Accelerator Program Looks to Support Migrant and Refugee Entrepreneurs
Tuesday, 6th February 2018 at 1:59 pm
An accelerator program supporting migrant and refugee-led social impact ventures improving the lives of disadvantaged Australians has just been launched, hoping to foster diversity in the startup ecosystem.
International development not for profit YGAP launched its First Gens accelerator program on Monday, aiming to break down barriers facing migrants and refugees when starting a social enterprise, finding employment or participating in the community.
Funded by startup ecosystem development agency LaunchVic, the free program consists of an intensive five-day live-in accelerator followed by three months of tailored support for entrepreneurs working towards creating a better Australia for refugees and migrants.
At the end of the support phase a pitch event is held, giving each entrepreneur the chance to pitch to impact investors, philanthropists, entrepreneurs and industry leaders.
Top entrepreneurs from each intake group will then move into the growth phase where they will have access to an increased support package and up to $25,000 of growth capital.
YGAP was selected as one of five recipients to receive funding from LaunchVic in their latest grant round, which looked to support organisations that encouraged migrants and refugees in Victoria to develop their startup skills.
— YGAP (@ygap_official) August 21, 2017
LaunchVic CEO Dr Kate Cornick told Pro Bono News that diversity and inclusion in the startup ecosystem was vital.
“We want to make sure that our ecosystem supports [all] founders, whether they are female, whether they are migrants or refugees or whether they’re from regions. No matter where you’re located or what your background is, you should be able to start a startup if you want to,” Cornick said.
“It sounds really simple, but the problem is that more often than not in ecosystems around the world, people from minority groups or underrepresented groups are disadvantaged when it comes to the sorts of services that enable you to grow your startup, including capital.
“So we want to ensure that founders have the opportunity to get the right education so they can build their businesses and hopefully become very successful.”
Cornick said she was excited about YGAP’s accelerator program, which she believes will foster a diverse and inclusive startup ecosystem.
“Our third round of funding was particularly targeted at migrants and refugees. YGAP put in an application that was one of the strongest and that’s why we funded them,” she said.
“What we liked about their proposal was the way they were going to help a number of founders build products that help migrants and refugees, but it also had those founders be migrants and refugees.
“We believe they are strongly placed to help ensure a number of founders with diverse backgrounds get supported and therefore support the ecosystem to become more diverse and inclusive.”
She said she hoped participants of the program will learn the skills and gain the confidence to develop a successful business.
“The first thing we want people to have is an avenue to explore ideas and potentially build businesses. So we want to be able to provide these founders with education through the accelerator program,” Cornick said.
“Now we’re realists, so we understand that not all of those founders will go on to build successful businesses straight away. But what we hope they learn is the skills to make them successful in the future.”
Cornick added that the accelerator program would also hopefully benefit the wider migrant and refugee community.
“I think the most important impact for the wider migrant and refugee community is creating successful case studies,” she said.
“We know that having successful role models in a position to demonstrate what’s achievable is often a key instigator for other people to take a leap of faith [and] can encourage others to take that step.
“We would love to see YGAP producing highly successful businesses that make a significant impact, not only through the services they provide but also through creating employment.”
Interested parties can apply for the YGAP accelerator program here. Applications close 30 March 2018.