“There is not a pipeline problem, there is a connections problem.”
– Natasha Freidus, NeedsList
Thank you to all who joined us last week for our discussion on growing your business through Refugee Lens Investing. It was an engaging session with insightful perspectives from our panelists:
- Natasha Freidus, Co-Founder & CEO, NeedsList
- Michael Hall, VP of Acquisitions, Launch Capital Partners
- Thami Schweichler, Co-Founder & Managing Director, MakersUnite
The session began with an overview of RIN’s Refugee Lens Investing framework and transitioned into a conversation with our panelists who have tapped into new pools of capital & growth opportunities as refugee-lens enterprises in different ways. They shared the challenges & benefits they’ve experienced through including refugees in their operations & services, and their advice to businesses looking to become more mission-driven.
- There are many ways to become a refugee lens business – every entrepreneur and enterprise has their own way of creating value & opportunities for people on the move, from direct services & employment to ecosystem building & advocacy.
- Being intentional in your approach can create value for your business, including unlocking a new & loyal customer base, reducing cost & benefitting your bottom line by leveraging overlooked & untapped talent, creating a competitive advantage as a niche provider, and attracting partners who are driven by purpose.
- When it comes to investable refugee ventures there is not a pipeline problem, but a connections problem. Fundraising is difficult, and especially for founders from marginalized backgrounds. But impact investors can diversify their pipelines through networks like RIN and take action.
- Building corporate partnerships on shared values of sustainability and inclusion ensures greater impact and success. It is OK to say no when there isn’t a good fit.
- There are advantages to being mission-driven from day 1, but there is also opportunity to pivot an existing business to serve refugees – especially in fintech, edtech, and healthcare.
- It’s critical to include people with lived experiences in displacement on your leadership team and board. Sourcing from refugee-led vendors and hiring staff from displaced backgrounds will further strengthen your impact.