A gift from a refugee

Richard Branson holding up Made51 Christmas ornaments made by refugees
Kami White
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 27 November 2023

MADE51 is a brilliant UNHCR initiative that creates economic opportunities and livelihoods for refugees by bringing their craftmanship to the world. We’ve been proud to support MADE51 at Virgin for many years now by stocking the beautiful artisan products in Virgin Megastore, on board Virgin Atlantic and on Virgin Red, too.

We know how much resilience, talent, and entrepreneurial energy refugees bring to every situation they face. With MADE51, UNHCR created a platform that allows refugees to harness their skills, uphold their artisanal traditions, and connect to the global market. The items you can purchase are beautiful and of exquisite quality. They include Christmas baubles intricately embroidered by Syrian refugees, colourful baskets crafted by Burundian refugees living in Rwanda, and lamp shades made by Malian refugees living in Burkina Faso.

Image from Virgin Megastore
Image from Virgin Megastore

The global refugee crisis has been one of the defining challenges of our time, and if you are unsure how you can help, buying a gift from MADE51 is a good way to start. Every time someone buys a MADE51 product, a refugee directly earns an income and gains a renewed sense of purpose and independence. As Bibi, an Afghan refugee in Pakistan who sells through MADE51, said: "I get paid for the work that I do and I am able to earn a living for my children. That's the biggest positive change I have achieved. The fact that I am able to afford food for my family also makes me very proud. It has given a boost to the women in my community, now they want to earn too."

Every product tells a moving story. The story of someone putting their child on an overcrowded ship because it feels safer than the land route, or of someone trying to hold on to their culture and identity while building a new life, and of entire families with who had to walk away from everything they’ve ever known. Every single one of these products reminds us that refugees are people with talents, hopes, and aspirations, not statistics.

Virgin Red
Virgin Red

It made me really happy to hear that Virgin Red’s MADE51 Christmas decorations for this year have almost sold out already, but you can still pick up the remaining stock [LINK]. The Virgin Atlantic stock can be purchased inflight, but also online. And if you’re in the Middle East, Virgin Megastore’s stock can be found online and in stores. Otherwise, you can find the full collection here.

If you’re looking for additional ways to help refugees rebuild their lives, The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network (TERN) in the UK is another brilliant organisation offering business mentoring and support to refugees.

Image from Virgin Megastores
Image from Virgin Megastores

It’s inspiring to see how both MADE51 and TERN are providing sustainable models for social and economic inclusion of refugees. This is key to addressing displacement in a viable and humane way and to fostering inclusion. Business can play a key role in this – for instance by recruiting and training refugees, by integrating refugee-led enterprises in their supply chains, or simply by speaking up for refugees.

Head over to UNHRC to find more ways to help refugees build a better future.

Consider joining the Tent Partnership for Refugees, the world’s largest business-led network supporting refugees.