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CSR: Airbnb Is Pitching In To Improve The Lives Of Refugees

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About 2 million people were displaced from their homes, and around 28,000 are still forced to flee on a daily basis due to persecution, conflict and natural disasters last year. The International Chamber of Commerce marked World Refugee Day on June 20, by launching a partnership with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and issuing a call for companies to hire greater numbers of refugees, who now number 70 million worldwide.
“The private sector has an enormous capacity to empower refugees as full participants in the global economy,” the ICC said in a statement. “As economic actors, policy influencers, employers and innovators, the business has the tools and capacity to contribute to win-win solutions that support the integration of refugees into the workforce and bring value to society as a whole.”
The global refugee crisis isn’t new, but more companies are now recognising the enormous economic potential of bringing refugees into their supply chain.
Airbnb’s approach to helping refugees has been innovative in more than one way. In 2012, the global apartment-sharing service launched its Open Homes programme to help house victims of natural disasters, inviting hosts to “share your space for good”. Then, in response to President Donald Trump’s travel ban in 2017, the programme introduced its refugee service, where hosts open their homes to refugees free of charge. With $4m budgeted over four years, Airbnb says it is committed to helping refugees and asylum seekers find housing by offering “travel credits” to agencies helps house asylum seekers fleeing the crisis in Venezuela, or the International Rescue Committee, which books homes globally for refugees as part of its resettlement process.
Unlike the anonymity of hotels, the Open Homes experience creates belonging and connectivity, especially when refugees come to a foreign place they’ve never been, by placing them in homes with hosts where they can feel much more connected to the community.
The company says it is also helping refugees earn money directly by enabling them to become hosts offering paid “experiences”, such as leading tours or teaching cooking classes and other artisan crafts. From Jordan to Kenya to Brazil, refugees are bringing in much-needed income for their families through Airbnb, and in many cases, “travellers aren’t even aware that they’re helping refugees generate revenue through an entrepreneurial type service.

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