customer loyalty, the importance of business promotion and strengthening marketing skills to build a positive image around their products and services. Other key business training included record-keeping, financial management and profit and loss calculation.

Participants were also interviewed by the Somali region mass media agency (SRTV) and were very open in sharing their impressions on the workshops. Some of them spoke about how the training would help them in strengthening and scaling up their existing businesses. Others mentioned how they now realised the importance of strong feasibility and market analysis in starting up new businesses. Of particular interest was the reference to the manner in which participants appreciated a forum in which host and refugee communities were brought together and how this would positively influence these two communities in Keberbeyah.

The training is useful and important to us. We learned techniques and tools to expand and scale up our existing businesses, including financial management, marketing and promotion, record-keeping, customer handling, and so many other things."

Training participant
Representatives from the Administrative for Refugee & Returnees Agency (ARRA) and the local jobs creation office in Keberbeyah welcomed the initiative as a positive and constructive example of the type of partnership envisioned in the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) for Ethiopia, which aims to support and ease pressure on host communities, while fostering peaceful coexistence and greater inclusion of refugees in national and local development plans.

ILO’s engagement in the forced displacement response in Jigjiga

With decent work at the core of it agenda, the ILO has been implementing a range of development and humanitarian projects in Jigjiga in the Somali Region. The focus on enterprise development was initiated in 2018 thanks to the generous support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to promote livelihoods for forcibly displaced persons and host communities. The ILO organised SIYB Training of Trainers (ToT) workshops at that time on Generate Your Business Idea (GYB), Start Your Business (SYB) and Improve Your Business (IYB). These activities involved NGOs and public service providers, including the University of Jigjiga, the Somali Microfinance Institute and the local Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges.

Building on the BMZ project, PROSPECTS developed a network of business development service (BDS) providers and supported the certification of 7 SIYB trainers in November 2020. The workshops subsequently held in Keberbeyah, Shedder, Jigjiga and Addis Ababa are a continuation of the enterprise development process.

Strengthening collaboration and partnership

Partnership and joint programming are at the heart of PROSPECTS’ strategy. The capacity-building activities being implemented are a result of this shared ambition. Partners, such as UNHCR, the IRC, local jobs creation offices and the district administration, were actively engaged in different aspects of the above activities. This collaboration was critical in awareness-raising, community mobilization, the selection of micro-enterprise operators, as well as the identification and selection of resource persons for the training.

The PROSPECTS partnership

The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the ILO, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank, together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Netherlands, have joined forces through partnership programme aimed at ‘improving prospects for host communities and forcibly displaced persons’. PROSPECTS as it is known aims to shift the paradigm from a humanitarian to a development approach in responding to forced displacement crises. It focuses on three key intervention pillars: education and training, employment, livelihoods and decent work, and protection, including social protection.

Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB)

Developed by the ILO, the SIYB approach is one of the world’s largest global business management training programmes. It helps small-scale entrepreneurs to start and grow their business as a strategy to create more and better employment for women and men. Since its inception, it has been implemented in over 130 countries across the globe. It provides Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), women, men and youth with new and improved management skills to run their business successfully, hence contributing to the creation of decent jobs and strengthening of local and national economies.

The SIYB programme has empowered over 15 million entrepreneurs, trained and certified over 60,000 trainers and over 300 Master Trainers worldwide. It is structured into four separate training packages designed to respond to the progressive stages of business development: Generate Your Business Idea (GYB), Start Your Business (SYB), Improve Your Business (IYB) and Expand Your Business (EYB). Learn more

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Ethiopia:Building the capacity of host and refuge communities through ILO Start & Improve Your Business (SIYB) tools