Startup Communities

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. 

Read More »

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
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.

Read More »

20Nov

Why You Should Read Entrepreneurship In Exile Book

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In a time when refugees are frequently debated in the news as a problem, it is easy to forget the hardship they had been through. Having escaped destruction, traumas, and even death, they arrive at their host countries with determination to make the most of their new home.

Over almost a decade of the refugee crisis, refugees have shown extraordinary strength and admirable resilience. Many have gone on to achieve their ambition in becoming entrepreneurs, though often referred to with the prefix ‘refugee’ or ‘immigrant,’ and boast far higher entrepreneurship rates than the original population where they settled.

Given that the act of choosing (when choice is possible) and moving to another country is an inherently brave and risky decision, it should be of no surprise that refugees and immigrants have repeatedly been found to be more entrepreneurial than locals. Those people are hungry to make it work. The desire has more to do with a will to win and less to do with a percentage game. For them, it is a survival game.

Dealing with the Syrian refugee crisis is a huge challenge, and it should involve people from both host and refugee communities working together to create more significant opportunities.

Supporting this group can yield substantial social and economic dividends for host countries. 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.

This report, Entrepreneurship in Exile, demonstrates why any debate about refugees should be conducted with an eye on what refugees can contribute to the local society and economy of the host country. It provides a stark reminder that, given the right circumstances, Syrian refugees are ready to integrate and start a new life.

The book built on data from a study examining Syrian entrepreneurs’ views and experiences over a period of 12 months of research, during which 156 interviews were conducted and ten open discussions as well as a series of interviews with entrepreneurial experts to spot the light on the Syrian business in host countries, the challenges it faces, the potential it has and the uncertain future that lies ahead. It provides a stark reminder that, given the right circumstances, refugees can contribute to the local society and economy of the host country.

Pre-order for free here if you want to be the first to get your hands on a copy >> https://goo.gl/forms/9WU0LijDZXituY6v2

8Jul

Common Mistakes Why You Fail To Raise Money (And What Can You Do About It)

During my work with more than 350 Startup Weekend events in the Middle East and Africa, I have realized that it is always down to those 6 common mistakes why some community and startup events fail to raise money. Here are the most common mistakes, and what can do you do about it: 

1) Setting A High Budget

SOLUTION: If you are planning to raise $10K, ask yourself, can you revise your plan to accomplish the same with $7K? Most of the time, organizers ask for arbitrary round numbers like $10K or $15K instead of the actual amount of money needed to achieve specific milestones.

Think about what can you cut. Work to re-budget. Spend a little bit less on marketing. Cancel your fancy T-shirt and video producing.

Be creative how you can spend the money productively. Spend time polishing your budget forecast, so that you can confidently tell sponsors why you are only looking for $7K, and why you know, you can achieve high quality with less capital.

Read More »

10Jan

How Can Entrepreneurship Build Peace in Conflict Zones?

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+150 startups were created in Syria last year—from BitCode, a platform to teach youth how to code in Arabic, to Clerk, an AI system for improving the recruitment process. The conflict in Syria has affected the population in many ways, but it has not stopped entrepreneurs from solving the problems they encounter in their daily lives every day.

In various studies, experts have shed light on the importance of empowering entrepreneurs and creating employment in the conflict zones —even while conflicts are still ongoing— to improve the level of security in post-conflict countries.

Startups like the ones mentioned above have the potential to create much-needed jobs in regions where few jobs exist. They can further help as mechanisms for finding innovative solutions for critical problems in the region.

Over the past five years, I have investigated entrepreneurship during the period of armed conflict in Syria. I spoke to hundreds of

entrepreneurs and uncovered some incredible insights. The results indicate that the conflict in Syria had inspired a new wave of innovative youth to tap into unexplored fields that generate new ideas and embracing new business models; 17.6 percent of Syrian youth tried to work on startup ideas in 2014, and the figure climbed to 31.2 percent in 2015. Read More »

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