Supporting the Next Generation of Impact Entrepreneurs
24 August 2017 at 5:25 pm
An initiative to support refugees and migrants to create the next generation of impact entrepreneurs has secured funding through LaunchVic.
International development not for profit YGAP has received $304,000 to run three accelerators and support 36 startups led by new migrants or refugees over two years.
The YGAP First Gens program includes a series of workshops in Melbourne and rural centres to help build start-ups around problems affecting at risk or disadvantaged refugees and or migrants; an intensive early stage accelerator program; and incubator to provide additional support for ventures.
YGAP CEO Elliot Costello told Pro Bono News the funding would enable YGAP to support entrepreneurs to help grow and scale their “game-changing work”.
“Our aim is to work collaboratively with refugee or migrant organisations to support these entrepreneurs and significantly and measurably improve the lives of over 10,000 people through this initial phase of the project,” Costello said.
“We want to prove that with the right support, migrant and refugee entrepreneurs can build and run highly successful businesses that lift up Australian communities.”
According to YGAP the unemployment rate in the migrant and refugee community is second only to the level of unemployment faced by Australia’s Indigenous population, yet, migrants and refugees are twice as likely to start a business in Australia than those born locally.
Costello said it was important to support the migrant and refugee community to become entrepreneurs.
“Migrants and refugees face significant barriers to becoming successful entrepreneurs in Australia,” he said.
“Many have fled traumatic circumstances in their home countries that left them with nothing.
“[They] face significant barriers to launching ventures. Barriers like their qualifications not being recognised, poor knowledge of a foreign operating environment, a language barrier and difficulty accessing the finance and networks necessary to launch a start-up.”
But he said despite the barriers they faced they were “perfectly suited to the start-up world”.
“They have so much to offer society, not just economically, but socially and culturally as well,” he said.
“For many refugees and migrants, entrepreneurship runs in their blood – they are naturally enterprising.
“Many have run small businesses in their home countries and are more willing to take entrepreneurial risks, meaning they are perfectly suited to the start-up world.”
YGAP was as one of five recipients to receive funding from LaunchVic in the third grant round which aimed to support first generation migrants and refugees.
Free to Feed, co-founded by YGAP alumni and growth grant recipient Loretta Bolotin, was also awarded funding for its Now to Launch incubator, which will offer 60 startups from Melbourne and regional Victoria the chance to take high growth food start-up concepts from now to launch.
YGAP said it was a “proud moment” to stand alongside Bolotin at the announcement ceremony.
Funding also went to Enterprising Partnerships to run 10 hackathons across Victoria through the Cultov8 program; Laika Academy for The Generation Launch program; and Hatch Quarter which will create a playbook to help first generation migrants and refugees and deliver meetups to build a supportive community for international startup entrepreneurs.
In total the grant round saw $1.4 million go to support migrant and refugee startups.
LaunchVic CEO Dr Kate Cornick said diversity and inclusion was a core focus for LaunchVic and the selected grant recipients would encourage and enable more migrant and refugee entrepreneurs to engage in the Victorian start-up ecosystem.