Economy• CONNECTION

Ikea Invests in Impact Bond Designed to Help Syrian Refugees Develop Job Skills

Creating investment incentives.
Patti Podnar

At the 2019 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, IKEA's philanthropic wing committed $7.7 million toward the development of an impact bond to provide vocational skills training for Syrian refugees living in Lebanon and Jordan. 

According to ImpactAlpha, the two countries host an estimated 1.7 million refugees. And, as stated in a report produced by the World Bank and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the "vast majority" are either living in poverty or will be living in poverty in the future. While many receive social services, the vast number of refugees is putting a strain on the host countries' resources, and the current level of support isn't sustainable.

One possible answer, as illustrated by IKEA's commitment to contribute to an impact bond, is to provide the refugees with the skills they need to support their families and become contributing members of their communities. As the World Bank put it, "The focus must shift beyond social protection for refugees to include economic growth in the areas hosting them so that refugees and local communities can share in economic progress. This will require continued close collaboration between humanitarian and development agencies and international partners in order to transform a humanitarian crisis into a development opportunity for all."

Working with the advisory firm Kois, the IKEA Foundation will help fund an impact bond designed to assist up to 12,000 refugees, primarily women, in starting home-based businesses over the next three years.