Hedge fund billionaire George Soros said on Tuesday that he is giving $500 million of his nonprofit organization’s funds to be invested on work opportunities for migrants and refugees, especially those arriving into Europe.
Soros’ announcement, made in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, comes as the United Nations convenes for its General Assembly in New York City. On Monday it hosted its first forum for Heads of State to discuss how to handle what’s been dubbed the world’s biggest refugee and migrant crisis since World War II. According to the U.N., 65.3 million people have been displaced from their homes by conflict and persecution in 2015. Since the crisis escalated last year, Europe has been struggling with how to handle the inflow of migrants.
“I will invest in startups, established companies, social-impact initiatives and businesses founded by migrants and refugees” Soros wrote. “Although my main concern is to help migrants and refugees arriving in Europe, I will be looking for good investment ideas that will benefit migrants all over the world.”
Soros, 86, is a refugee himself. He fled Hungary in 1946 and spent his teenage years as a migrant in London. He worked as a railway porter and waiter to put himself through the London School of Economics and later moved to New York where he got his start working on Wall Street. In 1969 he established his own hedge fund, the Quantum Fund, with $12 million. Today Forbes estimates Soros’ net worth at $24.9 billion.
Through his Open Society foundations, Soros has said he plans to give away more than $11 billion in his lifetime. According to Soros, the latest $500 million investment earmarked toward refugees and migrants will be owned by his nonprofit foundation, and will be investments rather than grants. “They are intended to be successful—because I want to show how private capital can play a constructive role helping migrants—and any profits will go to fund programs at the Open Society Foundations, including programs that benefit migrants and refugees,” Soros wrote.