For-profits now care for about 90 percent of Norway’s refugees. A gold rush has commenced, and it’s also a bit of a circus. Just outside Oslo, a savvy entrepreneur named Ola Moe recently rented a vacant hospital for $10,000 a month, did minimal upgrades, and began charging the government $460,000 a month to house and feed 200 refugees. At a refugee center in Southern Norway, 50 resident asylum seekers went on a two-hour march in November to protest the poor food, prompting one politician, an Iranian Norwegian named Mazyar Keshvari, to proclaim, “These ungrateful people should immediately leave the country.”
Amid such controversy, the Adolfsens appear like poised professionals. In press photographs, they flash can-do smiles as they sit before gleaming conference tables in airy office towers. One Oslo paper, Dagens Naeringsliv, has called them “Norway’s least known billionaires.” Yet concerns remain. In their monetization of the refugee crisis, will the Adolfsens provide superior, more efficient havens, or will they cut corners and skimp on services to improve profits? And does their bottom-line approach threaten a depth of caring that transcends hard cash?