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news | September 27, 2016 | Thailand | Development

Noklu and Noimo: Best friends and business partners

Noklu (left) and Noimo (right) in their snack retail shop, Ban Mai Surin refugee camp, September 2016. (ACTED)

Since 2013, ACTED is providing vocational training to Burmese refugees in Thailand and supporting the development of small enterprises.

Since 1984, Burma refugees in Thailand have endured a long displacement situation resulting in most of this population having no occupation or employable skills. Meanwhile, Myanmar has undergone a transition towards peace and democracy. Refugees are now more optimistic about returning. Many of them have never worked and have few opportunities to develop their skills. Providing refugees with vocational skills and the means to start businesses is a significant investment in preparing refugees for return and in ensuring that Burmese economic development benefits those who have been most affected by conflict. Therefore, ACTED, with the support of EuropeAid and the US Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, has provided refugees with vocational trainings courses and launched a small enterprise development (SED) programme.

Noklu, 48, and Noimo, 39, are best friends. They come from the East of Myanmar, and arrived in the Ban Mai Surin refugee camp, in Thailand, five years ago. The two women never went to school and had nothing to do but to stay home and take care of their children. They dreamt of opening their own retail business in order to make an independent income for their family, but banks refused to give them a loan. They heard that ACTED was providing vocational training and was helping setting-up small enterprises for the people in their camp and decided to apply.

After graduating from a retail course, they took part in the SED programme and received business training and a grant of 7,000 baht (180€) each. They used it to build a small shop and buy supplies, and their business opened in December 2015. They are selling snacks and have started growing vegetables to sell. The business is going well and they each make a 2,500 baht profit per month. They save this money to expand their business and cater for their families’ future needs. If they can return to Myanmar, they will re-open their shop and keep it running for as long as they can.

If Noklu and Noimo could share one message with all other refugees, they would encourage them to follow vocational training courses and start their own businesses that will benefit both themselves and the wider community.