Private Sector Takes Steps to Address the Global Refugee Crisis

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – A recent report by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, said that a record number of people were displaced from their homes in 2015 due to wars and persecution. The report found that one in every 113 people globally is now either an asylum-seeker, internally displaced or a refugee – putting them at a level of risk for which UNHCR knows no precedent. A total of 65.3 million people were displaced at the end of 2015, compared to 59.5 million just 12 months earlier.

Earlier this year, the US government launched a call to action asking private sector companies to help with the global refugee crisis. More than 50 companies have come forward and pledged to take specific steps to contribute to the end of the refugee crisis. These companies include:


Accenture has committed to providing over $3 million in financial support and in-kind strategic consulting, program management, and digital services to support the Partnership for Refugees and Upwardly Global. The company is expanding its refugee workforce programs in the US and globally as aligned to its global Skills to Succeed program.


Airbnb has committed to developing a program that enables existing Airbnb hosts temporarily to accommodate refugee families when long-term housing is not immediately available; expand its initiative to host relief workers through the travel credits program; and develop a job creation strategy for Syrian refugees in Jordan through a livelihoods pilot program.


Citigroup has pledged to collaborate with its public and private sector clients as well as with its strategic partners to focus on sustainable solutions that are responsive to the needs of refugees. These solutions include initiatives that target youth education and employability, as well as collaboration with sovereigns and the international development community on ideas around creative financing solutions to unlock funding to address the needs of displaced persons.


Facebook has pledged to bring Wi-Fi connectivity to 35 locations across Greece, in partnership with NetHope; develop a strategy for bringing internet connectivity to individuals living in refugee camps and surrounding communities, in partnership with UNHCR and local partners; and leverage the Facebook social media platform to raise awareness and funds for the refugee crisis.

Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs has committed to donating $7.5 million to support refugees in partnership with leading NGOs, including UNHCR. Goldman will provide support to organizations delivering critical humanitarian aid, including food, shelter, urgent medical care, and trauma support; and help ensure refugee children have access to consistent education and safe learning facilities throughout camps in and around Syria.


Google has pledged to provide new funding and technical expertise to organizations enabling 10,000 out-of-school primary school-aged refugees in Lebanon to access free formal education through a new primary school classroom model in 2017.


HP has pledged to establish six HP Learning Studios in Lebanon and Jordan to engage refugee youth in developing skills and help to give refugee students access to the latest education technology while providing adults the opportunity for employment re-skilling. The company has also committed to expanding the HP Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE) with additional free online courses and curated content to help refugees develop essential business and IT skills.


IBM has pledged to continue its ongoing commitment in support of migrants and refugees, with a focus on the crisis in Europe.  IBM intends to continue actively seeking grant partnerships, volunteerism opportunities, and other avenues to leverage IBM’s capabilities in support of this humanitarian crisis.


IKEA US has committed to introducing a national community involvement activity in Fiscal Year 2017, in partnership with select refugee non-profit organizations, and to use IKEA's furniture and home furnishing expertise to help refugees in the US. This estimated in-kind donation will be worth approximately $500,000.

Johnson & Johnson

J&J has pledged to donate an additional $1.75 million to Save the Children, earmarked for refugees, to be spent in 2016 and 2017; to expand programmatic efforts to Turkey and Egypt; to shift its program focus to refugee education, mental health support, and community building initiatives for refugee parents; and to launch a public awareness-campaign in support of refugees.


LinkedIn is committed to growing its refugee initiative, Welcoming Talent, to additional countries beyond Sweden.  LinkedIn is taking a different strategy in expanding to Canada by integrating LinkedIn training curriculum into economic empowerment and employment programs, in collaboration with the Prime Minister’s office and two local NGOs, and scaling this approach with the IRC to expand in global markets.


MasterCard has pledged to expand the reach of its MasterCard Aid Network, humanitarian prepaid, and remittance services, to 2 million aid recipients; to mobilize and partner with other private and public sector organizations to build “smart communities” that seek to integrate refugee populations; and to assist refugee-serving organizations with information safety and security workshops and guidance.

McKinsey & Co.

McKinsey has committed to conducting and publishing new research, which will seek to understand the root causes, economic, social, and environmental impacts of migration and to develop a toolkit for policymakers, executives, and social leaders; lead activities to improve education for Syrian refugee children in Lebanon; and partner with a leading international humanitarian organization to develop interventions to create meaningful job opportunities for Syrian refugees in Jordan.


Microsoft has pledged to build upon existing partnerships with the U.N. and NGOs such as UNHCR to invest in technology that provides refugees with broader access to education, professional skills, and economic opportunity. This includes support for UNHCR’s Connectivity for Refugee initiative, and donation of cloud technology services to NGOS engaged in refugee relief.

Soros Fund Management

Soros has pledged to invest up to $500 million in companies leveraging their resources and ingenuity to aid refugees worldwide, doubling down on the premise that the private sector can lead global change. These investments will target startups, established companies, and social impact initiatives, including businesses started by refugees themselves.


TripAdvisor will commit at least $5 million, over the next three years, from the TripAdvisor Charitable Foundation to aid the humanitarian refugee crisis, expanding its partnerships with the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps, and through providing in-kind support through its TripAdvisor Media Group.


Twitter has committed to supporting NGOs that directly assist refugees with an “Ads for Good” advertising grant of $50,000, and to provide best practices trainings to refugee-serving organizations in Europe and the United States.


Uber has pledged to work with U.S. resettlement agencies to provide independent work opportunities to refugees through its platform and connect potential refugee drivers with affordable, low-risk leases and auto discounts.  Uber also pledges to support local organizations that provide critical goods and services to refugee families through the UberGIVING donation campaign.


UPS has pledged to leverage funding, expertise, company resources, and UPS volunteers to expand its partnerships with UNHCR, UNICER, WFP, Care, the Salvation Army, and others, investing up to an additional $1 million to provide relief to refugee communities and support to displaced people around the world.


Image Credit: 3BL Media