Jason Buzi, Chris Catrambone, Hamdi Ulukaya and Naguib Sawiris
Buzz and Catrambone: Courtesy of themselves; Ulukaya: Neilson Barnard—Getty Images for New York Times; Sawiris: Amr Abdallah Dalsh—Reuters
By Vivienne Walt
September 28, 2015

As the world’s worst recorded refugee crisis deepens, governments have so far failed to solve the problem or stop the many deaths of people attempting safe passage out of war-torn countries. Enter executives with deep pockets and boardroom-tested outside-the-box thinking. Although even the greatest private fortunes would be hard-pressed to make a real dent in the scale of human suffering, with the EU and UN overwhelmed and cash-strapped, these businessmen argue they can help. More should follow their lead.

Jason Buzi, Real estate investor

Buzi wants to create a new country for the world’s displaced. The California developer announced his plan, “Refugee Nation,” in July, estimating the cost at tens of billions. Possible locations include Indonesia and the Caribbean.

Chris Catrambone, Founder, Tangiers Group

In 2013, Louisiana-based Catrambone and his wife bought an old expedition vessel in Norfolk and moved it to Malta, where it’s now acting as a kind of private coast guard. The crew says the project has saved 11,000 from drowning.

Hamdi Ulukaya, CEO, Chobani

In May, Ulukaya pledged to donate half his $1.4 billion wealth to refugee aid. Because he grew up in Turkey near the Syrian border, the crisis hits close to home. “What I saw on the pictures is people I know,” he said recently. “It is very familiar.”

Naguib Sawiris, Telecom billionaire

The Egyptian mogul has reportedly taken steps to try to buy a Greek island to house millions of refugees. “Crazy idea maybe,” he tweeted of the plan in September, “but at least temporary until they can return to their countries??!!”

Crazy idea .. Maybe but at least temporary until they can return to their countries ??!!

— Naguib Sawiris (@NaguibSawiris) September 1, 2015

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For more on immigration, watch this Fortune video:


A version of this article appears in the October 1, 2015 issue of Fortune magazine with the headline “Can private citizens help ease the crisis?”

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