July 21, 2020. The entire world, and subsequently the global economy, has been struck by the COVID-19 health crisis. As a result, a large number of entrepreneurs were forced to face an immediate slow down or shut down of their activity. For refugee entrepreneurs, who encounter additional challenges every day, specifically concerning access to networks and funding, the impact of this crisis was twice as detrimental. Aware of these difficulties and wanting to support the extraordinary drive of these entrepreneurs, FAIRE, SINGA France and the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations decided to join forces to create an emergency fund in response to COVID-19.
An emergency fund to support innovative entrepreneurs
Creating this emergency fund required patience and determination, and was driven by the partners’ common ambition to continue to pursue their shared mission: supporting newcomers and refugee entrepreneurs. Since the beginning of the health crisis, we have sought to determine their needs and anticipate the consequences COVID-19 will have on entrepreneurs’ activity. Once again, the question of funding proved paramount.
This emergency fund draws on the expertise of SINGA France which supports a new group of entrepreneurs each year. This exceptional funding will benefit refugee entrepreneurs whose activity has slowed down, who lack funds, who have lost previous funding or who are ineligible for government assistance. Support will be awarded as subsidies or donations to entrepreneurs who are currently or were previously part of the SINGA Acceleration program, co-created in 2018 by SINGA France and the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations.
An extraordinary panel to assess needs and reveal the winners
Given the current circumstances, the emergency fund’s panel took place by videoconference on Thursday June 4th.
After a presentation of the requests and a discussion of applicants’ needs, the panel chose to support 7 projects, working in different sectors: metal recycling, catering, social housing, integration through cultural means, etc.
The entrepreneurs will soon receive their funding as well as increased non-financial support from all of the fund’s stakeholders in order to help them overcome the crisis and continue to develop their potential for growth and impact.
“The emergency fund is a concrete response to the economic consequences affecting the SINGA Accceleration recipients as well as a call to shift the narrative around migrant led entrepreneurship, which now more than ever offers added-value and solutions for future societies. Everyone must take action during this crisis and work together to get ready for what comes next.”
Firoz Ladak – CEO of Edmond de Rothschild Foundations
“Entrepreneurs who have experienced forced migration bring ideas and innovation to the table. They confront risks head-on with determination, and yet, don’t always having access to funding that locals are eligible for. Through its missions, FAIRE continually strives to reduce the inequalities faced by these entrepreneurs. With the health crisis, entrepreneurs from forced migration backgrounds were once again excluded from the French government’s assistance because of their status. When the chance to take action in collaboration with the Edmond de Rothschild Foundation and SINGA France presented itself, FAIRE and its president Nick Nopporn Suppipat, himself a refugee entrepreneur, seized the opportunity.”
Kristina Vayda, Executive Director of FAIRE
“Displaced people run into problems they have to resolve all by themselves. When the crisis hit, dozens of refugees called us to say, ’I fled war – I can survive a lockdown.’ I think this is how newcomers reshape our societies, not just by making them more equitable, but also by reexamining marketing, local economies and how we eat, think and change. We just need to design the tools and create the necessary spaces for newcomers to enrich our society. If we keep treating them like victims, we are going to lose a large part of that talent. That’s the reason key players like FAIRE, the Edmond de Rothschild Foundations and SINGA came together.”
Alice Barbe, CEO and Co-founder of SINGA