In cities around the world, we empower young people to thrive by supporting them to build their own business or enter the job market. Resilient Futures helps our clients develop their business skills, grow their networks and engage with their local communities. We have supported over 5,400 young people across seven countries since launching the program in 2017. In 2023, we aim to reach 885 new clients.

Building Resilient Futures

Many participants are among the more than 100 million refugees and internally displaced people—the highest number ever recorded. With the majority living in urban settings, empowering displaced people who are rebuilding their lives in cities around the world is more important than ever.

Lydia poses for a portrait on a hill above a city.
Lydia El-Amamu, now 34, lives in Yola in northeast Nigeria, where she has run her own business, called Emmy Quality Shoe Production, since 2018. She opened the store after taking part in the Resilient Futures program. “There are many things I learned in the program,” she says. “My dream for the future is to have different branches everywhere, so that the whole world will know my name.”
Photo: Elena Heatherwick for the IRC
Program and mentorship

The Resilient Futures program provides support and resources to young entrepreneurs, who take part in mentoring and training initiatives, and learn about the needs of their local markets. 

Entrepreneurs with promising business plans receive a grant to help cover the start-up costs of their businesses. Other participants are introduced to mentors and directed toward helpful resources. The program helps create financial independence while also contributing to participants’ communities.

Abigail poses for a portrait in her salon and stands, smiling in front of her salon chair.
Abigail Ayuba, 25, in her salon in Mari, Nigeria, which she opened after receiving business training and a grant from the Resilient Futures program. “Having my own business makes me very happy," she says. "It helps me save more money to help my family and to look after my future."
Photo: KC Nwakalor for the IRC
Adapting to COVID-19

In the wake of the pandemic, the Resilient Futures program we adapted to focus on building “business resiliency,” helping our clients overcome the economic consequences caused by COVID-19 and preparing them for future financial shocks.

In addition to building business resiliency, we provide health regulation training to promote safe business practices. 

Supporting research

The IRC and Citi Foundation fund research projects that study how to best support displaced people. Our research on the inclusion of displaced people in city planning and politics serves as a call to action for the private sector and international organizations. We need their help in supporting policies and programs that empower displaced people in urban environments.

Our research on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has found that displaced women are highly affected by the economic consequences of the pandemic. We are calling for further support to end the stigma and discrimination displaced women face around the world.

Especially in countries experiencing conflict, research also shows that displaced people are not appropriately considered by national and international authorities. We have provided recommendations for tracking and meeting the needs of these underserved populations. 

Musa poses for a picture at his shop.
Musa Bello, 21, runs a shop selling engine oil and car parts in Yola, Nigeria. After his father died, Musa become the head of his family, working to support his mother and eight siblings. After taking part in Resilient Futures, he said, “I am part of my business and the business is part of me. I feel like a real businessman".
Photo: Elena Heatherwick for the IRC
Lydia walking in a market.

My life has changed a lot since the course. I am a businesswoman and I really mean business. I used to dream of making shoes and now I am a shoemaker. I’m proud of myself. I feel strong.

Resilient Futures participant and owner of Emmy Quality Shoe Production