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Supporting Syrian Diaspora Business

  • Starts: Feb 27, 2017
  • Ends: Feb 28, 2017
  • Location: Eschborn, Germany
  • By: GIZ, WB, IOM and CMI
  • Context/ Rationale

    Syria has faced one of the worst humanitarian crises since the 21st century with over 11.5 million people displaced and over 12.2 million people in need of humanitarian assistance. The Syrian diaspora is playing an important role in supporting the refugees and the reconstruction of Syria. Development partners have a strong commitment to finding ways of supporting Syrian refugees and would like to support these efforts. Over the years, the diaspora has been recognized as first movers for economic recovery and reconstruction during or after a conflict or crisis. Evidence has been seen in countries such as Nepal, Palestine, Haiti and Rwanda. Through means such as remittances, skills transfer, diaspora connected FDI, diaspora entrepreneurship, heritage tourism & nostalgia trade, philanthropy, volunteerism and advocacy.


    In order to analyze the contribution of the Syrian community, consultations with the Syrian diaspora business community were conducted in ten countries and thirteen cities. The consultations aimed to accomplish the following objectives: i) identify the major incentives and challenges hindering diaspora enabled development; ii) assess the willingness of the Syrian diaspora to invest either in a refugee oriented initiative in the host communities or to invest for the future reconstruction of Syria; iii) gather actionable feedbacks that would help in designing inclusive solutions; iv) engage and encourage commitment from the Syrian community as development partners; v) collate information on already existing or planned initiatives so as to avoid redundancies and; vi) identify the unique opportunities and challenges that women and youth face.



    The forum will take stock of the key findings from the consultation meetings and aims to: 

    • Develop a database of Syrian diaspora investors and businesses as well as other key players; 
    • Initiate dialogue and strengthen network and engagements with key stakeholders;
    • Facilitate knowledge sharing around sustainable opportunities for investments, new markets, skills transfer, sustainable partnerships and lessons. 



    Concept Summary




    Interview with Ola Hisou, Consultant, Trade and Competitiveness Department, The World Bank


    Interview with HE Yarub Qudah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan


    Partcipants' Presentations


    Welcome Address 


    Mrs. Ilse Hahn, Head, Policy issues migration and forced displacement,

    German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

    Program overview

    Benjamin Herzberg, Program Lead, World Bank Group


    Development response to the Syrian crisis – the role of the Private sector


    and other stakeholders -Panel discussion

    Moderator: Line Rifai, Business Editor, Economist, France 24



    - Klaus Tilmes, Director, World Bank Group

    - Andreas Proksch, Director General, Sector and Global Programmes Department,

      Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH

    - Gervais Appave, Special Advisor to the Director General, International Organization for Migration

    - HE Yarub Qudah, Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply, The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

    - Mumtaz Daaboul, General Manager, Orbit Aluminum Industries


    Opportunities for Syrian Investors


    Speaker: Mukhallad Omari, Secretary General, Jordan Investment Commission (JIC), Invest in Jordan - Supporting the Syrian Refugees Employment


    Global experiences on facilitating diaspora engagement -Panel discussion


    Moderator: Sonia Plaza, Senior Economist and Co-chair diaspora KNOMAD, (Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development), World Bank Group, Mobilizing Diaspora Resources as Agents of Social and Economic Change




    - Tauhid Pasha, Senior Specialist, International Organization for Migration (IOM)

    - Valerie Wolff, Project Manager, Migration and Development, International Centre

       for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD)

    - Nora Jasmin Ragab, PhD Fellow Maastricht Graduate School of Governance, UNU Merit


    A snapshot of the Syrian Diaspora Findings


    Speaker: John Speakman, Advisor, World Bank Group, The Syrian Business Diaspora: A World Bank Investigation on their Present Situation and Future Aspirations


    Open discussion: Challenges and Opportunities


    Moderator: Benjamin Herzberg, Program Lead, World Bank Group


    - What are the challenges of implementing policies for engaging with the diaspora?


    - How are diaspora initiatives implemented in the field?


    - How to create opportunities and clear obstacles for diaspora to contribute?


    My Story, Your Story Lightning Talks

    Moderator: Line Rifai, Business Editor, Economist, France 24

    Stories by:    


    - Massa Mufti, Co-Founder & Chair Sonbola Group for Education and Development, My Story, Your Story “Why Education Matters?

    - The Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), SAMS Foundation

    - Mazen Iebado, Manager, Afak food processing, Jordan

    - Samer Shamsi Pasha, Vice president, International Humanitarian Relief

    - Rami Sharak, Deputy Executive Director, Syrian Economic Forum (SEF)

    - Ahmad Sufian Bayram, MEA regional manager, Techstars global ecosystem LLC


    Conclusion of the day: Main takeaways

    Klaus Tilmes, Director, World Bank Group


    Day 2 –  Coordinating actions and networks: Ideas to Action – Developing structures for Syrian diaspora engagement


    Strengthening links between Syrian Diaspora business and host country’s private sector


    -Panel discussion, hosted by GIZ

    Moderator: Arno Tomowski, Head of Corporate Ventures, Coordinator Refugee and Migration Issues, GIZ




    - Dirk Palige, Managing Director, German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH)

    - Salah Husseini – Manager, BSR (Business for Social Responsibility)

    - Salah Isayyied, Founder/CEO, International HuMan Power

    - Rama Chakaki, Co-founder,


    Speed Dating: 8 Syrian diaspora initiatives


    -Learning activity


    • Table 1: The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
    • Table 2: International Rescue Committee (IRC) 
    • Table 3: Asfari Foundation
    • Table 4: Jusoor Foundation 
    • Table 5: Maram Foundation for Relief & Development 
    • Table 6: Abwab Newspaper(“Doors”) - a newspaper by refugees and for refugees   Hani Hareb, CEO, ABWAB 
    • Table 7: WANA Institute  (West Asia North Africa Institute)
    • Table 8: BINAA Organization for Development  
    • Table 9: Hanan Foundation for Education


    Shall we create a “Syrian Diaspora Business Chamber of Commerce”? -Group discussion

    Moderator: Benjamin Herzberg, Program Lead, World Bank Group


    Develop operational action plan Team work

    Moderator: Benjamin Herzberg, Program Lead, World Bank Group



    • Group 1: Structure and organization of “Syrian Diaspora Business Chamber of Commerce”

                          Facilitated by John Speakman, Advisor, World Bank Group

    • Group 2: MSME development support programs

                          Facilitated by Salah Husseini, Manager, BSR (Business for Social Responsibility)

    • Group 3: Refugee emergency support programs

                          Facilitated by Maha Katta, Crisis Response Coordinator, International Labor Organization

    • Group 4: Youth and gender programs

                          Facilitated by Mourad Ezzine, Manager, Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI), World Bank Group

    • Group 5: Financial, Banking and Investment programs

                          Facilitated by Laurent Gonnet, Lead Financial Sector Specialist, World Bank Group


    Develop operational action plan Team work (continued)

    Moderator: Benjamin Herzberg, Program Lead, World Bank Group


    - Report from each group

    - Q&A for each group

    - Compilation of each action plan into a single document to be distributed to all participants

    - Adoption of the Action Plan


    Closing Remarks – The Way Forward

    Moderator: John Speakman, Advisor, World Bank Group




    Event in Photos