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Keys for Success

By: UNHCR Costa Rica



Doña Blanca is a Colombian refugee who has been in the country for 12 years. She and her husband have tried many times to undertake an economic activity that will generate enough income to live a dignified life in Costa Rica. ­They also overcome many difficulties to achieve stability in their lives. Before joining the Graduation Model, Doña Blanca used to informally sell Colombian meals; however, this informal activity generated many problems, both legal and emotional. Doña Blanca was given the opportunity to start a locksmith business, paying only a monthly rental and a business tax. For this reason, the National University referred her to the course “Start Your Business” conducted within the framework of the Graduation Model. In this course, Doña Blanca was able to prove that their project is profitable, which is why she was supported with seed capital for the purchase of a new key making machine.

Th­is activity has enabled Doña Blanca and her husband to cover all their expenses and operate the business. Th­ey have therefore not required any further financial support or assistance from the project. Doña Blanca is one of the 88 participants who entered the Graduation Model that year and has an interest in developing her own economic activity or self-employment. In order to do so, Dona Blanca and 55 other participants were trained to develop and organize their business idea in order to have access to seed capital provided by the project.


…informal activity generated many problems, both legal and emotional

Doña, Costa Rica

The delivery process of the seed capital began once the participants completed their training processes with the National University and delivered a document with the profile of the project they want to undertake. Subsequently, a committee composed of representatives from UNHCR and ACAI Rights House determined the amount allocated to each beneficiary according to their type of project, as well as their social and economic conditions. On average, each person receives $500 worth of seed capital to invest in what is most urgently required such as the purchase of any machinery, equipment or raw materials.

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