President and CEO of yogurt company "Chobani" and founder of the tent foundation Hamdi Ulukaya speaks at the Creativity For Change Forum, part of Tallinn Music Week in Estonia, on April 1, 2016
President and CEO of yogurt company "Chobani" and founder of the tent foundation Hamdi Ulukaya speaks at the Creativity For Change Forum, part of Tallinn Music Week in Estonia, on April 1, 2016 © Raigo Pajula - AFP
President and CEO of yogurt company
AFP
Last updated: April 3, 2016

Kurdish billionaire calls for entrepreneurs to run refugee camps

Banner Icon A Kurdish migrant to the US who became a billionaire by topping its yoghurt market on Friday called for entrepreneurs to help run refugee camps.

Hamdi Ulukaya, who makes a point of employing refugees at his US-based Chobani yoghurt factories, said business people had a role to play in managing refugee camps because organisations like the United Nations had failed to do it well.

Entrepreneurs "have to bring innovation to this area (refugee camps). What are the modern tools we can bring into the camps to make it more humane and faster?" he told delegates at the Creativity For Change Forum, part of Estonia's Tallinn Music Week.

"If you look at how people have suffered (in) these places... you would think 'why did these institutions not act in time?' That goes not only for the United Nations, but also government level, and the European Union, and NGOs...

"I've not seen so much weakness for a long time. There is so much waste. The UN is not working. It's too dysfunctional, too bureaucratic. The UN has never been so important and has never been so dysfunctional."

Ulukaya also called on people to reassess the way they looked at refugees.

"The word 'refugee' used to mean people who bring science and innovation. Now it means people who bring trouble," said Ulukaya, also the founder of refugee charity Tent.org.

"As entrepreneurs, we have to look at it from a completely different perspective. We need to completely change the system, and rebrand refugees," he said.

"We need to separate the terrorists from those who are terrorised."

Ulukaya, 43, is also a member of the Giving Pledge, a campaign intended to encourage the world's wealthiest business people to share their riches.

Launched by US billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in 2010, Richard Branson, Tim Cook, Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are among its 143 members.

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