Innovation That Matters

Initiative cultivates refugee startups in Finland

Nonprofit & Social Cause

Startup Refugee will provide mentoring programs and funding to help refugees in Finland start their own businesses.

The Syrian refugee crisis has seen millions of people seeking asylum in Europe, and many are seeing the situation as a vast influx of potential talent. We’ve covered how refugees in London have set up a workshop to teach other migrants how to repair bikes, and now Finland-based Startup Refugees is hoping to tap into the business acumen of asylum seekers.

Founded by Finnish TV talk show personalities Riku Rantala and Tunna Milonoff of ‘Docventures’, Startup Refugees has gained the support of numerous companies and individuals. The aim is to give a platform to the business leaders among the influx of refugees, allowing them to earn money and contribute positively to the economy when they would otherwise spend up to a year in processing centers. The initiative has already seen immigrant business owners enter the refugee center to offer advice and lend equipment to asylum seekers, and erect refugee-run hairdressing stalls. In 2016 the initiative will begin a round of funding with partners and angel investors, alongside mentoring programs and incubator projects to help aspiring asylum seekers get businesses up and running.


Projects like Startup Refugees not only provide asylum seekers with potential business opportunities, but also showcase that an eager workforce can have a positive economic impact. How else could refugees be assisted to find work?



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