By Julia La Roche
Billionaire George Soros, the chairman and founder of the Open Society Foundations, pledged up to $500 million of his own private capital to aid the global crisis of forced migration.
“I’m a refugee myself,” Soros said at the Concordia Summit in New York. Soros was a teenager when the Nazis occupied Hungary. He moved to London in 1947.
“In those days, there were fewer of us around and we were better treated,” he said.
The 86-year-old hedge fund manager pointed out that the current refugee crisis is new, but economic migration has been going on forever.
He considers the refugee and migration crisis “the most pressing problem,” and it’s one of his top priorities. His pledge of $500 million is his answer to President Barack Obama’s “call to action” for US companies to play a bigger role in meeting the challenges posed by refugees and migration.
The money Soros pledged will be used to invest in startups, companies, social impact initiatives and businesses started by refugees. The investments will be held by Soros’ non-profit organization, and the profits will fund Open Society Foundation programs, including ones that benefit refugees.
His plan to solve the refugee crisis is built on his seven pillars that include:
- The European Union (EU) must take on a substantial number of refugees directly from front-line countries in a secure orderly way. This will be far more acceptable than the current disorder.
- The EU must regain control of its borders. There is little that scares and alienates the public more than scenes of chaos.
- The EU must have a way to generate economic growth. We estimate refugees will require $30 billion a year for several years. The plan explains the benefits of what he calls “surge funding.”
- The EU must build a common mechanism to protect borders.
- We need a voluntary matching mechanism to relocate refugees. The EU can’t coerce EU states to accept refugees they don’t want. Canada sets a standard. This shows how far the EU has to go.
- The EU must offer far greater support to countries outside its borders that host large numbers of refugees. It must be more generous to Africa. It must offer genuine grand bargain, creating jobs in African countries where some migrants originate, which would reduce the number that wants to migrate.
- Create a welcoming environment for migrants. All evidence shows migrants can contribute significantly to innovation and development if they are given the chance to do so.
Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance.