Amman, Jordan, May 12, 2019—Refugee
communities can be further supported by the expansion of formal financing
and business opportunities, and increasingly investors, businesses and
local communities are interested in participating or expanding their activities
in these markets in the Middle East and Africa, according to a landmark
study by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group.
The study—conducted by IFC in partnership
with The Bridgespan Group—examined more than 170 private sector initiatives
focused on refugees and host communities in Africa and the Middle East.
It found that 60 percent of surveyed companies expect to deepen their
refugee-related engagements in the coming years. That is important, the
report found, because private firms are well-placed to create the jobs
and economic opportunities that many refugees desperately need.
"As forced displacement becomes
increasingly protracted, longer-term development solutions must supplement
humanitarian aid," said Sérgio Pimenta, IFC’s Vice President for
the Middle East and Africa.
"This new study reveals how the
private sector can play an important role by engaging refugees as employees,
employers, producers, and customers—and identifies ways to scale up these
projects so that refugees can make greater economic contributions to their
host communities, while becoming more self-reliant. "
The report, the first of its kind, notes
that because forcibly displaced persons often end up spending years in
their host countries, they need jobs, financial services, and skills training.
Private companies, from tech startups to credit card providers, are playing
an important role in creating those opportunities, and they can do much
more, found the study, entitled Private
Sector and Refugees: Pathways to Scale.
The study highlights the activities
of several companies, including Irisguard,
a start-up that allows refugees in Jordan to pay for food with a simple
eye scan; Sanivation, which employs refugees and host community members
in Kenya, and Inyenyeri, which is helping to tackle pollution at a major
refugee camp in Rwanda.
The study also found that firms can
scale up their impact on refugees and host communities through innovative
financial tools and products (like venture capital approaches), cross-sector
partnerships, and better access to market information.
More than 68 million people have been
forcibly displaced worldwide according to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
The figure includes 25 million refugees and 40 million internally displaced
persons. Some 85 percent of the world’s refugees are currently in low
and middle-income countries, with the majority hosted in 10 countries across
Africa and the Middle East.
Pathways to Scale follows another
vanguard IFC study
which looked at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northwestern Kenya as a marketplace,
and identified a growing $56 million consumer market.
IFC—a sister organization of the World Bank and member of the World Bank
Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private
sector in emerging markets. We work with more than 2,000 businesses worldwide,
using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities
in the toughest areas of the world. In fiscal year 2018, we delivered more
than $23 billion in long-term financing for developing countries, leveraging
the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared
prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org