RIN hosted a Refugee Entrepreneurship Showcase in celebration of World Refugee Day 2022, featuring entrepreneurs from our Resilient 100 program. Speakers shared their experiences leading refugee lens enterprises in Turkey, Uganda, and Germany, and offered lessons learned in building refugee self-reliance.
Many thanks to all who participated in the showcase. We’re pleased to share video recordings and key takeaways from the event to keep the conversation going:
Speaker Highlights & Recordings
Izabela Ersahin, Sector7
Izabela discussed how Sector7 supports womens’ dignity and empowerment by providing access to work.
Sunday Asau, St. John’s College of Science and Technology
Sunday shared his entrepreneurial journey of flexibility and resilience in the development of his inclusive college, along with his vision for the future.
Rami Sharrack, Tatwir Consulting
Rami presented his insights on the needs of the refugee business community and how he supports them.
Anas Alakkad, Pontem Pro
Anas spoke about harnessing ed-tech to tailor education for refugees, and merging social entrepreneurship and volunteerism.
Key Discussion Takeaways
- The journey to entrepreneurship is not linear: Izabela started by making handicrafts to cope with a difficult pregnancy, which eventually led her to create Sector7 and empower other women with flexible work opportunities. Supporting his family after the death of his father and facing a crossroad in his career, Sunday decided to pursue entrepreneurship to align his personal mission and skills to address poverty. Rami’s career was interrupted when he had to leave Syria, which led to new leadership opportunities and his mission of supporting other Syrian refugee entrepreneurs. For Anas, what began as a “side hustle” evolved into a social enterprise supporting other refugees’ training.
- Entrepreneurs can create labor market solutions for refugees: Both St. John’s College of Science and Technology and Pontem Pro offer vocational training, though through different models, to equip refugees with the skills needed in the local labor market. Tatwir Consulting fills the existing skills gaps for refugees to grow their businesses. Sector7 addresses the unique barriers women face to increase their labor market participation.
- A favorable policy environment and public partnerships benefit entrepreneurship: With progressive pro-refugee policies, Uganda offers a ripe context to invest in refugee-owned and refugee-supporting enterprises, as Sunday discussed. Tatwir helps Syrian entrepreneurs navigate regulations in Turkey in order to improve their businesses. Pontem Pro is working to gain credentials in order to be eligible for government funding.
- “Refugees are an opportunity, not a burden.” From supporting their families, as Izabela mentioned, to contributing to economic growth, as Sunday stated, refugees are resilient, resourceful, entrepreneurial, and investable.
- Support is needed to fully unlock refugees’ potential: Presenters encouraged the audience to consider the sustainability of their investments, prioritizing scalable solutions to support other refugees. The need for digital transformation to prepare businesses for the future; access to networks, coaching, and mentorship; and long-term partners was also emphasized.