Tools & Resources

Migrant, Immigrant, and Refugee Lens Investing: Ideas and Strategies

In the midst of America's 2018 immigration policy crisis, many foundations have acted quickly to express their support, engage their communities, and deepen associated programmatic commitments. We have compiled a variety of impact investing resources and examples for foundations seeking to align more assets with their values when it comes to immigration, migration, and refugees. Please email Laila Hussain if you have additional resources to share.
This page draws on the concept of “lens investing" to surface a variety of examples demonstrating how investments can affect immigrants, migrants, and refugees. Lens-based investing is the process of incorporating issues affecting a certain population or topic area into investment decisions. Similar to gender lens investing, applying a migrant, immigrant, and refugee lens may help investors examine the needs of these individuals from multiple angles and analyze how issues affecting them show up across all of their investments. It is important to note that the examples of investments and approaches below may not stem from proactively applying a migrant, immigrant, or refugee-related lens to make decisions. 

Investing in Tailored Products or Services and Investing in Underserved Communities

Foundations are investing in a variety of programs tailored to meet the needs of immigrant communities. For example, the Massachusetts Pathways to Economic Advancement Pay for Success project, supported by several MIE members, includes literacy and job training programs to support individuals with limited English skills. Also, this report by Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees analyzes several loan programs for young immigrants who qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
A recent report by the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation at Georgetown University and the World Education Services Mariam Assefa Fund explores ways in which catalytic financing tools could increase and adapt capital to advance the training and development of entry-level essential workers who are immigrants, migrants or refugees.
Others tailored investments are localized, place-based efforts to meet the needs of certain neighborhoods. As an example, click here to learn more about MacArthur Foundation's investment in support of a failing savings & loan in Little Village, Chicago, a predominantly Latinx community. Additional areas where impact investing may support immigrant communities include:
  • Supporting financial services for underserved populations, such as through credit unions and CDFIs. 
  • Fostering responsible lending to immigrant borrowers, who are more at risk from predatory lenders. 

Immigrants as Investors — and Investees

Foundations and other investors are recognizing refugees and immigrants as an opportunity for profitable investment:
  • Engaging immigrants as investors and providing them with investment opportunities that cater to their specific needs and investment goals. Click here to learn about Calvert Impact Capital's strategy of working with immigrant investors.
  • Investing in migrants, immigrants, and refugees as entrepreneurs. Click here for a compilation of foundations and other investors involved in this work.

Screening and Shareholder Engagement Strategies

Foundations and other investors align their values with their investments in a variety of ways, from using their voices as shareholders to screening (positively or negatively) their investments. 
  • Examining corporate behavior when it comes to forced labor, human rights violations in the supply chain, and exploitation of undocumented immigrants.
  • Divesting from corporations that run private prisons — some of which also run immigrant detention centers. Learn more about these corporations herehere and here.

Resources on Migrant Lens Investing

In this article in Stanford Social Innovation Review, author Heather Hachikian discusses how applying a migrant lens can help investors to identify untapped investment opportunities in migrant-owned businesses while also providing migrants with access to capital, a common challenge for immigrants, migrants, and refugees who do not have investor networks or sufficient credit history. The author's website, Finance for Integration, explores multiple ways in which investors can engage in supporting migrants. 


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