Helping refugee entrepreneurs

Helping refugee entrepreneurs

Leaving Everything Behind But Their Skills

Technology is enabling refugees to utilize and develop their skills in host countries.

By Laurene Veale on July 12, 2016

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Another recent initiative to support highly skilled refugees is the online portal Entrepreneurial Refugees created in the Netherlands by the tech start-up BidX. It allows users to communicate and help each other out around their business ideas. Refugees and other migrants can present a business concept, ask for feedback to further develop it and reach out to investors and experts to make their idea a reality.

Research has shown that migrants tend to be a resourceful and hardworking group: having known hardship and taken huge risks to find a safe country to live in, they are ready to make difficult choices to see their business succeed.

“For the investors, a good business idea is a good business idea and we believe there are a lot of potentially good business concepts among refugees that can deliver satisfactory investment return in the future,” says Ismail Yassin, who runs the Entrepreneurial Refugees portal.

In addition to these initiatives, several online networks and projects have been launched to help refugees acquire new skills. The Berlin-based project Refugees on Rails, for example, offers free one-day coding courses for migrants, puts them in touch with IT students and professionals and offers second-hand laptops to refugees. As for London-based Techfugees, it has been working on conferences, hackathons and meetups to find tech-driven solutions to the refugee crisis. MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab has also launched the Innovate for Refugees Competition which calls for entrepreneurs including refugee entrepreneurs to submit a tech-driven solution addressing one of the challenges of the refugee crisis.
Such initiatives play an important role in breaking the stereotypes of refugees as vulnerable and resourceless victims fleeing from danger. Instead refugees need to be recognised for their creativity, skills and intellectual capital. With the right support and access to opportunities they can be a valuable asset to their host societies.

Read the entire article from MIT Technological Review website here