Blog Post

Refugees Are Not A Burden; They Are An Opportunity!

August 21, 2017

By Ahmad Sufian Bayram

2 min


Given that the act of picking up and moving to another country is an inherently brave and risky decision, it should be of no surprise that refugees and immigrants have repeatedly been found to be more entrepreneurial than locals.

Economic activities of refugees are generally heavily restricted by legal constraints, including limitations on movement, no labour market access or only partial access, and denial of financial and nonfinancial services for entrepreneurs.

Dealing with the refugee crisis is a huge challenge, and it should involve people from both host and refugee communities working together to create greater opportunities. We need to breakdown walls between people and build an inclusive and collaborative community and exchange of time, experiences and expertise in order to achieve mutually beneficial results.

Refugees are more likely to start businesses than locals. They are hungry to succeed, which has more to do with playing to win and less to do with playing with percentages. It is a survival game.

Unfortunately, refugees are too often seen only as part of the problem and not the solution. Syrian refugee entrepreneurs have proven there are opportunities to contribute and empower the economy and culture with their mobility and diversity. They are trying to solve problems, such as access to the right information to avoid bureaucracies, learning and teaching the local language, finding a job, connecting refugees and more.

Dozens of Syrian IT experts and postgraduates, if not hundreds, moved to South East Asia, specifically to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where they have not required a Visa entry and easy for them to obtain residency to work for major technology companies and startups there.

Since 2011, Syrians have registered more than 8,000 new businesses in Turkey, mostly relocated from Syria and Syrians are the top foreign investors in Turkish local start-ups. More than $1 billion was invested by Syrians in Jordan and 370 manufactories formed.

In Germany, have a technical, university or postgraduate level of education. A group of Syrian refugees developed an application that helps non-German speakers complete governmental transactions through the translation of application forms into selected languages before automatically filling in standard specifications such as name, date of birth and address.

The business, however, has faced its own challenges pertaining to cultural context, understanding foreign customers’ behavior, legal permissions and language demands.

Photo: Some of the coding sessions took place inside Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp [Dana Roesiger/Al Jazeera

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