The Jordan River Foundation (JRF) is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization that advocates for social justice, poverty alleviation, and economic independence of Jordanians and refugees. In 2019, they made a pledge at the first Global Refugee Forum to empower both refugees and host community members through economic growth and job opportunities.
Jordan hosts the second highest share of refugees per capita in the world, with over 82% of refugees living outside of camp, in an urban area. The rapid influx over the last 10 years has put a considerable strain on Jordan’s infrastructures and resources. Forcibly displaced people having access to stable and legal work in their host country means that they will not have to rely as much on the State or humanitarian assistance to survive.
Video: IKEA - Co-creating change in Jordan
As part of an innovative partnership with IKEA, Jordan River Foundation’s pledge at the GRF aims at creating jobs for low-income Jordanian and Syrian women, fostering cross-cultural understanding, encouraging self-confidence and skill development. Each beneficiary employed by the program receives full-time employment, hands-on training, a work permit, health insurance, and social security. As a result of this partnership, refugees and host community members work together to produce IKEA products that are sold around the world.
In addition, JRF has two other livelihoods initiatives for refugees and Jordanians alike: Jordan River Design, which focuses on handicrafts, and Al Karma Kitchen, which focuses on food processing. Going above and beyond their pledge for the year, the Jordan River Foundation trained and employed 572 vulnerable women in 2021: 318 through IKEA, 119 through Jordan River Design, and 147 through Al Karma Kitchen. JRF plans to continue to seek new partnerships with suppliers similar to IKEA in the future, to be able to hire more people.
Through sustainable and stable jobs and income, both refugees and host community members can become more self-reliant. In the short-term, this reduces poverty and improves relationships between both communities. In the long-term, livelihood opportunities like the ones offered by the Jordan River Foundation increase the likelihood of refugees finding durable solutions. By remaining self-reliant and developing skills, people forced to flee are better prepared to return to their country of origin, integrate in their country of asylum, or resettle in a third country.