UNHCR and the Aspen Institute to Strengthen Refugee Artisan Businesses

November 1, 2017

Partnership begins with TEDWomen Global Showcase: Building Livelihoods for Refugee Women

Contact: Gina Rogari
Program Manager
Alliance for Artisan Enterprise

New Orleans, LA, November 1, 2017 – United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Aspen Institute’s Alliance for Artisan Enterprise have partnered to create economic opportunities for refugees through artisan enterprise. November 1-3, 2017, UNHCR and the Aspen Institute joined forces to launch the 2017 Global Showcase at the TEDWomen Conference in New Orleans, LA. With the support of USA for UNHCR, the Global Showcase features 11 artisan enterprises that are working across the Middle East, Africa, and the United States to provide meaningful work to more than 1,500 refugee women.

The partnership between UNHCR and the Aspen Institute seeks to address the immense need of refugees for sustainable income-earning opportunities and the power of economic productivity to rebuild lives.

“We are delighted to support the Alliance’s TEDWomen Global Showcase to tell the stories of refugees from all over the world who are rebuilding their lives through enterprise” noted Anne-Marie Grey, Executive Director and CEO of USA for UNHCR.

Around the world, over 65 million people have been forcibly displaced from their homes – many uprooted for more than 20 years. After fleeing war or persecution, the opportunity to work and earn a living is one of the most effective ways people can rebuild their lives in dignity and peace. “The creation of viable artisan businesses connected to markets empowers refugees to build strong social and economic ties with their host communities and the world, and strengthens their ability to provide for their families while in refugee status,” says Peggy Clark, Vice President of the Aspen Institute and Executive Director of Aspen Global Innovators Group.

“When refugees flee, they flee with their heritage and their skills. For refugees to be able to use their artisanal skills in a way that helps them earn an income is so important in the process of rebuilding their lives in a peaceful and meaningful way,” says Heidi Christ, Artisan Value Chain Expert at UNHCR.

The partnership between UNHCR and the Aspen Institute brings together UNHCR’s commitment to the wellbeing of refugees and work on economic inclusion with the Alliance for Artisan Enterprise’s network of 140 members in 114 countries and expertise in building viable artisan businesses. Together, the organizations will work closely with refugee artisan businesses to introduce unique products and techniques to the market, while giving refugees the opportunity to earn an income and restore their sense of self-determination.

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit www.aspeninstitute.org.

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