Promoting the Economic Engagement of Refugees in Egypt


More than 184,765 refugees and asylum seekers are currently registered with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Egypt, including refugees from African countries that arrived years ago and Syrians who entered the country in recent years. UNHCR’s cash assistance and the World Food Programme’s food assistance can only reach a small part of the displaced population, making stable incomes essential for refugees to cover their basic needs.


Trickle Up is assisting UNHCR in Egypt to integrate the Graduation Approach into their existing projects for refugees in Cairo, Alexandria, and Damietta. UNHCR’s main expertise is providing refugees with health, housing, legal, and psychosocial support, but economic development is becoming more of a priority given the context. This pilot is the first time the Graduation Approach has been adapted to an urban context, serving the refugee population of these Egyptian cities.


Trickle Up and UNHCR are helping improve the economic prospects of refugees in urban areas and move them to self-reliance. Working with Syrian and African refugees, and the affected Egyptian host community, UNHCR seeks to link participants to either self-employment or wage employment and provide the necessary training, coaching, and links to other services to help ensure success and sustainability. Participant households were selected because they depend on cash assistance, have only one temporary source of income, or lack basic assets. This project also has a special focus on women and men at risk for sexual and gender-based violence.


Project Objectives

  • Build the capacity of UNHCR to integrate the Graduation Approach into its existing interventions with refugees in Egypt
  • Provide economic empowerment to refugees in urban areas and the affected Egyptian host community through the provision of soft skills, technical skills, business skills, and business coaching.

Project Data

To date, 1,878 participants have been reached.


In 2015, mid-term evaluations were conducted, consisting of a quantitative survey and focus group discussions with over 330 program participants and 120 non-participants. Key findings include:


  • The average income earned per person per month increased by approximately 18% in Cairo and 27% in Alexandria.
  • 68% and 69% of jobs placement have been achieved in Cairo and Alexandria, respectively
  • 78% of refugees in Cairo are on the self-employment track, and 97% of refugees in Alexandria have started a business with program support


More data will be provided as the project continues.

Cairo, Alexandria, and Damietta, Egypt

Start Date: 08/2013
End Date: Ongoing


Number of Participants: 5,000


Vulnerable Populations

Women, Urban, Refugees, People with Disabilities, Youth, Extreme Poor


Project Components


Stipend for Consumption Support, Asset Transfer, Coaching, Savings/Self-Help Groups (savings and credit services), Technical Livelihood Skills Training, Financial Literacy and Capability Training, Wage Employment, Links to Job Opportunities, Legal Services, Psychosocial Support, Healthcare Services

Our Partners

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is mandated by the United Nations to lead and coordinate international action for the worldwide protection of refugees and the resolution of refugee problems. UNHCR’s primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. Trickle Up and UNHCR have been partners since 2013.

Other Project Partners

Caritas, Plan International