When you think about the global refugee problem and who can help solve it, you might not intuitively come up with the private sector. It's generally considered the preserve of governments and humanitarian and development agencies. 

But businesses have a valuable role to play, says CGD senior policy fellow Cindy Huang: “They can engage with refugees as employees, as people who can supply goods and services, and also people to invest in, and that is very unique.” 

Huang is the author of a joint report with the Tent Foundation called Global Business and Refugee Crises: A Framework for Sustainable Engagement. The report is being launched in New York during the UN General Assembly, and offers in-depth recommendations for smart policies that can facilitate private sector involvement in solutions for refugees.

 
To be clear, the idea here is not to start setting up factories in the middle of refugee camps, Cindy assures me in the podcast: “Global businesses with their partners—multilateral partners, other governments—should come up with standards for ethical engagement, a kind of code of conduct.” 

That may sound like extra work, but it’s worth the effort, Huang says: “Refugees become net economic contributors if given . . . rights and support.” 

In terms of solving the refugee crisis, “it’s not a slam dunk,” she tells me. “But we see with the right policy moves and the investment, positive change is possible.”