How it works

How it works

Bringing beautiful refugee-made
products to the global market.

Today, there are over 82.4 million people that have been forcibly displaced by war, violence, disaster and persecution.

One of the most effective ways refugees can rebuild their lives with dignity is through the opportunity to work and earn a living.

 To create that opportunity in the handmade sector, MADE51 is bringing artisanal home décor and accessories, crafted by refugees, to global markets.

Through MADE51, refugee artisans earn income making handcrafted products that showcase their skills and cultural heritage. This allows them to support themselves, contribute to their host country’s economy, and restore their dignity and freedom.

MADE51 is an initiative of UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, active since 2018.

Our goals


Connecting refugees & local social enterprises 

Through UNHCR’s vast network of field operations in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and South America, we identify groups of refugees with artisanal skills or interests who want an opportunity to work

We link these groups with social enterprise partners in or near the artisans’ communities. These social enterprise partners work in the artisanal sector and have proven experience in design, production management, export, and marketing.

In collaboration, social enterprise partners and refugee artisan groups create unique MADE51 products that the social enterprise sells alongside their existing collections. As MADE51 grows, these businesses grow too, enabling them to make greater investments in local communities and build social cohesion between refugees and host communities.

UNHCR helps foster successful, sustainable collaborations by offering seed funding, technical support, and a global marketing platform for the refugee-made products.

 Meet our social enterprise partners & artisan groups.


Ensuring Fair Trade with WFTO 

In partnership with the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO), MADE51 sets the ethical compliance standards that social enterprise partners must meet in their work with refugees. This ensures that each artisan receives a fair wage, has decent working conditions and that the 10 principles of Fair Trade are met.

MADE51 understands the importance for buyers of having assurance that the goods they source are ethically produced. This is likewise of paramount importance for UNHCR: Because of UNHCR’s mandate, UNHCR must be assured that refugee protection and Fair Trade practices will be upheld.

UNHCR field staff and WFTO routinely monitor workplace practices and guide social enterprise partners towards the Fair Trade certification process

Building strategic partnerships with the private sector 

To make MADE51 a reality and ensure refugee-made products can compete on international markets, UNHCR relies on private sector companies and development actors to engage as Strategic Partners. 

Utilising their core business expertise, Strategic Partners refine and support the development of the MADE51 model and strengthen the linkages between refugees, social enterprise partners and global markets.

Learn more about our Strategic Partnerships & new partner opportunities