Lagardère supports refugees with UNHCR-backed pop-up in Geneva

By Kristiane Sherry |

The MADE51 pop-up will educate passengers as well as stock refugee-made products

Retailer Lagardère Travel Retail Switzerland and UN Refugee Agency’s local partner Switzerland for UNHCR have opened a MADE51 pop-up store at Geneva airport, showcasing a range of refugee-made products.

The store, which opened on 27 February in the airport’s East wing, will educate passengers about UNHCR’s work and the realities faced by refugees. 

It also gives them the opportunity to support forcibly displaced people by buying their products.

MADE51 is a mission-driven brand founded by UNHCR which connects artisan refugees with international markets.

More than 103 million people have been forcibly displaced around the world. MADE51 currently works with 35 local social enterprises in 23 refugee-hosting countries. The organisation enables makers to use their valuable skills and traditions to earn an income. 

‘Urgent need’ to include refugees

“Our collaboration with UNHCR means a lot to us, especially in these troubled times,” said Pascal le Droff, Lagardère Travel Retail Switzerland CEO.

“The war in Ukraine and the earthquake in Türkiye and Syria require a strong solidarity. We want to play our part to help refugees and highlight the urgent need to include them in the global value chain.” 

(L-R) Pascal le Droff, Cédric Anker, Dominique Hyde and André Schneider open the pop-up

Cristina Davies, Executive Director of Switzerland for UNHCR, added: “For the next six months, passengers at Geneva airport will have the opportunity to buy a variety of products made by artisans, including home décor, dolls, and fashion accessories. In addition, the booth also features brochures and an activity table for children. 

“We also thank the wonderful volunteers that will provide information, on-site, about UNHCR’s mission and MADE51 products during the weekend. The pop-up store allows travellers to learn about the experiences of those who have also travelled, but against their will and with no guarantee of ever returning home.” 

Refugee education initiatives

Last year, Lagardère Travel Retail and Switzerland for UNHCR teamed up to support the The DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative) programme, enabling refugees to access higher education. 

Through topping up payments at check-out, shoppers could sponsor young refugees to continue their education. 

Travellers will be able to buy pieces made by refugee artisans

UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Maya Ghazal’s story shows how important it is for refugees to continue their education. 

After fleeing Syria, she spent a few nights in a hotel close to Heathrow Airport. It was there that she realised she wanted to be a pilot. Since finishing her studies she’s become the first Syrian refugee woman pilot. 

Last year, Frédéric Chevalier, Regional COO and Member of the Executive Committee at Lagardère Travel Retail, described the war in Ukraine as “catastrophic”.

Since then, Lagardère Travel Retail has supported the relief efforts in Ukraine and neighbouring countries, raising CHF 70,000/US$75,000 for UNHCR programmes in the region. 

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