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  • Writer's pictureVeena

Reflections from 2019

This year brought a great deal of joy for us, creating partnerships and meeting refugees. With every encounter, I can’t help but think about Flore and her experience. I wonder about the stories she listened to and the people she engaged while in refugee camps and among displaced people around the world. I bet those tales sounded a lot like the ones I hear.

Girls coping with a magnitude of loss most adults never face.

Young women dreaming of receiving an education without a fight.

Mothers managing the role of caretaker, nurturer, and provider with next to nothing.

Grandmothers wishing they could bring peace and safety for future generations to come.

These interactions reinforce notions that displaced people are risk-takers, innovators, generous and openminded. Many do not speak the local language and certainly know little of the nuances of American culture, yet they learn quickly and adapt without hesitation. Perhaps the tumult in their lives brings an ability to be mailable and overcome adversity. Each person reveals a unique journey with common themes of loss and suffering. Moreover, they include acts of grace and kindness, generosity and perseverance. I recall Flore retold these stories not only with words, but also through good deeds. These stories illustrate true resilience displayed by refugees and humanitarians like Flore.

This characteristic of resilience drives refugees to overcome all odds and rebuild their lives. Many face debt, obstacles to employment (especially in a field where they may be an expert), language barriers, transportation challenges and a cultural unfamiliarity. However, after the arduous undertaking of resettling, these people persevere. In economic terms, small and medium-sized business growth is driven by these migrants. With nothing left to lose, they are more likely to take on a venture. A study by the New American Economy reported that in 2015 there were 181,463 refugee entrepreneurs in the United States equaling $4.6 billion in total business income. Refugees accounted for 13% entrepreneurs in the United States compared to 9% U.S.-born business owners.[1] For several communities like Erie, Pennsylvania, strategic planning related to economic growth depends on refugee resettlement. In Michigan, refugees are accredited with over $1 billion annually in spending and $130.8 million in state and local taxes each year.[2] There is no doubt that it is in the self-interest of local economies to support refugee entrepreneurs.

Looking forward to 2020, I will hear many more accounts from refugees. Unfortunately, global issues leading to protracted displacement are growing. We as a society have a responsibility to humanity to build local communities that are welcoming and safe. Around the world, refugees resettling in our cities and towns bring a wealth of creativity and innovation, depth in experience and ethos. Therefore, we at Flore Foundation believe in empowering refugees seeking economic independence. Our grants make it possible for social entrepreneurs to advance self-sustainability for refugees and we need your help to expand our reach. Please consider your contribution this holiday season and we thank you for your generosity and continued support!

[1] “From Struggle to Resilience: The Economic Impact of Refugees in America.” New American Economy Research Fund,

[2] “The Economic Impact of Refugees in America.” Global Detroit,

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