As the Ivorian refugee program in Liberia continues to gravitate towards local integration, AIRD since August 2018 has been implementing the Livelihood and Social Economic Empowerment Project for UNHCR. This is in a bid to build the refugees’ capacities to attain self-reliance through sustainable development, while also strengthening co-existence with Liberian host communities. Over 300 Ivorian refugee households across the three refugee settlements (Bahn, Nimba County, PTP in Grand Gedeh County and Little Wlebo in Maryland County) have benefitted from the project with the majority of them realizing self-reliance and self-sufficiency through the coaching and mentorship of AIRD Livelihood staff.

Many refugees crossing the border for safety during civil crisis often come with skills already acquired in their countries of origin. Because of the exigent manner in which they leave their homes they, for the most part, come with absolutely nothing except the hope to survive.

This is Beatrice’s story.

Beatrice Tarwulay’s experience is a classic example of entering her asylum country with nothing except her children and hopes to stay alive. In 2010, Beatrice and her children crossed the border from Cote D’Ivoire into Liberia’s PTP camp for refugees in Grand Gedeh County. She already had some business ideas learned from her country of origin. She was looking for the opportunity to find a livelihood for her children. As a single mother with a dream of becoming a cross border international trader, she began by peddling cold water in the refugee camp with an investment of only LRD 100.00 (0.50 USD)- an almost negligible amount with which to start a business anywhere. Being a determined and promising business minded person, she changed her business into selling charcoal and fufu (a local Liberian food produced from cassava). This was intended to generate a reasonable income to sustain her family.

In October 2019, Beatrice Tarwulay participated in the small business management training organized by the AIRD/UNHCR Livelihood Team which is intended to provide insight into establishing and managing a small business. Beatrice became a beneficiary of the Livelihood and Social Economic Empowerment Project whose goal is to build self-reliance and improved livelihoods for refugees opting for local integration in Liberia. The project is funded by UNHCR and implemented by AIRD as a partner.

The amount of 900 USD was Beatrice’s livelihood cash support entitlement which is based on her family size. The cash is provided in two installments with a decision to provide the second installment on the premise of satisfactory performance in the business.

Weekly Income and Savings:
Beatrice already had basic knowledge in business. Attending the AIRD small business training boosted her skills and empowerment. Understanding the advantage of business location and competition which she learned in the training, Beatrice invested the amount in her newly established business in the Zwedru general market where she sells fashion clothes for both women and children. With the suitable location of her business, her weekly income has moved up to LRD 18,500.00 (94 USD) while her savings is LRD 5,000.00(25 USD) weekly. Beatrice as a refugee is now smoothly sailing to her local integration in Liberia because she is now earning more than the average Liberian with monthly income in government.

Beatrice intends to establish another branch of her business and employ one person to assist her in the management efforts. The Livelihood beneficiary has succeeded in raising the amount of 1,800 USD cash and still has goods valued at 1,200 USD.

Beatrice Tarwulay is nearing the achievement of her dream of becoming a cross border trader, something which she attributes to the small business training and the coaching of her AIRD business mentors.