Summary of The Rise of the Refugee Startup

Looking for the video?
We have the summary! Get the key insights in just 5 minutes.

The Rise of the Refugee Startup summary


8 Overall

8 Importance

9 Innovation

8 Style


Economist Films travels to the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan, which hosts 80,000 people who’ve fled the Syrian War. Within the camp walls, the documentarians find something remarkable: a thriving entrepreneurial community. Zaatari’s 3,000 informal shops and businesses generate millions of dollars every month – proof that refugees are a tremendous, often untapped resource. getAbstract recommends this short, inspiring film to business professionals, human-rights activists and policy makers.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How entrepreneurism is thriving in Jordan’s Zaatari refugee camp, and
  • Why governments and policy makers should empower long-term refugees to work.

About the Speaker

Economist Films produces documentaries that investigate economic, social and political issues.



The Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq, Jordan, hosts 80,000 people and is growing faster than any other refugee camp. Operating the camp costs the United Nations about £300,000 ($417,990) per day. Residents receive daily bread rations and a small monthly food allowance. Most camp residents can’t leave; nor can they hold a job unless they land an official position to help run the camp or work for an on-site NGO. However, camp officials look the other way when industrious refugees start their own businesses. In the absence of regulation, some 3,000 informal start-ups and shops are operating in Zaatari. These businesses prove that markets can develop even in extreme conditions. Take the example of Kaseem, a refugee from Daraa, Syria, who has lived in the camp for five years. In Syria, he was an auto mechanic. In Zaatari, he owns a bike shop. The Dutch have donated many old, functioning bikes to Zaatari’s residents. Kaseem’s operation transforms the bikes into shiny, customized machines. Young people flock to his store to personalize their rides. Kaseem’s business model “would impress any management consultant.” Moreover, the work helps him stave off idleness while enabling him to support his family.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

By the same author

Customers who read this summary also read

More by category