Whenever refugees flee, they leave behind their livelihoods, their prospects and critically, their capacity for self-reliance. But what many retain are the traditional stalls and craftsmanship that have been passed down from generation to generation, from leather working of the Tuareg in Burkina Faso to the fine embroidery of the Syrians in Lebanon.
MADE 51 exists to help refugees harness these skills for their own advancement, enabling them to participate in the growing global artisan economy. By modernizing traditional skills, building business sources, partnering with social enterprises and with retail brands and buyers who can source and support the product lines. UNHCR can connect refugee – made artisanal products with international markets where they are in demand.
Humanitarian emergencies around the world have produced record levels of displacement and human suffering. An unprecedented change 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees living in 129 hosting countries. Over half of the refugees are under the age of 18. After fleeing war or persecution, the opportunity for work and even a living is one of the most effective ways people can rebuild their lives in dignity and peace.
UNHCR helps link those who have been forced to flee with safe value chains that offer a source of income without risk to their safety and well-being.
The United Nations Refugees Agency’s mandate is to provide protection to refugees and identity solution. War, violence and persecution has uprooted more people around the world than at any time in the last 70 years. Despite these challenging times, UNHCR is looking at partnerships for solidarity to ensure that the world’s refugees are properly protected while solutions are pursued. The endeavours to try for a future when fleeing home can bring hope, not only despair. A future where their skills are put to use, not left idle. A future where refugees contribute to their own wellbeing, rather than developing on international aid. A future where refugees are a part of both social and global economy, not left on the margins of society.
Many refugees have specialised artisanal skills, which have been passed down over generations and practiced over a lifetime. If given the opportunity they could be included in the global economy and earn income.
The key is MADE 51, which aims to bring market access to refugee artisans. Rather than viewing 19.9 million refugees across the globe as a burden, MADE 51, sees untapped talent and potential that if unlocked, can directly benefit displaced women, man and children as well as host communities and local business.
Through MADE 51 a business model has been made that provides refugees artisans with the knowledge, skills and access that leads to their inclusion in the global artisan value chain for artisanal products. By partnering with social enterprises and linking with retail brands and buyers, MADE 51 can help obtain orders for refugee made products.
MADE 51 is promoting the refugee made collection because UNHCR wants them to see what it sees – the creative power of 19.9 million refugees around the world. In so doing the organisation can collectively challenge perceptions of refugees, and the role they have to play in society across the world.
Remarkably, less than a year since its inception, refugee – made products from three MADE 51 social enterprises were chosen for the 2018 Trade Show at Ambiente, the world’s leading show for consumer goods.
This is a special honour, a clean recognition of the potential for refugee artisans to create unique and desirable products through MADE 51.