'Marketplace' platform for NGO - private sector collaboration on refugee assistance

Richard Towle  © Marvin Kho


Kuala Lumpur (UNHCR), 8 July 2017 - UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, organized here today a ‘Marketplace’ event, in conjunction with World Refugee Day 2017. The ‘Marketplace’, a networking space for anyone keen to support projects that help refugees in Malaysia.

Held at Makespace at Quill City Mall, in conjunction with World Refugee Day, the ‘Marketplace’ aims to connect the private sector directly with Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) who are running assistance programmes for refugees in areas of health, education, livelihoods, and protection.

The ‘Marketplace’ idea was conceptualized following a growing need for support for NGOs working to help refugees, and an increasing interest among private sector to find ways of channeling assistance towards refugee welfare.

Currently, dozens of NGOs in Malaysia run programmes aimed at providing welfare assistance and support to refugee communities and strengthening the communities’ ability to be self-reliant and independent.

The ‘Marketplace’ showcases these projects, and allows private sector companies and individuals to network with the organisations running these programmes for the purposes of providing support.

Over 26 NGOs participated in this event, which over 20 refugee artisans were also present to showcase their artisanal products in an art bazaar held at the same time.

The NGOs featured at the ‘Marketplace’ included organisations involved in educational programmes for refugee children such as Fugee School, IDEAS Academy, Dignity For Children Foundation, and Future Global; NGOs working in the area of livelihood such as NAWEM, Tanma Women, and MSRI; NGOs working in health such as Health Equity Initiatives and ACTS; and many others.

The Marketplace event was held on Saturday, 8 July 2017, at Makespace, Quill City Mall, Jalan Sultan Ismail, Kuala Lumpur, from 10.30am - 4.30pm.


Event components:

  • Marketplace where over a dozen NGOs working on refugee assistance programmes showcased their projects in areas of health, education, livelihoods, community empowerment, and protection.
  • A Refugee Art Bazaar

Over 20 refugee artisans showcased their artisanal products skillfully made through various livelihoods and women’s empowerment programmes. These were on sale, and the artisans were available to speak to any interested private sector company/individuals interested in supporting them. 100% proceeds go the refugee artisans themselves.

The products include:

  • Artisanal handicraft items like handmade bags, loom-woven traditional cloths, leather-bound notebooks, accessories, organic perfumes, bath oils, and soap;
  • Food items like middle eastern deserts and Rohingya sambal and samosa
  • Services such as Somali Henna Tattoo, and tailoring and catering (to order)


Refugee statistics:

As of end May 2017, there are some 150,200 refugees and asylum-seekers registered with UNHCR in Malaysia.

  • Some 133,700 are from Myanmar, comprising some 58,600 Rohingyas, 39,000 Chins, 10,200 Myanmar Muslims, 4,300 Rakhines & Arakanese, and other ethnicities from Myanmar.
  • There are some 16,500 refugees and asylum-seekers from other countries, including some 3,500 Pakistanis, 2,300 Sri Lankans, 2,100 Yemenis, 2,000 Somalis, 2,000 Syrians, 1,500 Iraqis, 1,100 Afghans, 700 Palestinians, and others from other countries.
  • Some 67% of refugees and asylum-seekers are men, while 33% are women.
  • There are some 36,800 children below the age of 18.


About World Refugee Day:

World Refugee Day is celebrated worldwide on 20 June to recognise the courage of refugees in rebuilding their lives despite the horrors they have faced, and to create awareness and garner public support for creating a humanitarian space for refugees.

This year, World Refugee Day will be commemorated in Malaysia through a unique event to connect corporate and private sector support directly to refugee projects. This is the first time that such an event has been held.