GLOBAL • OTHER
DECEMBER 22, 2021
While migration has been in the spotlight in the last six or so years, it is not a recent phenomenon. Humanity has been in constant movement since the beginning of our existence for a variety of reasons: natural disasters, lack of decent living conditions, religious or other persecution, war etc. Just in the last decade we have witnessed almost seven million Syrian refugees fleeing the country, another four million Venezuelans finding a home elsewhere, and this year, over two million Afghan citizens left after the Taliban took over the country. Add it all up and we have over 82 million people being forcibly replaced according to the UNHCR.
Most people can agree that migration cannot be avoided or stopped, however, we can change the way migration is handled and how migrants are perceived. The current climate towards immigrants has strong negative connotations with accusations of criminal activities or abuse of the social care system, however historically, migration has been seen as a positive. Just think of the United States and the ‘melting pot’ metaphor. Even with the recent turbulations in US politics, diversity is still considered as one of their foundations.
So how can we adopt a policy of reception and inclusion rather than separation and exclusion, and better prepare for an influx in the population? This question is especially important for emerging markets where 86 percent of refugees are hosted, with Turkey, Colombia, and Pakistan being the current top three host countries.
Let’s look at some of the potential benefits of a more acceptable migrant policy. Firstly, the increase in population will also mean an increase in the workforce - most migrants today are in the 18 to 59 age range, and are able and willing to work. They are also highly motivated to get better education and training to represent an increasing number of entrepreneurs and self-employed people in their host countries.
“Syrian refugees started over 15,000 businesses in Turkey and provided a living wage to 250,000 Syrians and their families. Companies with Syrian co-founders also add around $480 million USD to the Turkish GDP. In the long term, increased GDP will also mean an increase in demand and productivity, as well as more job opportunities for both locals and migrants.” said Berat Kjamili, co-founder of Migport, an online knowledge-sharing platform connecting refugees with locals.
Another very important economic development is the increase in the remittances market. Most migrants send some of their earnings back to their home country to support family members and communities. In 2018, over 200 million migrant workers sent $689 billion USD to remittance reliant countries, of which the overwhelming majority went towards developing countries and rural communities struggling with poverty. This private source of capital amounts to three times more than official development assistance (ODA) and foreign direct investment (FDI) combined.
Despite the proven benefits migration can bring to a country, the lack of preparedness can result in chaos, friction, and ultimately, a negative outcome for both migrants and host countries. Furthermore, migrants constantly face challenges that can prevent them from reaching their full potential, from racism and xenophobia to language barriers and administrative hurdles.
As technology seeps into every aspect of our lives, it is no surprise that migrants and refugees also heavily rely on it. In our mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets, we witnessed thousands of companies trying to solve the most urgent of today’s issues through technological innovation. In the last two years, we have also developed The Migration Entrepreneurship Prize, which identifies and supports socially driven businesses on a mission to enhance the socio-economic inclusion of migrants in the Middle East and Sub-Saharan and North Africa.
The startups have developed new fintech solutions to reduce remittance fees, low-cost durable housing solutions, platforms where refugees can teach languages to earn income as well as online learning platforms so they wouldn’t fall behind on their education, HR solutions for easier recruiting and hiring, and much more. Check out some of the startups here and here.
According to scientists, forced migration is a defiant consequence of the climate crisis. We will witness more and more people being forced to migrate, as a result of the rising sea levels, more frequent and deadly natural disasters as well as inability to have fertile soils for food production. Therefore, the likeability of migration by conflicts over geopolitical space/land increases. The challenge is unavoidable and we, as humanity, have the responsibility to choose best how to deal with it.
Do you have an idea that can contribute to this challenge? Do you know of a startup or entrepreneur working on this? Would you like to explore opportunities for collaboration? Let’s collaborate together.
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