AVSI and COOPI promote entrepreneurship for the economic and social integration of migrants and refugees in Ecuador

The INTEGRADOS project promotes economic and social integration in Ecuador through an entrepreneurial program for migrants and refugees by providing training, financial support and encouraging intercommunity integration.

AVSI in partnership with COOPI- International Cooperation, implement the Integrados project, which aims to promote economic and social integration in Ecuador by providing an entrepreneurship program for migrant, refugee, and host communities to improve their financial situation.

The Entrepreneurship Program is a project component that equips participants with tools to start and manage their businesses. Isabel Valarezo, COOPI's Income Generation Activities Specialist in Pichincha, explained that the program consists of two training phases, combining face-to-face and virtual classes to ensure the participation of entrepreneurs without neglecting their businesses or family responsibilities.

The main purpose of online classes is to allow participants to keep their businesses active while acquiring new skills and knowledge.

Isabel Valarezo, COOPI's Income Generation Activities Specialist

For Joycet Ontivero, a participant in the program, having a mixed mode of classes has been an incentive to enroll. She affirms that participating in the program has allowed her to balance her family and work responsibilities. She also highlighted the relevance of learning from the experience and knowledge shared by her peers, which has significantly contributed to the growth of her business.

The program is divided into two stages and covers various topics. The first stage focuses on recognizing the skills of entrepreneurs, reflecting on these skills with the participants, and helping them identify themselves as entrepreneurs. For Belkys Mogollón, this phase was crucial because it made her fall in love with her entrepreneurship, recognize herself as an entrepreneur, and develop a taste for what she does. "I deeply appreciate this because if you don't fall in love with what you do, you won't succeed," she mentioned. Additionally, participants conduct a SWOT analysis to break down their strengths and weaknesses on a personal and professional level to know where their entrepreneurship needs to grow. AVSI and COOPI consider linking personal and professional growth essential because they believe they go hand in hand.

The cycle concludes with follow-up visits that COOPI carries out with a support organization. The primary objective is to monitor the proper use of the materials and equipment that participants acquired through seed capital, provide support in commercial, financial, and formalization issues of entrepreneurship, and establish an appropriate path for them to take their ventures to the next level.

AVSI and COOPI believe entrepreneurship is the key to sustainable change and prosperity. Empowering individuals and communities, they help sow the seeds of opportunity and hope, enabling people to build a better life for themselves and their families.