New York, NY – June 20, 2019 – The Refugee Investment Network (RIN) officially launched on World Refugee Day as the first impact investing and blended finance collaborative dedicated to creating durable solutions to global forced migration. The RIN connects investors with refugee ventures, builds the field of refugee investment, changes the narrative around the contribution of refugees, and advocates for more inclusive economic policies. Ultimately RIN aims to create quality jobs, economic growth, and measurable improvements to the livelihoods of millions of refugees and the communities that host them. “We know well the profound contributions and immense untapped potential forcibly displaced people bring to communities that welcome them,” said RIN Founder and Managing Director John Kluge. “The launch of the RIN, and the growing community of investors representing the full capital continuum, is an important stepping stone to helping the rest of the world see that too.” The RIN was created in response to an expanding refugee crisis that today affects more than 70 million forcibly displaced people worldwide. Refugees face serious challenges, often stemming from underinvestment and backward and restrictive labor laws. Yet, the data show refugees hold enormous untapped potential as innovative and resilient entrepreneurs, and hardworking and loyal employees.
The narrative around refugees is changing. Leading investors are starting to see the reality behind forcibly displaced populations – that they are resilient, resourceful, entrepreneurial, and investable. “Both the magnitude of the crisis and a new appreciation for the corresponding investment opportunity are growing: Investors are looking for a way to invest in and with refugees. The RIN is helping to bridge the gap between refugee investments and the capital they need to grow,” said Tim Docking, RIN Managing Director. To support these efforts, RIN developed the “Refugee Lens,” an investing framework and criteria for sourcing businesses owned by or supporting refugees or their hosts. In addition to mobilizing capital, the RIN is partnering with the Economist Intelligence Unit on the Refugee Opportunity Index (ROI), a new tool to incentivize governments to make policy reforms that support the growth of inclusive economies.
Founding partners behind the RIN include funders – the Landry Family Foundation, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, The Rockefeller Foundation, and USA for UNHCR – and the Global Development Incubator, a non-profit that builds social impact startups. “Refugees are too often overlooked as entrepreneurs worthy of investment. As investors seek opportunities to leverage capital for good, we’re proud to stand with RIN as a founding partner – bringing opportunity and hope to displaced people around the world,” said Anne-Marie Grey, Executive Director of USA for UNHCR.
The RIN’s steering committee includes representatives from organizations including Acumen, Bain Capital Double Impact, BCG, CIOTA, Developing World Markets, Humanitarian Ventures, ImpactAssets, Innovest Advisory, Kiva, OPIC, Pershing Square Foundation, RefugePoint, Village Capital, the Tent Foundation, and the University of Virginia. “The RIN platform allows philanthropists to stand together with development agencies, private investors, and entrepreneurs to support displaced persons to realize their potential – and to support self-reliance and meaningful livelihoods for refugee populations,” said Vilas Dhar, Trustee of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.
For its official launch, the RIN hosted a World Refugee Day convening at The Rockefeller Foundation in New York City. The event included major announcements from RIN partners including Village Capital, Economist Intelligence Unit, 17 Asset Management, Kiva, and the Laudato Si Challenge; featured a venture showcase with pitches from Sparrow Mobile, WorkAround, Holacode, Voxy, and AI Forte; and a fireside lunch conversation with Jesus Seadé, Mexico’s Undersecretary of State for North America. The RIN also collaborated with the Moth to host a storytelling workshop with a select group of refugee entrepreneurs and investors.
”Refugee populations, driven from their homes by climate disasters and ongoing conflict, struggle to access critical infrastructure, like healthcare, education, and clean water—and host-country resources to address these issues are limited. The Rockefeller Foundation is proud to support the RIN in advancing the field of investment products designed specifically for displaced populations,” said Lorenzo Bernasconi, senior associate director at The Rockefeller Foundation.
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