Fast Retailing is stepping up its support of refugees worldwide with a new agreement with UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. The company has pledged to donate $10 million over three years, starting from 2016. It will also distribute winter clothing to new arrivals in Europe.
“The world has really become connected,” said Tadashi Yanai, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Fast Retailing. “I see our business activities and CSR activities as two wheels on a car. If I bet my life on our business, I have to also bet my life on CSR.”
Fast Retailing has been working with UNHCR since 2006 through its in-store clothing recycling initiative. As of April this year, its brands Uniqlo and GU together have donated over 10 million pieces of recycled clothing to refugees and displaced people in 37 countries and regions. In 2011, the company first established its global partnership with the UN Refugee Agency.
Under the new agreement, Fast Retailing will donate 150,000 items of Uniqlo’s Extra Warm Heattech clothing to help families seeking asylum in Europe and Afghanistan get through the cold winter. It will also provide internships with future employment possibilities to 100 refugees in Japan and abroad.
“We have many significant partnerships with private companies providing expertise pro bono to our activities, providing financial support, engaging their staff or their clients,” said António Guterres, United Nations high commissioner for refugees. “But I must say that it’s difficult to find a company that has such a comprehensive approach to corporate social responsibility as Uniqlo has.”