Summary of The Rise of the Refugee Startup

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  • Innovative
  • Eye Opening
  • Inspiring


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.

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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...

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