Private Sector Call to Action on Refugees

The humanitarian crisis we face is in fact so immense, it has the perverse effect of providing almost limitless ways to help and make a difference. As foundations, as philanthropists, as entrepreneurs, you can take risks and experiment…Corporate partners can deepen their investments in educating, training, and then employing this next generation of talent. Community leaders can help schools in their own neighborhoods connect and partner with sister schools in the region. Education firms can work with humanitarian organizations on the ground to provide virtual learning platforms. Students can prototype new ideas like classrooms on wheels or language lessons on podcast. And all of us can look at global problems in new ways—not as challenges over which to despair, but as great problems to solve.”

–U.S. Department of State Deputy Secretary Antony Blinken


There are 21 million people in the world today who have crossed international borders in search of refuge. Along with the people displaced within their own countries, they are some of the more than 65 million people who make up the greatest movement of people since the Second World War. For years, the U.S. private sector has drawn on its unique expertise, resources and entrepreneurial spirit to help refugees rebuild their lives and contribute to their new communities. But more must be done to respond to a crisis of this scale.

In June 2016, ahead of the global Leaders’ Summit on Refugees, President Obama issued a Call to Action for the U.S. private sector to make new, measurable and significant commitments that will have a long-term, sustainable impact for refugees, wherever they reside, including here in the United States.

To support the Call, the State Department launched the Partnership for Refugees, which provides guidance to private sector organizations that want to take action with a goal of ensuring that private sector pledges are durable and responsive to refugees’ needs. The Partnership will:

• Share data and best practices to guide private sector action.

• Draw on knowledge of refugees’ needs to offer feedback on specific proposals.

• Connect interested private sector leaders and representatives with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), UN agencies, and government officials working on the ground.

• Develop criteria for assessing and measuring the impact of pledges made in response to the Call to Action.

Connect with the Partnership for Refugees for more information on how your company or organization can join President Obama’s Call to Action.

Date: 06/30/2016 Description: Photo of a man with text reading: President Obama is calling on business leaders to aid refugees by ensuring they can access schools and learning programs; increasing employment and business opportunities; enabling access to the resources they need to become self-reliant. AidRefugees.gov. #RefugeesWelcome. UNHCR/Maren Wickwire. © Photo courtesy of UNHCR

Private sector organizations can make a lasting, positive impact on the lives of refugees in a number of ways, including:

1. Facilitating refugee children and young adults’ education by ensuring that refugee students can go to school—in all grades and levels—and creating quality long-distance learning platforms and programs.

2. Helping refugees enter the workforce by providing, or helping refugees obtain, vocational training and language skills, and developing tools to match refugees’ skills with existing employment opportunities.

3. Providing, or helping refugees obtain, technical assistance and seed funding so that they can start new businesses.

4. Promoting refugee employment by hiring refugees, procuring goods and services from businesses that hire refugees, making investments in “frontline” states that will generate jobs for both refugees and local communities, or help place refugees in jobs.

5. Helping refugees stay connected, including via wireless services in refugee camps and by ensuring continuity of mobile services across borders.

6. Ensuring that refugees receive financial services, notwithstanding their lack of a permanent residence.

7. Providing or facilitating refugees’ access to quality, affordable housing.

8. Helping governments take new or additional steps to support refugees, by expanding refugee resettlement programs or adopting policies allowing refugees to work and refugee children to attend school.