UNHCR, Virgin Megastores to support refugee artisans

  • dominique hyde, unhcr and sir richard branson reading the story tags of the syrian refugees in lebanon, who have produced the dolls in hand.
  • karen wazen, interviewing sir richard branson for the launch of made51, at virgin megastore

DUBAI, 15th December, 2019 (WAM) -- UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, and Virgin Megastore on Friday launched their plans to bring MADE51, the brand of home decor and accessories crafted by refugee artisans, to the Middle East.

According to a statement by the UN Refugee Agency, each MADE51 product sold plays a part in supporting refugees to continue their skilled creative work and contribute to their host country’s economy.

"This brilliant partnership will go a long way in helping refugee artisans and entrepreneurs around the world realise their potential, find economic opportunity and rebuild their lives," said Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, marking the MADE51 launch at the Virgin Megastore in Dubai Mall.

A global brand created by UNHCR in 2018, MADE51 is a collaborative initiative designed to connect refugee artisans with markets. MADE51 currently works with 22 local social enterprises in 15 countries. Through the scheme, refugees have an income and can achieve financial independence, using their valuable skills, traditions and heritage.

"Only with a genuine demand for refugee artisans’ products, and access to markets, will we enable these skilled refugees to earn a livelihood. This is why the partnership between MADE51 and Virgin Megastore is so significant," said Dominique Hyde, Director of External Relations at UNHCR.

The worldwide multi-billion artisan sector is expected to grow significantly in coming years. Virgin Megastore is the first UNHCR partner to stock the MADE51 product range and will offer significant growth for the brand.

"We are proud to be partnering with UNHCR, and we are delighted to offer our platform to the amazing group of refugee artisans connected with this initiative. The products are beautiful, and we cannot wait for our customers to come discover them and the stories behind them," said Marwan Hert, President at Virgin Megastore MENA.

UNHCR also engages with numerous other private sector partners to provide support with business development, branding, communications and logistics. It is a unique and sustainable model of collaboration as each social enterprise works directly with refugee artisans to create a special collection that is sold alongside the enterprise’s existing line.

There are currently over 70 million forcibly displaced people around the world.

 

WAM/Nour Salman