Completed projects

Income-generating Activities for Refugees, displaced and socially-disadvantaged Persons


Mon – 24  Income-generating activities for refugees, displaced and socially-disadvantaged persons


German Foreign Ministry


May 2003 :: € 100.000


Montenegro’s economy is for a number of reasons burdened by enormous problems. More than 40.000 people work in 350 loss-making state companies and 42.000 persons work in the inflated government sector. The total number of the workforce at the end of 1999 was 275.00; in October 2000 more than 80.000 persons were recorded as unemployed. The majority of the unemployed were women (60%). Some of the unemployed are at least partially problably engaged in the grey sector; however a study carried out in June 2000 (by OCHA) still puits the number of unemployed at 68.000. In view of the lack of economic progress one cannot assume a major improvement of of the situation since then.

Since the end of the war(s) in the Balkans and the return of the Kosovo-Albanians into the Kosovo some 14.000 refugees from Bosnia and Hercegowina and Croatia still live in Montenegro as well as 29.000 persons who have fled the Kosovo. Given the prevalent circumstances a return to Kosovo is not feasible. On ecan also assume that most of the refugees still living in Montenegro will never return to their places of origin. Therefore many of the displaced and refugees undertake efforts to integrate into the Montengrin society. The government of Montenegro also assumes that most of the displaced as well as the refugees will remain in the country.

A feasibility study carried out by HELP in January 2001 (Feasibility Study on Income Generating Activities for ECHO-Beneficiaries in Montenegro) has shown that work opportunities and income-generating activities are considered the most appropriate means to improve the socio-economic situation of refugees and displaced persons.

Between July 2001 and January 2002 HELP had implemented a pilot project for income generating activities; socially vulnerable persons, refugees and displaced persons received equipment (on average worth approx. € 800,-) which allowed them to make a living through their own work.

The results of this project were very encouraging. 256 persons had received productive means of all kind (fishing nets, sewing machines, various tools and the like); already at the end of 2001 85% of the beneficiaries had already realised an income, and 60% were making profit through their economic activities which they had started or extended through this programme. 62% of beneficiaries had a net gain under DM 300,- 36% between DM 300 and DM 400 and 5 % between DM 400 and DM 500 per month. Apart from the economic gains the improvement of the social status of the benficiary and the increased self-esteem are the outstanding results of the programme.

The biggest interest of beneficiaries was for investment in craft, followed by the services and agricultural sectors. Mainly living as subtenants or in collective centers beneficiaries choose activities that need no separate permanent locations. Hende, support for this kind of self-reliance activities does not present an obstacle toan eventual return of refugees and displaced persons (whatever kind of equipment was procurement could be taken back in case of return).

On 1 May 2003 HELP continued this programme with a new phase with financial support provided by the German Foreign Ministry as part of the German government’s assistance to the Stability Pact for South East Europe.

The objective of this programme is that people will take care of their own needs and become productive members of society.

Income-generating activities are all those activities with which beneficiaries can generate an income. These may be some kind of small repair shops in all kinds of crafts (metal work, carpentry, electricians) or tailoring, fishing, farming, produciton of food stuffs, drying herbs and so on…

It is the responsibility of the applicants to define the activity in which she/he wants to engage her/himself. The applicant must also identify the type of equipment that she/he needs to start this activity.

Assistance provided by HELP is exclusively in the form of equipment. There will be NO cash payments.

The assistance is provided as a grant worth on average € 800! HELP plans to support up to 85 beneficiaries.


Eligible are socially vulnerable persons who have the required skills to carry out the proposed activity and among this group those persons will be selected which propose sound business ideas. Preference will be given to persons with prior experience in the proposed activities.

Special preference will be given to female headed households with children (up to 14 years of age).

Beneficiaries have the following obligations:

1. repay 15% of grant in cash in one or two instalments
2. donate 10 hours of voluntary works for communal work (where feasible this social repayment may also be done in the form of a donation of items that the beneficiary has produced with the equipment provided by HELP).

Crnogorski Deutsch