Refugee Entrepreneurship Summit comes at critical moment for post-pandemic economic recovery

The Human Safety Net supports the Centre for Entrepreneurs in its global event involving 90+ organisations involved in refugee start-ups

More than 90 organisations of practitioners, funders, governments and researchers involved in refugee business start-ups around the world took part in the 4th Global Refugee Entrepreneurship Summit, supported by The Human Safety Net.

The annual flagship event of the Refugee Entrepreneurship Network (REN), organised by the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE), comes at a crucial time for relaunching refugee-led enterprises as a critical part of the European business sector recovery following the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The Human Safety Net supports REN’s mission of convening and researching innovation in the sector and this collaboration grants all The Human Safety Net’s NGO partners in its For Refugees programme access to the global network.
The Human Safety Net’s Executive Director, Emma Ursich, told delegates: “A critical part of what we as a foundation can do is to share our views, as well as elevate the expertise of our NGO partners – and this summit provides a great platform to do this. The summit also provides the first ever opportunity for The Human Safety Net’s NGO partners around Europe that are working with refugee entrepreneurs to meet up as a group and exchange their experiences and ideas.”

Ursich added: “We hope the learning that comes out of this summit can channel further direct investments into supporting refugee entrepreneurs, as well as sharing research, programme models and best practices. We also hope to meet new like-minded allies and supporters to join us in working with the amazing refugee organisations and entrepreneurs present here at this summit.”
Millions of refugees have arrived in Europe in recent years, many with the skills, passion and resilience to become successful entrepreneurs. However, even when they are granted official status, refugees face particular challenges when launching new businesses. They are often confronted by complex regulations, a new culture and an unfamiliar business environment. Most also lack the networks and access to finance that would enable them to turn their dreams into reality. The Human Safety Net for Refugee Start-Ups Programme works with them, helping bring their business ideas to life. It supports them with training and coaching, as well as providing access to co-working spaces and financing. 

Alan Barbieri, Head of Programmes at The Human Safety Net told delegates: “In 2021, we reached an important milestone, with almost 1,000 refugee entrepreneurs supported since the launch of our For Refugee Start-Ups programme. Many of the start-ups have gone from strength to strength. Afghan Laziz, a food company supported by Capacity, this year launched in Switzerland and has been expanding steadily ever since. The fashion company Eilev in Munich, Germany, received the 2021 Sustainable Impact Award. Carbon Mobile in Berlin and Meet My Mama in Paris have also both been resounding successes.”

Barbieri added: “This year we also saw the launch of our first Scale Up Impact programme in our refugee portfolio – SINGA in France – to create a new global entity to expand its dedicated incubators for refugee entrepreneurs, starting with five cities across France and Germany.”
Summit organiser Matt Smith, who oversees CFE’s Incubator and Accelerator Network and Refugee Entrepreneurship Network, said: “Research has shown that entrepreneurship plays an important role in helping refugees rebuild their lives and achieve economic independence. With the global refugee crisis showing no signs of abating, it is vital that we learn from existing solutions and scale them to empower ever-growing numbers of refugees."
"Two major themes emerged from the summit: the need to unlock significantly more funding for refugee-owned businesses, and the need to engage many more businesses of all sizes to provide employment, support programmes, and tailored services to help refugee entrepreneurs. The Refugee Entrepreneurship Network will be working with its members over the coming year to address these topics."