IrisGuard biometrics cited as example for companies to increase refugee opportunities

IrisGuard is among a handful of companies playing a role in creating opportunities for refugees and displaced persons, according to a new study by the IFC (International Finance Corporation). The study suggests that the private sector is positioned to create jobs and economic opportunities for refugees, and that 60 percent of companies participating in initiatives focused on refugees and host communities in Africa and the Middle East expect to deepen their refugee-related engagements in the coming years.

In partnership with The Bridgespan Group, the IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, examined more than 170 private sector initiatives for the Private Sector and Refugees: Pathways to Scale study. It found forcibly displaced persons often spend years in host countries, and require jobs, financial services, and skills training.

The IFC supports a program in which biometric iris recognition and Ethereum blockchain technology from IrisGuard are used for cash access and payments by Syrian refugees in Jordan. The UNHCR has also enrolled 650,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan with IrisGuard technology.

“As forced displacement becomes increasingly protracted, longer-term development solutions must supplement humanitarian aid,” says Sérgio Pimenta, IFC’s Vice President for the Middle East and Africa. “This new study reveals how the private sector can play an important role by engaging refugees as employees, employers, producers, and customers—and identifies ways to scale up these projects so that refugees can make greater economic contributions to their host communities, while becoming more self-reliant.”

“This is about creating solutions that work for real problems, serving forcibly displaced refugees in a time of crisis,” says IrisGuard Founder Imad Malhas.

The study also found that the impact private firms have on refugees can be scaled up through innovative financial tools and products, such as venture capital approaches, cross-sector partnerships, and improved market information access.

The UNHCR is currently scaling up its own biometric ID provision efforts for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh.

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