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The RSC Director talks to The Guardian

Economic zones can play important role but are not an alternative to asylum in europe alexander betts

Today, in an article titled ‘Refugees turned entrepreneurs’, The Guardian focuses on some of the entrepreneurial refugees in the UK, and the challenges they face.

For example, Edin Basic, a Bosnian refugee, arrived in the UK unable to speak English but went on to co-found gourmet pizza company Firezza with fellow Bosnian refugee Adnan Medjedovic.  Razan Alsous, a Syrian refugee, used a start-up loan of £2,500 from the Local Enterprise Agency to set up Yorkshire Dama Cheese in 2014.

Alexander Betts, RSC Director, comments in the article: “Around the world, refugees face significant restrictions on their economic lives…Most of the world’s refugees are not allowed to work. For those that are, there are other challenges: language, non-recognition of foreign qualifications, discrimination all pose barriers to finding a job. Refugees also face additional challenges in registering businesses and accessing banking facilities. But in spite of this, many refugees do set up small businesses, sometimes in the informal sector [self-employment].”

Highlighting how refugees can be ‘natural entrepreneurs’, he says: “For any migrant, it takes a certain amount of enterprise to be able to leave your home and travel to a new country. But for refugees there is the additional need to adapt: when people are forced to flee they have to adapt – to new social networks, new markets, and new regulation.”

He further highlights the need for a more auspicious environment for budding business owners, for example, “regulating against discrimination by banks, and supporting business incubators”.

The article also speaks to the co-founder of The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network (TERN), Charlie Fraser. TERN helps refugees in self-employment and setting up their own company in the UK, with programmes offering access to business mentoring and expert advice.

Read the article here >>

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