SMILES project
Sustainable Market Inclusive
Livelihood Pathways to Self-Reliance 

SMILES project is a five-year (November, 2022 – October, 2027), 25m euro initiative in Uganda funded by the IKEA Foundation.

The Sustainable Market Inclusive Livelihood Pathways to Self-Reliance (SMILES) project works with 14,000 households (extremely poor refugee and host community) comprising 70,000 individuals in Kyaka II and Kyangwali Refugee Settlements in Western Uganda with the aim of supporting them to become resilient.

The project delivers graduation model integrated with a Market System Development approach targeting women and youth and their household members. Key sectors include: livelihoods, agriculture, food security, protection, energy and environment.

Project activities


A regular, structured, group-based coaching with customized individual support.

Smiles, uganda

Consumption Support

Monthly cash stipend to households via their mobile money account for basic needs including food.

Core technical skills training Smiles project Uganda

Core technical skills training

Training in agronomy, savings, financial literacy, business management (selection, planning and management).

saving and loan group smiles project uganda

Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLA)

288 groups of 15-30 people who save together and take loans from those savings. The activities of the a group run in ‘cycles’ of 8-12 months after which the accumulated savings and profits are shared out among members accordingly.

FFBS Farmer school, smiles project Uganda

Farmer Field Business School (FFBS)

288 groups of people involved in the programme to learn the methods of agro-ecology through direct experience, and to promote community development. Topics of interest range from pest management to animal husbandry to organic farming.

assets transfer smiles project avsi uganda

Asset Transfer

Monetary disbursement to households for business start-up/expansion.

business coaching, asmiles project in Uganda

Business Coaching

Customized to specific needs of individual and group-based businesses.

a woman beneficiary of SMILE's project

Referral to critical services

Health, nutrition, education, protection and legal support.

linkage to the market, smiles project UGANDA

Linkage to markets

Input and output markets, financial services, energy solutions.

SMILES project approach

  • Graduation and Market Systems Development approach.
  • Apply the “Woman/Youth Plus household1” approach.
  • Target extremely poor, economically active (or potentially economically active) households.
  • Participatory community targeting strategy (participatory poverty-wealth ranking).
  • Operational research through a randomized control trial and routine monitoring.
  • Multi-sectoral approach (integrated and sequenced delivery).
  • Adherence to Uganda Government’s refugee response strategic policies (Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework).

Geographical Coverage

  • Kyaka II Refugee Settlement, Kyegegwa District, Uganda.
  • Kyangwali Refugee Settlement, Kikuube District, Uganda.

About the project

The project is implemented by AVSI Foundation in partnership with DAI Global LLC (DAI), Renewable Energy, Powering Agriculture and Rural Livelihoods Enhancement (REPARLE), Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), and Makerere University Kampala.