Start-Up Za’atari celebrates innovation and enterprising spirit of Syrian refugee youth

03 May 2018

ZA’ATARI, 3 May 2018: The first ever ‘Start-Up Za’atari’ event, held by The One Foundation and UNICEF to showcase and unleash the talent and potential of young people in Za’atari Refugee Camp, concluded today following two days of social innovation exhibitions and workshops.

‘Start-Up Za’atari’ is part of the UNICEF X ONE Humanitarian Changemakers Lab, a new partnership to equip vulnerable youth in Jordan with the knowledge and business skills needed to design their own solutions to everyday challenges and to promote entrepreneurship and jobs.

“We are very excited to be part of this event celebrating the energy and innovation of youth in Za’atari,” said The One Foundation. “The ONExUNICEF Humanitarian Changemaker Labs Jordan is providing talented young people in Jordan with transferrable skills and a path to contribute economically to a better future for themselves and the region.”

UNICEF’s newest Youth Goodwill Ambassador, Muzoon, who lived in Za’atari, sent a message saying that, "This is exactly the type of opportunity I was looking for when I was in Za’atari Refugee Camp. Young people in this camp will benefit enormously from this development. Young people in particularly need this support to help them cope and learn the skills needed to rebuild Syria. Congratulations to the One Foundation and to UNICEF on this collaboration.”

The One Foundation has provided a grant through UNICEF Ireland for the initiative in Jordan, which will allow talented youth to develop their skills and ideas on how be changemakers in their communities, while transforming services that are provided for vulnerable and crisis-affected populations.

“UNICEF is excited to partner with The One Foundation and UNICEF Ireland to empower vulnerable young people in Jordan to create positive change in their communities and in their own lives,” said the UNICEF Jordan Representative Robert Jenkins.

During the start-up event, over 100 young people participated in skills workshops - including robotics, creative visioning, fashion design and artificial intelligence – designed to foster their creativity and empower them to become co-creators, rather than recipients, of the products and services that impact their lives in the camp.

Joining the event, the Executive Director of UNICEF Ireland, Peter Power, said “UNICEF Ireland is very proud of our association with The ONE Foundation and what is has achieved for Syrian children affected by the ongoing conflict inside Syria. Youth are at risk of becoming the forgotten victims of humanitarian crisis. By providing them with innovative social entrepreneurship skills they need to make a lasting sustainable impact for many years, we can prevent a lost generation.”

The event was supported by a dozen national organizations and individuals who volunteered their time to inspire and motivate young people in the camp. Exhibitions, pitch competitions, performances and inspiring talks demonstrated how social innovation can contribute to building an inclusive and resilient community in the wider Za’atari community, and beyond.


Note to editors: The following organizations and individuals generously donated their time to make ‘Start-up Za’atari’ a success: Global Shapers Amman, ZINC, Localized, Aseel Qawasmi, Dezain Space, Civic, Turquoise Mountain, Shamal Start, Lifelong AI, Save the Children Jordan, Startups Without Borders, Bara Wahbeh.

About The One Foundation
The One Foundation is a privately-funded Irish foundation based in Dublin, Ireland.

Media contacts

Claire McKeever
Communications Specialist


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit

Follow UNICEF on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram