International Migrants Day 2020: Putting migrants groups at the heart of the post-COVID recovery

On International Migrants Day 2020 we recognise the importance and contributions of migrants and the value different migrant groups (inc. of refugees, Internally Displaced Peoples and stateless) can bring to host countries, as well as their home communities.

2020 has certainly been a year for the books. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a global slowdown in economic growth, a spike in global unemployment levels (especially among young people) and the prospect of returning to poverty levels not seen since the 1990s.

With those living on the margins and those already living in precarity being disproportionately affected by the pandemic, the consequences from the COVID-19 outbreak may be felt for years come.

For millions of refugees and other migrants, the effects of the pandemic and global lockdowns have been felt particularly hard. Some have summarised the impact of COVID-19 on refugees as millions being “locked out and left behind”. Refugees’ and migrants invisibility to social safety nets, along with rising nationalism, has — and will continue to — serve to increase their economic precarity in the face of COVID-19, as well as into the socio-economic recovery from it.

To support migrant groups and others we must take stock of the socio-economic lessons of this pandemic, and the related impacts of the recession. We must also avoid over-hasty returns to the ‘growth-without-inclusion’ recovery strategies of the last decade at the expense of not building into it the resilience and inclusion needed for the most vulnerable.

Putting migrants at the heart of a post-COVID recovery is key to #buildingbackbetter.

Both refugee and other migrant contributions to host economies cannot be understated. The evidence on their role in foreign direct investment, innovation and development is well documented, and therefore their role in the global recovery cannot be overlooked.

With the arrival of a vaccine, and the economic forecast for the second half of 2021 looking promising, we look to the optimism of an economic recovery and a return to some sense of normality. Putting migrants at the heart of this recovery can help sure up growth strategies and stimulate enterprise. In fact, promoting migrant-based employment and entrepreneurship activities can help sure up the backbone of a host economy’s economic development.

Migrants bring with them to host countries the potential of new skills, knowledge, labour, energy and trade networks. They can stimulate stagnating sectors, as well as open up new ones. Migrants are more likely to start businesses than native-born peers, and their role in stimulating entrepreneurial growth is vital. Young refugee women alone have the potential to contribute up to $1.4 trillion to global GDP annually if they can be productively integrated into the workforce.

Our work with migrant groups

At Challenges we believe everybody has the potential to thrive, and has the right to dignified work. We are committed to promoting inclusive growth across emerging markets, and unlocking the potential of business to support marginalised and vulnerable groups, including refugees and other migrants (inc. Internally Displaced Peoples and stateless).

This past year we have collaborated with global organisations supporting migrants across both employment and entrepreneurship. Our approach is always grounded in contextuality and is evidence-based, Drawing on learnings from across our markets and other partners we work to create inclusive and market-responsive interventions which serve lasting, sustainable and inclusive development.

Check out two examples of how we have supported migrant socio-economic inclusion over 2020:

Supporting youth on the move through entrepreneurship

Earlier this year we were commissioned by Youth Business International to undertake a global scoping study report of learning and good practices for supporting young refugees and other migrants through entrepreneurship. The report, called Beating the odds: Supporting youth on the move to become successful entrepreneurs, provides a detailed review of lessons and insights for how global and local Entrepreneurship Support Organisations can foster productive entrepreneurial outcomes among young people who are ‘on the move’. Similarly, it provides insights for policy makers and wider stakeholders on developing strong and strategic partnerships for supporting these groups better. An executive summary of the report can be found here.
A Youth Business International report authored by Challenges Group

Supporting reintegration of returnee migrants in Ghana through employment and entrepreneurship

Partnering with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) in Ghana, Challenges have been supporting the piloting and development of a multi-pathway transition programme for returnee migrants to help them fully integrate back into society. Through our work, we provided market-responsive employment readiness training supporting returnees to become ‘work-ready’ and move on into decent work. Similarly, using context-based market assessments we developed a entrepreneurship training programme which helped returnee migrants identify business opportunities and establish their own ventures to become self-reliant. Examples of the sectors where we have helped returnee migrants establish businesses include: textiles, automotive, agribusiness, and food and retail.

The success of the programme has led us now to explore what a scaled-up model could look like in order to expand our support to returnee migrants across Ghana and in other markets.

Photo: A returnee-migrant Challenges supported to establish a textiles business in Kumasi, Ghana.

At Challenges we have spent the past 20 years working across emerging markets and supporting SME sectors to grow and thrive, as well as promote the inclusion of the most vulnerable, including migrants. We look forward to partnering with others into the 2021 recovery as we #buildbackbetter together.

A family of social businesses committed to building a more prosperous world.

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