Living within a refugee camp increases the risks of boredom, societal exclusion, financial losses, as well as protection related issues, such as abuse and human trafficking. The remote location of Ritsona camp could further increase the risks mentioned here. This is likely to affect vulnerable persons and/or groups the most and there is a clear need to focus on such issues and to reduce the protection risks. With this in mind we decided to develop a social enterprise program with an experienced partner.
Thistle Farms is an American non-profit, focusing on empowerment through employment for women, including survivors of trafficking. They recognise the risks that living in a refugee camp can pose, and therefore, wish to create an opportunity for the women to create a safe and a financially profitable space. I AM YOU is a non-profit organisation that believes in the empowerment of all refugees, through developing skills that will equip them for an easier integration process. I AM YOU believe in the economic empowerment of a female workforce. Ergo, both organisations ethos and approach are committed to delivering a social enterprise for the female refugee population in Ritsona.
Through providing opportunities and a safe space for female residents to use their skills through social enterprise, the women gain the opportunity to come out of the limbo, make an income, and increase societal inclusion for the camp community as a whole. The items produced within the project are sold to consumers, and the profit is reinvested towards the women themselves, the production, and the community they reside in. Additionally, awareness is spread through marketing and selling the produced mats in the USA. The program aims to become self-funded through the sales of the products.