Policy Guide on Entrepreneurship for Migrants and Refugees

This policy guide focuses on the role of entrepreneurship in enhancing the positive effects of migration on economic growth and development.

The Guide is a practical tool aimed at strengthening the humanitarian-development nexus urged by the World Humanitarian Summit in May 2016 and the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants adopted at the 71st United Nations General Assembly in September 2016.

In order to inform policy decisions and programming, UNCTAD, IOM and UNHCR have put together their forces to provide a fact-based guide, highlighting the positive social, cultural and economic contribution that migrants and refugees can make to their home and host countries.

This guide argues that entrepreneurship can be an effective way to include migrants and refugees in local economies, by sharing their knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit, and creating new market opportunities and cross-border networks. Entrepreneurship can also be part of the long-term solutions needed to address the consequences of large movements of forcibly displaced persons, in addition to the important measures that are put in place to cope with the immediate effects of humanitarian crises. The creation of economic opportunities for all, with the purpose of leaving no one behind, is among the top priorities of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. One mechanism to achieve this is thus through the promotion of entrepreneurship.

Policies and programmes play an important role in supporting entrepreneurial activity by (and for) refugees and migrants and in addressing the barriers they face to engaging in economic activity. In a number of countries, a series of seemingly unsurmountable obstacles can be identified, posed by, e.g. the regulations preventing migrants from working or hindering their ability to access startup financing and open formal bank accounts. Despite that, the empirical evidence provided by this guide shows that in several other countries solutions to these obstacles are being found. Governments, public institutions, non-governmental organizations and the private sector can effectively support entrepreneurial activity by (and for) refugees and migrants, with meaningful contributions to their well-being and with a positive social impact.

Through this guide, the partnering organizations wish to acknowledge the role of migrants and refugees as an integral part of a globalized world and aim to enhance their contribution to, and benefit from, inclusive and sustainable development.