Refugees are often deemed as a drain on the society. They are usually singled out in terms of help, which places them at the bottom of the labour market. However, contrary to the common belief, these expatriates have a well-documented history of propagating productivity in the host countries.
Shantanu Prakash, founder of R Ventures Foundation, a registered not-for-profit foundation and Archish Mittal, Executive Director of the Foundation aim to promote integration of refugees in different host countries. The foundation organised the first ever conference to bring together all stakeholders for entrepreneurship amongst refugees and displaced persons – addressing the issues, opportunities and potential of refugees in different countries.
The idea for the organization was conceived at TedxZaventem, where Shantanu Prakash, member of Global Futures Council on Migration at World Economic Forum (WEF) gave a talk about refugee entrepreneurship.
The discussion opened by Shantanu Prakash addressed diverse issues like the challenges faced by refugee entrepreneurs, the role of private sector in developing a Refugee Support Ecosystem and the role of policy makers in impacting refugees.
The seminar witnessed great participation of people from all walks of life. Various prominent business leaders, policymakers, refugee entrepreneurs and journalists were invited as the speakers, panellists and audience. They identified the ways in which the private sector, public sector, media, and refugees could meet the challenges and bring about a much-needed change.
The event culminated with the announcement of the establishment of a Refugee Business Incubator in Heidelberg by R Ventures Foundation. The company invited all the parties interested in this project to contribute by giving time, funds, expertise, contacts, and networks, and suggesting refugee entrepreneurs for admission. It garnered considerable help and support from different panellists.
Bayer Foundation invited the budding refugee entrepreneurs to get in touch with them for seed capital. Al Arabiya offered to train refugee entrepreneurs in how to effectively tell their story, and Deutsche Welle offered media internships. At the end of the conclave, R Ventures called on all the participants to make specific commitments to implement the Action Agenda and promote growth and camaraderie amongst the entrepreneur community devoid of any discrimination.
In his attempt to encourage and support entrepreneurship among refugees, Shantanu Prakash has also tied up with a number of renowned corporations, think tanks, policy makers, educational institutions and foundations. Peace Research Institute of Oslo (PRIO), MediaTenor, Invictus Capital, Netherlands Business Academy (NLBA), Mentally Fit Institute (MFI), Nobel Peace Prize Committee, and Gratias Partners, are just to name a few.
The outlook by RVentures ought to provide an impetus to organizations and host countries, amid the growing migration from war-torn countries. However, an inclusive policy still is a node of contention amongst many, the work by RVentures and similar organizations could help build a more umbrella societies.