In Commerce, Returnee African Migrants Are Making Giant Strides

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In Ethiopia, Fuad Faris, a returnee migrant is the proud owner of a small kiosk. He was among 122 returnees who benefited from reintegration assistance supported by the Danish government that the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) is implementing in Sigmo.

In addition to his kiosk, Fuad recently purchased cattle fodder he will use on farmland he acquired. He hopes to earn even more money from this activity to provide for his family.

Fuad now says he earns a higher income than what he used to make before he decided to leave the country, which was a major push factor in his original decision to try to irregularly travel to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

After months in Yemen, Fuad however, returned to Ethiopia in 2018. He had spent his savings in a bid to reach the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in search of a well-paying job. His dreams were shattered after being intercepted in Yemen for irregularly crossing into the country.

“I left in search of money and a better life, but what I found on the way was quite the opposite”, Fuad, now in his early twenties, explained.

While he was relieved to return to Ethiopia after his ordeal in a foreign country, he had no idea how he would survive after settling in his hometown of Sigmo, in Oromia Regional State.

Another IOM beneficiary, Ahmed Jemal, who runs a shop a few blocks from Faud’s, states that he now has savings and is planning to transform his shop into one of the town’s biggest.

“I now tell many young people in my neighborhood that they should not despair and hope that life is any better on the other side. Life can be good here too if you work hard,” Ahmed said.

Depending on the availability of funding, IOM provides reintegration support to returnees based on their individual needs and interests. In Sigmo, the reintegration assistance has supported the establishment of vending kiosks, retail shops, and cattle fattening businesses.

With most of the shop owners have grown their stock since their business was initially set up last year, and with cattle fattening businesses now serving dairy farms, the success rate of all the reintegrated beneficiaries in Sigmo is high.

In 2019, IOM Ethiopia was able to provide reintegration assistance to 2,017 individuals from various countries. IOM’s reintegration efforts and livelihood support programmes are part of the organization’s effort to make communities more resilient to irregular migration by providing alternative livelihoods.

“We conduct assessments and consult with the returnees on how they are doing. So far, we have not witnessed any returnee who has had to close shop or re-migrated through irregular means. However, their success mostly depends on their dedication and hard work”, Abdulhakim Musa, a monitoring expert from the Ministry of Social Affairs in Sigmo, says of the returnees’ success.

According to this official, reintegration support and business skills training are very useful in allowing returnees to start successful enterprises.

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