More than 500 refugee startups created since 2017

Together with our partners we have reached an important milestone in the For Refugees programme, we are celebrating over 500 startups created in the last six years. This had an impact on the lives of almost a thousand people.

The Human Safety Net is a global movement of people helping people, launched in 2017, that supports families with young children and the integration of refugees through works and entrepreneurship.

4 Countries
555 Business created since 2017
555Business created since 2017
10 Partners
990 jobs created
990jobs created

For refugees arriving in a new country, there are numerous barriers to full economic inclusion. Entrepreneurship, for many, can represent a concrete way toward greater economic independence and achieving their goals.

Creating a new business means the potential to provide for oneself and benefit the community where the business is established. At the same time, most refugees have difficulty re-starting their careers, yet with the right tools and advice, they can re-join the workforce and continue to pursue their professional aspirations. Refugees who decide to launch their businesses or grow their careers are counting on their own skills and perseverance. This not only sparks great personal growth, but it also often brings new resources, skills, and value to both their host country and their country of origin.

The greater economic independence that comes from running a business or having a career, and the related skills required for success, catalyses further growth and inclusion by creating more local jobs, putting more money into the local economy, and bringing greater innovation to local communities where the refugees establish their businesses.

In countries across Europe, there has been a marked shift in migrant entrepreneurship towards more promising and innovative sectors, such as ICT (Information and Communications Technology) and FIRE (i.e., Finance, Insurance and Real Estate). This shift provides evidence of the potential growth if migrant entrepreneurs in Europe target a broader segment of the economy.

Since 2017, The Human Safety Net has supported the creation of 555 start-ups through the For Refugees programme. This important milestone, reached in 2023, also marked the creation of 990 jobs within those enterprises.

The Human Safety Net supports refugees and asylum seekers in accessing opportunities for economic empowerment in the communities where they reside.

The Human Safety Net wants refugees and asylum seekers to gain a foothold in their community and enable them to act on their aspirations. To this end, we want to help them access income opportunities, through a business they created. Income and economic opportunity are intimately tied with broader social inclusion and community-building activities, with the ultimate objective of creating equal and just societies.

The entrepreneurship programme is active in four countries, with the support of 10 NGO partners that offer an 8-10 month tailored support programme of workshops, training, mentoring, business development and testing, and connections with experts.

Our beneficiaries come from a variety of countries from all over the world, the top country of origin is Ukraine, follow by Afghanistan and the Syrian Arab Republic in third place.

Refugees develop their business idea through group training sessions on entrepreneurial skills, vocational skills and soft skills. Partners also conduct employability workshops for those refugees that decide to pursue paid employment rather than start a business themselves.

Access to seed capital remains one of the most important challenges for refugee entrepreneurs, since many arrive without personal funds or credit histories.

Many NGO partners offer access to co-working spaces that provide new entrepreneurs or remote workers with a physical space as well as an inspiring community where they can learn and support one another.

The partners run one-to-one coaching and mentoring sessions to provide individual support to help develop a business or overcome job-related barriers.

The top sector where our beneficiaries start their businesses is Wholesale and Retail Trade, followed by Food Services in second place and Professional Services in the third place.

Once the beneficiaries conclude their incubation period with our NGO partners, they are autonomously operating on the market and must go through all the hurdles an entrepreneur has to sustain in order to make his business sustainable in the long run. A testimonial of their perseverance and our partner’s work is the survival rate of these businesses at the five-year mark, which with 56% is above the average of 51%. The fact that these entrepreneurs come from different countries, without a local network and very often without even knowing the local language makes this result even more impressive.