Over two million refugees are living in Lebanon and Jordan alone, so it was critical to highlight such a market segment and the regional initiatives that are focusing on this issue by presenting them during the “Regional Initiatives focusing on current and future displacement issues; from Refugees to Returnees” session during Sanabel’s 2017 Conference. The session started with a presentation by Mr. Timothy Nourse on the Syrian refugee crisis and how to respond to it. The presentation identified the three segments of refugees which are the stable households, developing households and vulnerable household, provided estimates of the market size in which there are approximately 14,000 to 20,000 households that are credit worth and interested in borrowing in Lebanon and there 13,000 potential clients in Jordan, and then it discussed the business case framework that was developed by CGAP for MFIs to consider.
The presentation was followed by a discussion between the moderator and representatives of FMF in Egypt and UNRWA who are serving refugees and displaced people in Syria. The discussion illustrated how these MFIs are serving such a market, what they are offering to refugees, the changes they have taken in the procedures and the challenges that are currently facing these institutions in expanding their services and products to more refugees.
Furthermore, the session elaborated on how investors can support MFIs in serving refugees by presenting the role of Sanad in mobilizing local NGOs and MFIs to work with refugees and the Kiva’s initiative on crowdfunding loans for refugees which basically enables refugee lending by bringing corporate and foundation matching funds to support lending to refugees and other displaced populations. Indeed, this session gave a complete overview of the Syrian refugee crisis and how can MFIs respond to it by investors support.