19May

COVID-19 Survival Guide for Refugees Businesses

Since the beginning of 2020, COVID-19 has been ripping through countries around the world, throwing health systems and economies of all sizes and potential into an unprecedented crisis. With strict movement protocols and stay-at-home orders in place around the world, businesses have been forced to close, flights canceled, and financial markets are in a tailspin. 

COVID-19 is not a one-off challenge. We should expect additional phases to the current epidemic and additional epidemics in the future. Researches outlined the effectiveness of organizational responses to dynamic crises indicates that there is one variable that is most predictive of eventual success –preparation and preemption. Preparing for the next phase of the current crisis now is likely to be much more effective than an ad hoc, reactive response when the crisis actually hits.

Prepare for a changed world.

We should expect that the COVID-19 crisis will change our businesses and society in unprecedented and important ways. It is likely to reinvigorate areas like online shopping, online education, and trigger public health investments, for example. It is also likely to change how companies configure their supply chains and reinforce the trend away from reliance on a few megafactories. When the urgent part of the crisis has been navigated, companies should consider what this crisis changes and what they’ve learned so they can reflect them in their plans. 

The Survival Guide, in English and Arabic, is available open-source for all startups and SMEs struggling in the wake of the global pandemic. With chapters on strengthening your team and operation, improving your market position, defending against revenue declines, and case studies, the easy-to-apply knowledge can assist much-needed businesses to survive and overcome the pandemic.

 

Get The Guide Here

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This report was prepared by Ahmad Sufian Bayram in collaboration with SPARK.

6May

World With Limited Possibilities: How Covid-19 Is Affecting Refugees Entrepreneurs

Since the beginning of 2020, COVID-19 has been ripping through countries around the world, throwing health systems and economies of all sizes and potential into an unprecedented crisis. With strict movement protocols and stay-at-home orders in place around the world, businesses have been forced to close, flights canceled, and financial markets are in a tailspin. 

The risk from the virus transcends social classes and cuts across communities. One category made vulnerable in this crisis is refugees, particularly those living in already inadequate, overcrowded communities. An outbreak of the virus in such gatherings can lead to a catastrophe. 

The majority of refugee-hosting countries, not least in the Middle East and Africa, already have fragile economies. A policy brief released by ESCWA featuring an economic assessment of the cost of the pandemic on the MENA region warned of job losses at an alarming rate due to COVID-19. 

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19Jan

ONE YEAR LATER: Entrepreneurship In Exile Insights into Syrian Refugees Startups – Turkey

A year ago, I published the Entrepreneurship in Exile study was published to focuses on Syrian entrepreneurs who were forced to leave Syria and become immigrants and refugees in host countries. Built on data from a study examining Syrian entrepreneurs’ views and experiences over 12 months of research, during which 156 interviews were conducted and ten open discussions as well as a series of interviews with entrepreneurial experts. Year after, I wanted to do a revisit on the report and examine the main challenges that faced the entrepreneurs and see what this year has reflected on the Syrian refugees in Turkey.

Read the full study

Turkey has the highest number of Syrian refugees of any single nation, two-thirds of the entire Syrian refugee community worldwide, with some three million people registered under “temporary protection.” The Government of Turkey announced spending over $30 billion on assistance for Syrian refugees.

Alongside the effort of hosting the refugee’s community, a surprising and powerful trend has emerged. A total of 10,000 new Syrian companies were founded in Turkey since 2011, up from only 157 in 2012.

Last year hold many changes for the Syrian refugees in the country. During July and August of the year 2019, Syrian refugees, nonetheless refugees entrepreneurs, have faced campaigns of deportation and arbitrary arrests concentrated in Istanbul. Those actions targeted people who do not hold the temporary residence card called “Kimmelk” in Turkey or those who have a card issued by a state other than Istanbul.

This has separated many startups from their team and is located on the central hub of startup innovation city – Istanbul, the home of the majority of Turkish accelerators, incubators, venture capitals, and conferences, many business owners continue to be concerned about their long-term status in the country. Which made Trave Restrictions, Social Exclusion and Uncertain Future challenges (As elaborated in Entrepreneurs in Exil report) have become harder on the startups during 2019.

The previous laws and actions come at a time of increasing public resentment toward the Syrians presence in the country. In a poll conducted earlier this year, 68% of Turkish respondents expressed discontent with the Syrian presence, compared to 58% in 2016. Meanwhile, the increases in consumer prices have affected the cost of living for the refugees in Turkey, making life is much harder. Besides, issuing the Government of Turkey new decisions to stop providing free medical services to Syrian refugees.

Last year also hold improvement on some on some of the challenges Complex Regulatory Policies, Banking, and Faincail Services Limitation, Language And Cultural Barriers, and Psycho-social Background & Trauma. See chart below

THE AVERAGE TOP REFUGEES’ STARTUP CHALLENGES IN TURKEY ON BOTH 2018 AND 2019.
Epreneurship in Exile
14Jan

ONE YEAR LATER: Entrepreneurship In Exile Insights into Syrian Refugees Startups – Jordan

A year ago, I published the Entrepreneurship in Exile study was published to focuses on Syrian entrepreneurs who were forced to leave Syria and become immigrants and refugees in host countries. Built on data from a study examining Syrian entrepreneurs’ views and experiences over 12 months of research, during which 156 interviews were conducted and ten open discussions as well as a series of interviews with entrepreneurial experts. Year after, I wanted to do a revisit on the report and examine the main challenges that faced the entrepreneurs and see what this year has reflected on the Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Read the full study

The Jordan Compact was game-changing to turn the refugee crisis into an economic opportunity by focusing on labor market reform, boosting trade, and attracting investment. The Compact crowded in concessional financings and beyond-aid incentives, like trade concessions that relaxed rules of origin (ROO) to export to Europe, to support inclusive growth for Jordanians and Syrian refugees alike.

The government has taken many steps to allow the refugees in camps like Zaatari to register home-based businesses in all sectors. Furthermore, grantee the Syrians who are living outside the camps the right to register home-based businesses in only the food processing, handicrafts, and tailoring sectors while maintaining 100 percent ownership. However, between January 1, 2016, and March 31, 2019, only 139,002 work permits were awarded, and currently, 38,000 refugees have active permits.

During last year, Jordan has collaborated with the international community, including the European Union and the World Bank, to strengthen the self-reliance of refugees and host communities, which includes training programs and support for creating job opportunities for Syrian refugees. The deal has allowed the country to access grants and financing package.

Jordan’s Startup ecosystem observe many improvements in the past years, especially in 2019 Jordan, implemented critical economic reforms. For the first time, Jordan has been selected among the top 3 business climate improvers by jumping an unprecedented from 29 ranks in the 2020 Doing Business rankings, according to the World Bank Group’s Doing Business 2020 report. Moreover, Jordan is a host to various incubators and accelerators and is one of the region’s most giant magnets of venture capital and equity funds.

Syrian refugee entrepreneurs benefited from those improvements and support as several new entrepreneurial programs have been established, focusing on small business and startup advancements and training. 

Through examing the challenges facing the Syrian entrepreneurs living in Jordan, the finding indicated a slight improvement. Banking and financial services limitations and Psycho-social Background & Trauma have been easied. While in contrast, challenges social exclusion and complex regulatory policies have become much harder. Travel Restrictions and are still the number one challenge for the Syrian refugees in Jordan.  

THE AVERAGE TOP REFUGEES’ STARTUP CHALLENGES IN Jordan ON BOTH 2018 AND 2019
ENTREPRENEURSHIP IN EXILE
7Jan

ONE YEAR LATER: Entrepreneurship In Exile Insights into Syrian Refugees Startups – Lebanon

A year ago, I published the Entrepreneurship in Exile study was published to focuses on Syrian entrepreneurs who were forced to leave Syria and become immigrants and refugees in host countries. Built on data from a study examining Syrian entrepreneurs’ views and experiences over 12 months of research, during which 156 interviews were conducted and ten open discussions as well as a series of interviews with entrepreneurial experts. Year after, I wanted to do a revisit on the report and examine the main challenges that faced the entrepreneurs and see what this year has reflected on the Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

Read the full study

Lebanon has a long history of protracted economic crises. The country of 10,452 square kilometers has a population of nearly 6.5 million people, including almost one million Syrian refugees. The long-standing gap Solutions have indeed been put forward by successive governments, but they have done little to bridge that gap in the market. Lebanon needs to create six times more jobs than it currently does to accommodate the 23,000 people who join the waiting list every year. 1 Read More »

3Dec

Is e-work the solution to the refugees employment crisis?

Opportunities for refugees to work remotely are mostly centered around the tech sector. Most opportunities that are available are in e-commerce, programming, software and mobile app development, digital marketing, graphic design, translation, and data analysis. Refugees have also been employed remotely in nontechnical sectors such as online tutoring and translation. 

This type of job, which remains widely untapped, provides one more option and a positive advantage for young refugees who have just finished their studies and are looking for their first experience. It allows them to work as contractors or freelancers on a project basis. Online work provides flexibility and can introduce one to new clients from anywhere in the world, opening up new possibilities depending on the field of expertise.

In Lebanon and Jordan, Syrian refugees only have the right to work and acquire work permits in limited sectors (for example, agriculture and construction). In Turkey, while Syrian refugees are allowed to work in any sector, employment is restricted by a quota set by the government (one Syrian for every ten Turks). According to “An Examination of Remote Work for Refugees” report.
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4May

Despite The Struggles, Many Syrian Refugees Started their Own Businesses in Exile

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Syrian entrepreneurs, like the wider population of Syria, have fled the country to seek sanctuary around the world. Having taken their ideas and ambitions with them, they have met with mixed success in their new homes. Some have managed to create new startups and thrive in innovation-friendly environments, while others have grappled with a range of challenges that make it harder for small and medium-sized enterprises to get off the ground.

In my recent book “Entrepreneurship in Exile” which examed hundred Syrian refugees entrepreneurs’ views and experiences. I have heard direct from founder from Turkey to Jordan, Germany, and Canada, we heard about the people who took a step and made a decision. They left behind a country, a home, a memory, and took their journey to the unknown. They settled in their new home, started a business, became employers and contributed to the local economy.

The results were incredible, despite the severe conditions in which refugees and immigrants live, they have shown incredible strength and resilience. Many have worked hard to achieve their ambitions, becoming a refugee and immigrant entrepreneur.

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