There are more than 65 million people identified by United Nations Refugee Agency as being forcibly displaced and more than 22.5 million of those are refugees. At this moment in time, more people have been forced to flee their homes by conflict and crisis than at any time since World War II. Refugees are made up of many different walks of life and backgrounds and represent a population who seek a chance to rebuild their lives in the face of devastating circumstances. Like any other global crisis, in any sector, the private sector must play a major role in solving the issue. As technology, business, finance, and global supply chains begin to merge more and more; it presents an opportunity for private and public partnerships to come together and connect refugees to opportunities that were not possible 30-40-50 years ago. Below are a few brands and companies using their talents and creative minds to help alleviate this global crisis through business.
SITTI Soap is a social enterprise with an aim to empower and restore hope to refugee women through the making of handmade soap. Every olive oil bar is handmade, all natural, and free of toxins, preservatives, animal by-products, alcohol and additives. Since 2011, Co-founder Noora Sharrab has been continuous developing opportunity for Palestinian refugees through her NGO, Hope for Women in Education, providing annual scholarships to Palestinian women. The beautiful connection she shares with the young Gaza women of the Jerash Camp in Jordan, as well as her Gazan heritage, is what drew her to continue growing the organization. Her partner, Jackie Sofia, had also been connected with the women of the Jerash Camp in 2011 while working with the refugee settlement community during her Fulbright Fellowship in Jordan. Three years later, these two incredible women have come together, inspired by the thousands of women in the Jerash Refugee Camp.
Starbucks is leading a global effort to welcome and employ 10,000 refugees by 2022. In the U.S., initial efforts are focused on Iraqi and Afghan refugees who have served as interpreters for the U.S. Armed Forces. Additionally, the Starbucks Foundation plays a key role in funding specialized job training programs to create job ready refugees. These programs are delivered through their partners International Rescue Committee, Refugee Council UK, ACCES Employment, Scottish Refugee Council Lutheran Immigration Services Northwest, 1951 Coffee, and Upwardly Global.
Joggo bags are designed with high quality and a unique blend of functionality and style, helping better people’s lives at every step. Each fair trade certified bag is created in a women run co-op factory in Nepal. Joggo’s mission is to use part of the ptofitsfrom its bags to educate refugee children in different parts of the world. With the purchase of each bag, Joggo gives displaced children an opportunity to continue their education, empowering them to ultimately start their own journey to greater good. There are 19.5 million refugees worldwide and Joggo believes with education they can improve their livelihood to build a better life.
Airbnb is providing temporary accommodations for 100,000 displaced people and supporting their local integration into communities across Europe and North America. Called Open Homes, the Airbnb platform lets Airbnb members sign up to host a person in need—offering all or part of their residence. A select group of nonprofits and relief worker agencies can then use it to search for temporary housing for those they are helping.
734 Coffee is more than just exceptional coffee, it represents hope for over 200,000 displaced South Sudanese citizens who currently live in the region after fleeing war, atrocities, drought, and famine in South Sudan. 734 Coffee is the social enterprise arm of Humanity Helping Sudan Project(HHSP), a nonprofit dedicated to providing Sudanese refugees the tools and knowledge they need to achieve self-sufficiency. Manyang Reath Kher, founder of HHSP, began the organization with hope in his heart after having lived in several refugee camps along the Sudanese and Ethiopian border. Offering vocational programs, access to clean water, and farming tools, HHSP has helped hundreds of Sudanese refugees start a new, prosperous life. At 734 Coffee, 80% of products go to scholarships and the education programs for refugees of Sudan. This means every bag of coffee purchased provides one more day of school for 4 refugees.
Through the Welcome Talent initiative, LinkedIn partners with nonprofits, governments, and the private sector to provide refugee services that focus on career development and job accessibility. The Welcome Talent eco-system was originally built to create a platform where refugees coming into Sweden and employers in Sweden can easily find each other. To date, LinkedIn has expanded Welcome Talent to Canada and the U.S. after reaching 3,000 refugees in Sweden in 2016.
The Orenda Tribe is a lifestyle brand empowering young refugees through visual arts.1 The art pieces are printed onto 100% organic cotton shirts and sold worldwide to help bring more arts and opportunity to youth living in refugee camps and vulnerable communities. The designs bring a smile to your face as you browse their collection; from paintings of colorful bees, to flowers and fish. The Orenda Tribe works with organizations based in Jordan, assisting young Palestinian and Syrian refugees with building community, support and inspiration.
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Founder of Causeartist + Social Entrepreneur + Partner at Charity Charge.