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Startup Refugees

We don’t have jobs, but let’s create them together

This year tens of thousands of people have arrived in Finland, into a totally new business and working culture. They have travelled a long way, and this has changed their perceptions and opened their minds for new ways of thinking. Now these minds full of potential are staying in reception centers without much to do, up to even a year.

So, instead of passivating the asylum seekers, shouldn’t we work together towards an active society where their potentials and skills are in good use? The asylum seekers are educated people mainly from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. They are teachers and engineers, coders and translators. You name it!

”We don’t have jobs, but let’s create them together”, said Riku Rantala, a co-founder of Startup Refugees network and a journalist. This is what Startup Refugees network tries to solve in the long run. In a couple of years the ideal situation would be Finland having new companies and startups employing asylum seekers, immigrants and Finns. To fulfill this dream the Startup Refugees network will harness the potential of asylum seekers by visiting reception centers with the help of hundreds of volunteers to survey their skills. This work has already started in Helsinki and in Central Finland.

Reception centers are the stepping stone for life in Finland for many, but they are no easy place to stay. Imagine yourself staying in a room with 20 people for an unknown amount of time without privacy. It is extremely important that the centers be active and safe places for innovations and trying out new ideas. Firstly, Startup Refugees entrepreneurs will start in reception centers as barbers, shop keepers and coordinators.

The Startup Refugees network does its best to provide asylum seekers with a path to entrepreneurship. An asylum seeker who has participated in a hygiene certificate exam through the Startup Refugees Network can work in the cafeteria of their center. With the experience gained they can work in a restaurant and later start their own business employing others. ”The Finnish restaurant culture will definitely be enriched with the work of the Startup Refugees network”, said of one our sponsors. This totally applies to other fields as well.

What if Finland’s new Nokia could be found from this diverse crowd? The cultural backgrounds of the asylum seekers are now collaborating with Finnish ideas. From this new space of thought, new ideas are sure to arise. This space just needs to be harnessed, which is why Startup Refugees will start business incubators, and with the mentors of the network the ideas will be developed and pushed forward.

We must not forget how important employment and entrepreneurship are when looking at integration. Integration plays an important role in people’s happiness but also against radicalisation. The earlier the integration process starts the better one will understand the new place of residence and will be able to mingle between different cultural notions. In today’s world order it is vital to provide help to asylum seekers transitioning into Finnish society. We cannot leave the skills of others to fade, on the contrary, the skills need to be supported and encouraged as part of integration into Finland’s economic future.

Listen more about Startup Refugees during their presentation at TWINKLE Tools on Tuesday December, 8th.

Startup Refugees


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