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?

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

The Ties that Bind (or Not): Social Networks Among Extra-Continental Migrants

By Heather Kunin, under the supervision of Kim Wilson. Social networks have long been recognized as playing a pivotal role within migration, with multiple studies examining, among other phenomena, the role of social networks in predicting the decision to migrate and choice of destination, as well as in impacting migrants’ chances for integration. Social network analysis (SNA) is a methodology for visualizing and interrogating relationships among actors and is highly applicable to a field where social networks are considered “one of the fundamentals of the migration process.” Until recently, this discipline has been woefully underutilized within migration studies, although this is beginning to change.

Read more

How to Achieve the American Dream on an Immigrant’s Income

By Jeffrey Ashe, Kim Wilson.
The American Dream—being able to earn a good living, buy a home, send children to school, and build a life in the United States regardless of social stature or place of birth—is an aspiration for most who immigrate to the United States. While new immigrants may be fleeing violence, poverty, and persecution—so called “push factors”—they are also pulled by the prospects of a better life for themselves and their children. Some immigrants arrive in the United States wealthy, educated, and fluent in English. These case studies focus on immigrants who may arrive with a few dollars in their pocket, struggle with English, and sometimes are without legal documents. Our research examines how immigrant households save up in groups to transform income that is irregular, uncertain, and low into regular, predictable, and meaningful sums of cash.

Read more

Financial Journey of Refugees in the Mediterranean

What can money reveal about the experience of migration? This video, created by Charlie Bentley, highlights the groundbreaking research of Kim Wilson and Roxani Krystalli, using finance as a lens to understand migration journeys throughout the Mediterranean.

Read more

Reflections on Conducting a Lean Research Field Study

By Sarah Carson, under the supervision of Kim Wilson.
Field research is a common and often powerful piece of post-graduate training in international affairs and development. But sending students to the field also comes with risks to both students and study participants. What happens when you send five students abroad to execute Lean Research on their own? What challenges might they encounter, and what innovative solutions could they develop? And what do they learn that could be applied to similar experiences in the future?

Read more

Gaps in Policies, Chasms for Refugees

By Devang Shah, under the supervision of Kim Wilson.
An open-door policy, free primary education, health care, monthly rations and cash. Sounds like a perfect policy recipe for integration of refugees with their local communities. However, for more than twenty years since Kebri Beyah camp was established, refugees living there are still financially unstable and far from integration. Why are the steps taken by various governmental and non-governmental organisations still proving ineffective? This essay attempts to answer this question by diving into the chasm between policy making and policy implementation for the case of the Somali region in Ethiopia. We will analyze which policies, programs, and initiatives have worked, which have not, and why.

Read more

What Lies Ahead? Navigating New Insecurities in Displacement

By Catherine Wanjala, under the supervision of Kim Wilson.
Uganda’s 1.4 million refugees have trekked into the country, fleeing violence and conflict in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Somalia, and other regional neighbors. They came to Uganda sometimes intentionally, sometimes merely following the crowd, but all looking for peace. Through in-depth interviews with 30 refugees in Kampala in August 2019, we found that many urban refugees have found only partial peace, continuing to confront insecurity in displacement. Their experiences and fears of violence are limiting their livelihoods opportunities, their interest in integration, and even their willingness to send their children to school.

Read more