Startups Without Borders supports refugee and migrant entrepreneurs, helping them connect to the startup ecosystem
According to UNHRC (UN Refugee Agency), there are more than 25 million refugees in the world. Amongst these 25 million refugees could be some of the most brilliant minds that mankind has had to offer. There could be the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg that is never going to fulfil his/her potential because of the environment that they’ve been dealing with. Jobs or Zuckerberg were not refugees and had an appropriate environment which allowed them to grow, however these 25 million refugees do not have that environment.
This is where 34 years old Argentinian Journalist Valentina Primo’s idea known as Startups Without Borders (SWB) came in.
After moving to Egypt 6 years ago, Valentina found how biased the media was towards Middle East and started looking for successful startups. She commented, “I found hundreds of entrepreneurs who were creating new realities, and were taking it upon themselves to create a new future for their countries.”
Primo soon took a radical approach for her search. She started to look out and engage with refugee entrepreneurs. This proved to be a pivotal decision in her career and from there stemmed the idea of SWB.
During her initial research, Primo had realized that the media plays a crucial role in developing the environment for businesses. That is when she decided to launch SWB in order to become a media platform where refugee entrepreneurs shared their stories.
However, soon the word spread and more people ended up using the platform, developing SWB into a global community. Primo highlighted 3 major issues faced by refugee and migrant entrepreneurs: Lack of networks, connections and awareness of the startup ecosystem. She saw the need of bringing these people together so that they could share their ideas and connect to the startup ecosystem, therefore started holding events in Cairo, and now in Italy.
Even though the aim of SWB was never to become a website that teaches its community how to become a successful entrepreneur, they now hold workshops on the topic. According to Primo, “We offer workshops, we do pitching competitions, and we always partner with local incubators.”
The SWB community continues to grow and so does the activities on the platform. Recently it started a podcast with influential industry personals. Hopefully, somewhere in a refugee camp, a child listens to these podcasts and grows up to become the next big name in the industry.