Leaders from award-winning companies join Tent founder Hamdi Ulukaya, and Moderna co-founder, for World Refugee Week Event 

To mark World Refugee Week, Tent hosted “Recognizing Refugee Talent,” a virtual event to celebrate the critical role of businesses in integrating refugees into their new communities. 

Moderated by Chair and CEO of D and Z Media Acquisition Corp, Betty Liu, the event kicked off with Tent Founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, and  Dr. Noubar Afeyan, Co-Founder and Chairman of Moderna, discussing how their own refugee and immigrant experiences shaped their paths to success.

Reflecting on the entrepreneurial spirit of refugees, Afeyan said, “The reason (refugees) are more drawn to innovation, taking more risks – they are adaptable, they have motivation because they have no entitlement. They have been given a second chance at life, and that’s so motivating. Don’t underestimate the motivation of a second chance.”

Ulukaya linked this back to his own journey, and how hiring refugees at Chobani’s first plant in upstate New York inspired him to start Tent. He encouraged other businesses to join Tent and consider how they can also integrate refugees: “When businesses come in a meaningful way, not by checking the box, change happens in a powerful way,” said Ulukaya.

Following the fireside chat, Liu announced the winners of Tent’s first-ever Business For Refugees awards. Executives from the winning companies – including Joe Gebbia, Co-founder of Airbnb and Chairman of Airbnb.org; Matthew McCarthy, CEO of Ben & Jerry’s; Lena Pripp-Kovac, Chief Sustainability Officer; and Juan Carlos Hincapié, CEO & President, Teleperformance IberoLatam – shared the unique programs that each company has developed to embed refugee inclusion into their core business operations, and highlighted ways their companies have benefited from taking up this cause.

Speaking about Airbnb.org’s award-winning Open Homes program, Gebbia said that the program – aimed at ensuring refugees have safe accomodations when they first arrive in a new country – has been transformational for refugees and hosts alike. He then announced the launch of Airbnb.org’s new $25 million Refugee Fund that will allow the organization to expand its support of refugees and asylum seekers worldwide. Gebbia committed to making an initial personal $5 million contribution to kick-off the fund.

Liu then announced that 24 new companies – including Gap Inc., PayPal, and Sony –  joined the Tent Partnership, demonstrating the growing support within the business community to champion refugees around the world. The program closed with Stanley Tang, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at DoorDash, who accepted the award for his company’s outstanding leadership in storytelling about refugee integration.

To learn more about the Business for Refugees award winners, or the newest Tent members, view the press release here or watch a full recording of the event below.

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