Urban Reintegration Initiative Launched for Colombian Ex-Combatants

Eighty ex-combatants living in Colombia's capital, Bogotá,
have received support to upgrade their small businesses as part of
an IOM-led initiative to reintegrate demobilized people living in
large urban areas.

The new reintegration model for ex-combatants in large cities
was presented this week by IOM, the United States Agency for
International Development (USAID) and Mayor's Office of

The new initiative is designed around three key premises.
Firstly it aims to build on what the beneficiaries already know how
to do, by supporting small business ventures that need about USD
1,500 per business, and providing specialized training to enable
the owners to become better qualified in their trades.

Secondly it aims to include the family in the training process,
as in the majority of the cases the spouse, siblings, parents
and/or children are helping the ex-combatant in setting up and
running the businesses.

And thirdly it aims to provide links to business and commercial
networks which commit to help the new entrepreneurs with marketing
and sales advice during the first few months to ensure the success
of their new ventures.

Some of the new businesses to participate in this new model
include maquilas (assembly plants), food and other shops, bakeries,
shoe and clothing manufacturing, craftsmen and artists.

Bogotá is home to an estimated 5,300 ex-combatants who
have been demobilized from illegal armed groups.

"Large cities pose specific and complex challenges for those who
are in the process of re-entering civilian life.  Lack of
education, capital and business knowledge make it even more
difficult for them to gain access to the labour market or the
formal economy in a metropolis such as Bogotá.  This is
why these types of initiatives are so important," says IOM Chief of
Mission in Colombia Marcelo Pisani.

Since 2006, IOM, with financial support from the United States
Agency for International Development (USAID), has been working with
the Colombian Government in the reintegration of more than 53,000
ex-combatants from armed groups throughout the country providing
psychosocial support, income generation projects, education and
vocational training.

For more information, please contact:

Jorge Gallo

IOM Bogota

Tel: +57 6397777

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