REstart a new way to mobilize refugee potential

 

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REstart Refugees is a socio-economic startup operating out of Aalborg, Denmark. By tapping into the unrealized potential of the refugees with education, experience and unmatched drive, together we can impact the crisis.

 

By Jesper Vedel from REstart - 17 November 2017

 

Our crowdfunding platform collects investments from everyday people to restart the businesses of refugees in their communities. Not only will welfare spending decrease, but tax revenue will increase while cross-cultural alliances are forged. Thus, civil society is empowered to directly address the refugee crisis starting with their neighborhoods.

 REstart
2 co-foundere med Eoghan Stack, topchefen for Dublin City
University’s ‘Ryan Academy’ for iværksættere

 

 

Our alternative to traditional charity appeals to those who are leery of the effectiveness of their donations and offers the opportunity to influence their city, both economically and socially. By empowering refugees across Europe with entrepreneurship and citizens with an opportunity to influence their local surroundings, REstart is poised to provide a long-term solution to a long-term problem.

An opportunity, not a burden

The European refugee crisis has catalyzed an increasingly polarized society. The dialogue becomes political or emotional and often focuses on the negative aspects of the influx of refugees, such as cost, social problems and security concerns. We often fail to acknowledge the potential long-term benefits our local refugee communities could generate in collaboration with local community members.

 

Statistically speaking, tens of thousands of refugees have valuable entrepreneurial experience, while virtually all remain locked out of traditional funding to restart their businesses. Thus, they remain dependent on welfare or become stuck in low-skilled jobs, isolated from the mainstream society and economy.

 

In response to this, and in solidarity with refugees, civil society has begun to organize in creative and resourceful ways. And though there are organizations across Europe working to prepare refugee entrepreneurs to restart, they all continue to run up against the same barriers to entrepreneurship as a path towards financial independence: lack of funding.

 

REstart empowers refugees across Europe with entrepreneurship and citizens with direct engagement in the refugee crisis. Using the resources we already have to tackle the refugee crisis collectively, we are able to benefit European societies and economies alike. While some continue to experience the influx of refugees into Europe as a burden and a threat, REstart choose to see it as an opportunity.

 

What makes us unique

As a socio-economic business we do not wish to remain dependent or waste valuable resources on procuring funding and donations. Therefore, we have merged Kiva’s crowdsourced investment platform, with the shared equity investment scheme of Y Combinator. We are creating the world’s first local, self-sustaining mesofinance platform. We collect investments from local community members and direct them towards vetted business ideas of local refugees. In return, we take shared equity in each funded company, which allows us to operate independently of donations, grants and the like, while enabling us to partially guarantee investments. Thus, while our primary goal is societal impact, we will also be generating profit as a means of liberating our business.

 

REstart
Alexis working with Conor Clancy, founder of Refugee
Entrepreneurs Denmark, and Christopher Klüter,
Director of HackYourFuture Copenhagen.

 


Following our collective methodology, REstart relies on collaboration with existing refugee entrepreneur support organizations. We are proud to announce our first strategic partnership with Refugee Entrepreneurs Denmark (RED), a social enterprise facilitating business incubator and accelerator programs especially designed for refugees. Founded by Conor Clancy, RED was featured in the March edition of the SED newsletter. RED proves a valuable partner for REstart in that they identify, support and prepare entrepreneurs to be business-ready to receive funding. With a shared vision of transforming the refugee crisis into an opportunity, together we strive to support underserved refugees in Denmark to become financially independent and empowered community members.

 

Where we are

Since the team coalesced in February, we are now 3 co-founders, 3 advisors, 1 strategic partner, 1 client and more than 5 volunteers. We are rich in human resources, external support, and have a blossoming international network and recognitions: 

- Top 10 VIA Innovation Awards (out of more than 1,000 applicants) in April, 2017.

- AAU Inkubator’s first social-economic company in May, 2017.

- Selected to represent AAU at the European Consortium of Innovative Universities during the pilot Start Up Discovery Journey in September, 2017.

 

Currently, we are formalizing partnership agreements with our first client, Bispehavens Køkken, a vibrant community kitchen in Aarhus, Denmark. This is our first opportunity to interact with a company and learn the best practices, as well as to validate our model as we move forward.

 

REstart
Mayor of Aarhus, Jacob Bundsgaard, tastes homemade Moroccan soup
served by Bispehaven's Køkken at the Rethink Activism Festival in Aarhus.

 

 

Challenges going forward

Our biggest challenges at the moment are refining our revenue model, accessing bridge funding and building our financial forecasts. If you would like to offer any support in these areas, please send us an email. We’d be happy to hear from you!

 

Get involved!

Building something completely new is exciting, and requires input from many corners of society. Please contribute your input and experiences with charity here!

 


We are seeking a financial co-founder, advisor or mentor to propel us into action! If you want to learn more, please contact Alexis to say hi: Alexis@RestartRefugees.com.

 

Do you know any refugee entrepreneurs in Denmark? Or any refugee incubators across Europe? Please introduce us: Info@restartrefugees.com.

Follow us on Facebook.

See more on: restartrefugees.com 

 

If you have any requests or general feedback you find useful to our progress, do not hesitate to send us an email here: Info@restartrefugees.com.

On behalf of the team and the 65 million displaced people across the globe, thank you!

 

REstart Refugees

It’s not charity, it’s just good business.

REstart

Authentic Uzbeki food preparation at Rethink Activism Festival in Aarhus.

 

REstart

Women prepare food together at Bispehavens Køkken.

Sociale Entreprenører i Danmark (SED)| Tlf. 40 11 86 40 | Email: mail@socialeentreprenorer.dk | CVR-nr. 34147981