Catalyzing Entrepreneurship to Flip the Script on Refugee Assistance
The international community is struggling to effectively respond to the challenges posed by protracted conflicts including the global refugee crisis. With finite resources to respond to mass migration, social tensions arise as perceptions persist that migrant communities take pieces of the pie away from host communities.
We're flipping the script on that narrative. The LIFE Project believes that supporting entrepreneurs expands opportunities for refugees and their host communities alike. Within the Food Enterprise Centers (FECs), members of both communities come together to grow the pie, literally and figuratively. By opening new businesses, creating jobs, and generating revenue, refugees are agents of economic growth in their host countries.
With relatively low barriers to entry, the food sector offers a unique opportunity for refugee entrepreneurs to put down social and economic roots in their host communities. By creating food businesses, refugee entrepreneurs not only contribute to the local economy; they also share their own culinary heritage with their new neighbors. Meanwhile, Turkish food entrepreneurs can learn and grow their own ventures by connecting with their counterparts from refugee communities. Through the shared language of food, refugees and host communities can form cross-cultural ties that may not otherwise exist.
As conflict and climate change continue to force migration around the world, long-term solutions to support refugees are becoming increasingly necessary. It is clear that many of these refugees will remain in their host communities for indefinite periods of time, well beyond the capacity of traditional approaches to refugee assistance.
Now is the time to reimagine refugee assistance to meet this growing need. It is the time to test, validate, and scale new approaches with a mind towards sustainability, opportunity, agency, dignity, and hope.
In three short years, the LIFE Project’s Entrepreneur Incubation program has graduated 12 cohorts of refugee and host community members, offering training, opportunities for financial support, and access to commercial kitchen space and professional advisors. Through participation in this initiative, our members build the skills, knowledge, and networks to launch their ventures.
Together, we are helping communities put food on the tables of our members and their customers.