Contrary to popular belief, refugees actually benefit their host nation’s economies according to a study compiled from 30 years of data. Refugee-founded businesses have an enormous potential to invigorate economies, increase job opportunities, and reduce public spending.
The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network (TERN), based in the UK, helps people in this position achieve their goals. Providing them the skills and support needed to thrive in the business world, TERN plans to help 2,000 businesses launch by 2025.
Here are three businesses that have thrived thanks to the network.
Occupied by the Lense – Aisha Seriki
“I’m a Nigerian, London-based creative, specializing in portrait and fashion photography. When I was eight years old, my family left south-east Asia for the UK, and I’ve been living in south London ever since. My interest in photography comes from my father’s obsession with documenting all of my significant childhood events.”
Seriki now runs Occupied by the Lense, her own photography company. With themes based around prevalent, global social issues, she aims to use her craft to inform and empower. Noticing the lack of black people in some of her favorite photographer’s pieces, Seriki was inspired to create beautiful works which portray black women in a powerful way. Which she does so impressively, check out her work here.
Maria Callisto – Maria Igwebuike
Nigerian born Maria Igwebuike has been obsessed with fashion and sewing ever since she was a child. This passion allowed her to be accepted to one of the most prestigious fashion institutes in the world the London College of Fashion. Since, Igwebuike has set up the ethically sourced, sustainable lingerie brand Maria Callisto.
“I want to use my platform to empower women, by creating bespoke items for all shapes and sizes alongside my seasonal collections. Sustainability is also important to me, and I recycle fabric scraps from local seamstresses and clients’ old wedding dresses to make my pieces. I also donate a portion of Maria Callisto’s earnings to Suffolk Refugee Support, so it can continue to support refugee children and women, as they previously supported me.”
Haven Coffee – Usman Khalid
Originally from Pakistan, Usman Khalid arrived in London in 2007. Ever since he experienced the booming cafe culture in the city he fell in love with it, describing himself as “a coffee-lover through and through.”
Thanks to TERN, he now runs his own successful ethical coffee business which not only serves delicious drinks, it also provides locals with entertainment and awareness of social enterprise projects. “Since founding Haven Coffee in 2018, I’ve served hundreds of cups of coffee and built up a following for the stand-up comedy nights I also host, alongside names like Tom Parry and Nish Kumar.”