Global businesses can make unique and valuable contributions to refugee response by engaging refugees not as aid recipients, but as employees, producers, investees, and customers.
The position of global enterprises as market leaders, policy influencers, and innovators gives them distinctive capacities for engagement and advocacy that do not exist within the traditional refugee response community.
By including refugees in their core business activities, global enterprises can achieve social impact, gain reputational benefits, and build brand loyalty, while maintaining or enhancing their bottom line.
Global businesses can sustainably increase their engagement with refugees by:
Including refugees in hiring and supply chains. Global companies can advance their businesses and improve refugees’ capacity for self-reliance by creating targets or incentives around hiring refugees as employees, sourcing from refugee-owned businesses, and sourcing from businesses that employ significant numbers of refugees.
Impact investing for refugee livelihoods. Global investment firms can improve refugee livelihoods and achieve financial returns by investing in companies that hire and source from refugees, refugee-owned small and medium-sized enterprises, social enterprises, and development impact bonds.
Developing goods and services to meet refugee needs. In targeted areas such as financial services, global businesses can potentially reach refugees as customers by adapting their goods, services, and delivery systems.
Global businesses should partner with host governments and humanitarian and development actors to advance policy reforms and programs that enable success, to ensure that solutions meet the needs and protect the rights of refugees. And, to promote sustainability and local support for their efforts, global companies should engage in ways that benefit both refugees and host communities.
Global businesses and their partners should collaborate to develop resources and mechanisms that increase effectiveness and accountability, including standards for ethical conduct, diagnostic tools for identifying core business opportunities, country-level facilitation platforms, and a learning and evaluation center.