Financial Inclusion in Refugee Economies

An essay by Kim Wilson and Roxanne Krystalli. Financial inclusion as a term and topic has become popular in humanitarian settings. A mounting global refugee crisis has brought financial access into the focus of donors and practitioners. In this paper, we ask questions that concern both donors and practitioners: Is digital, formal finance – at the heart of most financial inclusion strategies – suited to the needs of refugees, migrants, and displaced populations? Must financial inclusion approaches be tailored for maximum relevance in contexts of protracted displacement or resettlement?

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Financial Journeys in Greece, Turkey and Jordan

In this video, Kim Wilson and Roxanne Krystalli discuss their research exploring the formal and informal financial systems used by refugees in Greece, Turkey and Jordan.

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The Financial Journey of Refugees: Evidence from Greece, Jordan, and Turkey

A full report, executive summary, and a compendium of field notes, by Kim Wilson and Roxanne Krystalli. The Financial Journeys of Refugees investigates what money and financial transactions can reveal about the journeys and experiences of forced migration. We examine money as a key node of the displacement experience: fueling transactions among formal and informal actors along the way; determining livelihood options; shaping or restructuring kinship networks; and coloring risks, vulnerabilities, or protective forces available to refugees. Our inquiry highlights these transactions and the power dynamics that unfold among refugees as well as between refugees and formal or informal authorities.

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Financial Integration of Refugees in Dallas, Texas

By Julie Zollmann, Airokhsh Faiz-Qaisary, Kenza Ben-Azouz, Kim Wilson, and Radha Rajkotia. Refugees resettled in the United States are typically supported quite closely early in their transition as support agencies help them settle into new homes, open bank accounts, get their first jobs, and register their children in school. Agencies monitor whether refugees are “self-sufficient,” meaning that their incomes cover their most essential expenses as quickly as possible. However, little is known about the next stage of refugees’ financial and economic transitions, once refugees are no longer interacting regularly with resettlement agencies. In July 2018, we interviewed 29 refugees who had been resettled two to three years earlier to understand the phases of their financial transition and identify possible opportunities to accelerate refugees’ financial gains.

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“I’m the Everything”: The Overlooked Heroism of Refugee Youth in the United States

By Julie Zollmann. Nine voluntary agencies have the official responsibility for resettling refugees into communities throughout the United States. They find their clients new housing, schools, and jobs. They help them get social security numbers and open bank accounts. They play an indispensable role in helping refugees settle into their new homes. But the work of integration, of truly building a life in a new country with a new language, new transportation system, new labor market, and a whole new set of social norms is a much bigger job, one that in many families is being done stoically, even heroically, by young refugees in their teens and early twenties.

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Language Isolation on the Migrant Trail

By Charlie Bentley, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. I connected to most migrants I interviewed using the same first casual topic: “I’m struggling to get around without Spanish. What about you?” Despite having the help of two Spanish-speaking colleagues, I still found that traveling through Colombia without Spanish language skills was an immense challenge.

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In Adjusting to New Labor Markets, Migrants Draw on Past Experience and Retain a Strong Sense of Pride in Being Able to Contribute

By Conor Sanchez, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. Popular notions of migrants as unskilled or uneducated laborers, while sometimes true, are often false. Their jobs back home may not have always ensured adequate income, a factor that could have played a role in their decision to migrate, but they often required some technical knowledge or training. Our subjects had worked as photographers, teachers, accountants, sociologists, and business owners. Some were property owners, tending to farms and livestock or selling various kinds of merchandise out of their home. In many of the interviews, it also became apparent that these jobs had clearly formed an unshakeable part of their identity.

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Migrants Hold onto Their Religious Identities for Emotional Support and to Build Networks Crucial to Their Journeys

By Lea Abi Zeid Daou and Nidhisha Philip, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. Writings on why religion is of significance to individual migrants have explored themes of religion as a reason for migration, religion as a means of sustenance in difficult circumstances, religion as an identity marker in new socio-cultural contexts, and religion as a source of reconciliation and healing. In this essay, we explore some of these same themes, basing our insights on interviews with trans-continental migrants traveling through Costa Rica and bound for the north.

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What Can Hotels Teach Us about Smuggling?

By Maria Teresa Nagel, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. There is limited research describing the smuggling industry and its actors, particularly in Central America. Our study hopes to address this knowledge gap by disclosing how human smugglers lodge their clients and the role hotels play in the smuggling ecosystem.

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The Other Migration: The Financial Journeys of Asians and Africans Traveling Through the Americas

By Kim Wilson et al.

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