Bridging Poverty Graduation and Market Systems Development

A Sustainable Solution to Economic Inclusion in Protracted Displacement Settings

A few people selling fruit and sundries.
DREAMS participants pose for a photo at their thriving business enterprise that was started with the seed capital they received after undergoing the Poverty Graduation training.
June 20, 2024

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The Delivering Resilient Enterprises and Market Systems (DREAMS)  for refugees program provides an innovative solution to drive refugee self-reliance and promote durable solutions in contexts of protracted displacement and humanitarian need. Working in Uganda, Ethiopia, and Tanzania – together home to nearly 10% of the world’s refugee population – DREAMS supports the economic inclusion of 150,000 refugees, fostering resilience, dignity, and confidence in the future.

Since 2021, the program has integrated two evidence-based approaches to economic inclusion in fragile contexts to maximize reach and sustained impact: poverty graduation and market systems development (MSD). Graduation activities provide the capital and skills to support refugees as they establish new businesses and livelihoods, while MSD creates relationships with private sector actors and increases their ability and incentive to provide technical support, inputs, and sales avenues to economically marginalized populations over the long-term. DREAMS is delivered by Mercy Corps and Village Enterprise.

The Bridging Poverty Graduation and Market Systems Development brief showcases DREAMS' innovative approach to refugee self-reliance and durable solutions, highlighting evidence in key areas:

  1. Improved livelihoods for vulnerable households
  2. Enhanced poverty graduation through Market Systems Development
  3. Strengthened private sector partnerships and market engagement
  4. Gender and social inclusion
  5. Sustainable market systems for graduate businesses

DREAMS will ultimately assess its impact through a rigorous experimental impact evaluation, conducted by IDinsight, with preliminary results in June 2025. Dive into the report to uncover valuable lessons and recommendations that can drive meaningful change.