The ongoing Syrian conflict has caused millions of refugees to flee into neighboring countries, including over 1.6 million to Lebanon and Jordan. As humanitarian assistance declines, refugees have sought to create sustainable livelihoods. Access to finance can help these households to improve their livelihoods, but financial institutions have avoided them due to a lack of information and concerns about their transient status.
Making Cents International has provided technical assistance to four microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Jordan and Lebanon to help them understand and serve the refugee market. Through qualitative research, Making Cents helped the MFIs to understand which refugee households could effectively borrow and repay loans. Afterwards, quantitative research enabled the effective demand to be calculated by region in both countries, indicating that over 10,000 borrowers existed in each market.
Equipped with this information, Making Cents then facilitated business case planning workshops for the MFIs, helping them to determine if there was a business rationale for serving refugees, considering their institution- specific operational priorities, capacity, and financial resources. As a result, two MFIs (one in Lebanon and one in Jordan) decided to serve the refugee market and are each currently reaching over 4,000 refugee households with small loans.