The Asylum Process Broke My Dream Refugee Entrepreneurs
This was not my plan. I love my country. I was sitting with Thomas refugee not his real identity at a bustling community center where he volunteers alongside fellow refugees and asylum seekers. Thomas is tall and athletic in his 40s. He smiled and answered questions as he directed newcomers to the lunch counter. He gave me a plate, then shared with me his most memorable experience in 2012, telling me about it. Smiles and says, I had the honor of representing my country at the Olympic Games.
Thomas was, as it turned out, a Judo master who competed at the highest level and trained others. Although Thomas was well-respect in Judo, his fame brought about want attention. He fled his home in Africa in 2013 after he was accuse of causing unwelcome attention. His anonymity must protect, even now.
Thomas’s story is not unique, unfortunately. The world is struggling amid pandemic uncertainty, and there may not be a better group than refugees to help it. Many refugees are force to live in poverty because of restrictions on their movement, property ownership, and working. Despite this oppressive background, refugees demonstrate tremendous creativity and create businesses and livelihoods using whatever resources they have.
Research has shown that refugees businesses offer opportunities to those who feel that they cannot find employment – even though they may be qualified for the positions they apply for. Refugee businesses are hubs that provide vital information, support, and resources to fellow refugees in camps and resettled areas.
Largest Refugee Camps
In Kakuma, Kenya’s largest refugee camps, a refugee enterprise is the only source for soap, which is a crucial necessity in times of global pandemic. Similar to east Belfast, a Syrian bakery supplies the daily bread that many Syrian families eat, which was previously not available in the area.
Many of the essential prerequisites for starting a business are not available to refugees. Refugees with entrepreneurial ambitions must make a huge leap to be able to access finance. They are often geographically far from their social networks and culturally dislocated. There are many initiatives to help refugees entrepreneurship in countries such as Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Iran, Australia and Japan.
Many of these programs started as grassroots support efforts, and have expanded to meet the growing demand for refugee business support. Recent pilot programs funded by philanthropic donations and government departments were created to better understand the impact of refugee support on business.
As the Centre for Entrepreneurs’ research lead, I was able to meet a variety of initiatives and have met many refugee entrepreneurs first-hand. I am currently reviewing their stories and have put them together in a paper. All of the people I interviewed were inspiring in their own ways and their stories were profoundly moving. These are stories of suffering and hardship. They are stories of hardship and suffering, but ultimately they are about hope and survival.
Olympian Became An IT Technician
This brings me back to Thomas. He recalls his six years of limbo while awaiting a decision on refugee status and the right to stay in the UK. The asylum process destroyed my dream, he said. He was not allow work and lived on PS35 per week. Thomas sighes and says, It was very difficult. But he was determine to do what he could to survive. Looked for social opportunities that would allow him to be active and engaged in the community.
He was not paid to teach Judo, but he did so on a voluntary basis. He was well-known in the area and was invite to tell his story to students at the university. Began to offer IT support to other asylum seekers and explored the possibility of starting an IT business.
In 2018, he was granted refugee status. He recalls feeling determined and ready to start a new business. He said, Before I started piloting, I had to be one man squad. I worked very late trying to make this business work. The UK pilot program helped him get closer to his goals and gave him the motivation he needed.