Supporting displaced Colombians through the World Refugee Fund

For the past half-century, Colombia has been in the middle of armed conflict. Waged mostly in rural areas and the remote towns and villages that dot the country’s borders, the war between government forces and armed opposition groups—led by Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, or FARC—has left thousands of fighters and civilians dead, and more than 7 million Colombian people displaced from their homes.

This latter population constitutes the second largest group of internally displaced people (IDPs) in a single country in the world, measuring only behind Syria in its magnitude. During the weeks surrounding World Refugee Day, when images of individuals crossing borders and encountering hardship fill the news, it’s important to also recognize those displaced yet unable to flee their countries. 

In Colombia, where the FARC conflict seems to be coming to a close, with a landmark peace agreement put into place in 2016, the population of displaced Colombians now face a new set of challenges to resettle and reestablish life after war. 

Kiva is playing its own part in this process by partnering with organizations inside Colombia, like Interactuar, to provide affordable loans for displaced persons, specifically targeting those in rural areas who need access to financial services to improve their quality of life.   

Kiva launched the World Refugee Fund in 2017 to mobilize our lenders and support displaced people as well as refugees and the communities hosting them. After lending over $3 million to refugees and IDPs in 2017, Kiva expects to deploy over $6 million in loans to these populations in 2018. In the past year, about 33% of loans made to refugees and displaced persons went to those in Colombia, the majority of whom were displaced by the country’s internal war. 

"Interactuar's work with IDPs in Colombia is essential," says Kiva Latin America Portfolio Manager, Manon Genouille. “Fifteen percent of Colombia's population is internally displaced and does not have access to financial services. Interactuar plays an important role in supporting IDPs restart their lives, rebuild or develop a new business and integrate into their new community."

The majority of displaced people in Colombia live in poverty—in fact, a 2013 report found that all displaced people in the country were living in poverty or extreme poverty.

Colombia’s GDP growth rate and overall economy are robust and thriving compared to those of its regional neighbors, but wealth is not distributed equally. Colombia’s economic prosperity has largely been generated by or linked to its illicit drug-production industry. 

Displaced persons earn only a fraction of the country’s official average annual income, which in 2018 was $11,100.  

Interactuar, however, is attempting to make access to finance more equitable for Colombia's displaced persons. A Kiva Field Partner since 2010, Interactuar is a nonprofit institution offering microfinance, practical vocational courses and business development services to rural and urban micro-entrepreneurs in low-income communities in the country. Since 1983, they have been working to create sustainable employment opportunities for communities affected by Colombia’s armed conflict, geographic exclusion and high unemployment. 

Interactuar's services target low-income microentrepreneurs to assist them in starting a business or growing the efficiency and competitiveness of their existing businesses.

You can contribute to the wellbeing of a displaced person in Colombia by helping fund an Interactuar loan on Kiva


About the author

Michael Light

Michael is a writer and editor originally from Dayton, Ohio. He currently serves as Kiva's Partnerships and Marketing Intern, as well as Features Editor at the Sprudge Media Network. He's worked previously for the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Climbing Magazine, Vice, Lucky Peach and McSweeney’s.