Private Sector Solutions in Forced Displacement &endash; A joint initiative of IFC and UNHCR

IFC UNHCR Joint Initiative

Private Sector Solutions in Forced Displacement Contexts

Global forced displacement figures have surpassed 114 million by the end of September 2023. These individuals have been driven from their homes by war, persecution, violence, and human rights violations. Over 74% of them have sought refuge in low- and middle-income countries, compounding existing fragility with the dual challenges of forced displacement and limited resources.

Given the escalating numbers and persistent trends, addressing forced displacement today requires a refocus towards resilience and sustainability. Acknowledging the dangers of relying solely on emergency and humanitarian aid, UNHCR and partners are advocating for a whole-of-society approach.

Officially launched in December 2022, a partnership was created between the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) called the IFC UNHCR joint initiative, aimed at facilitating private sector solutions in forced displacement contexts. Leveraging over 60 years of IFC's expertise in fostering private investment and market creation, combined with UNHCR's commitment to safeguarding rights and building a better future for forcibly displaced individuals and host communities, the initiative seeks to enhance sustainable economic solutions through private sector engagement. The private sector has proven to play a crucial role involving the promotion of financial inclusion, tailored services, employment, and entrepreneurship for displaced populations and hosts, addressing immediate challenges and contributing to sustainable economic progress by accessing new markets and diverse talent pools.

IFC, the private sector arm of the World Bank, has more than 60 years of experience in unlocking private investment and creating markets and opportunities where they are needed most.

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for people forced to flee their homes because of conflict and persecution and leads international action to protect refugees, forcibly displaced communities and stateless people.

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Our Main Objectives

The IFC UNHCR Joint Initiative aims to:


Create inclusive economic opportunities

for people affected by forced displacement by designing, funding, and piloting innovative, impactful, and scalable private sector solutions.

Establish thought leadership

on private sector development in forced displacement contexts by building a knowledge base of operational lessons and encouraging knowledge exchange among key players in the field.

Relevant Examples

IFC and UNHCR have been collaborating since 2016, in different geographies and across various sectors to improve the lives of those forcibly displaced and their hosts.

This interactive map features projects that leverage private sector engagements in forced displacement contexts, including financial inclusion, tailored services, employment, and entrepreneurship.

In Focus

NEW Baseline Study on Private Sector Engagements in forced displacement contexts

‘From Host Communities to Growth Communities’

Supported by Boston Consulting Group, this study follows up on the 2018 ‘Pathways to Scale’ report, assessing the current state of private sector initiatives and business engagements in the complex landscape of forced displacement contexts. The findings serve as a benchmark and pave the way for opportunities to foster more substantial and meaningful local economic development within contexts marked by forced displacement.

Commissioned by the IFC UNHCR Joint Initiative, the study utilizes a comprehensive approach, encompassing 80 stakeholder interviews, a literature review, and social listening analysis. The results uncover seven trends in private sector engagement, six prevalent business models, and four pending roadblocks. These insights are pivotal for shaping future strategies aimed at fostering local economic development in forced displacement contexts, ultimately transforming host communities into growth communities.

The report is forthcoming.