ACH Bristol wins new Refugee Entrepreneurship Pilot
We are extremely proud and excited to announce that ACH has won funding for a new Refugee Entrepreneurship Support Project pilot in Bristol. Our innovative new project will work directly with refugees and established businesses to deliver the tailored support they need to build successful businesses.
This prestigious funding from the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund will be used to deliver a year-long innovative pilot scheme. Working directly with refugees and established businesses, the pilot will deliver tailored innovative support that will act as a facilitator to potential and existing refugee entrepreneurs.
The pilot will help stimulate new entrepreneurs to accelerate their business start-up plans, with continuous assistance helping them maintain the new direction for their businesses.
Our CEO Fuad Mahamed is excited about the opportunities this pilot will provide for refugee entrepreneurs:
‘This project allows us to help individuals realise their dreams, and at the same time provides the opportunity for existing business support organisations to learn from our lived experience and professional understanding of refugee entrepreneurial requirements’
ACH is one of four organisations across the country to receive government funding for an entrepreneurial pilot project, with the others based in Belfast, East of England and Staffordshire. These four pilots will be managed by the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE), the UK’s entrepreneurship foundation working to make the country more entrepreneurial.
What inspired this project?
Entrepreneurship is integral to the ethos of ACH. It is our aim to reshape and rethink the narratives surrounding refugees.
For the past 11 years the company has worked with refugees to help them integrate and reach their potential in UK society. ACH acts as a facilitator in the refugee integration journey by providing services such as housing, training, employment support, careers advice and now our newest venture into entrepreneurship support.
We work towards integration through supporting refugees into higher-level employment or self-employment, in order to help individuals to reach their full potential.
For Fuad, this approach has been inspired by his own lived experiences:
‘As an entrepreneur myself, I have been keen to see changes within the business support ecosystem so more individuals from refugee communities are able to develop their own businesses. This grant allows us to take forward our innovative plans to build a service for Bristol’s underrepresented communities that is accessible, relevant and focused on their specific cultural and business needs’.
How did we discover the necessity of refugee entrepreneurial support?
Over the past year, ACH has been partnering with Engine Shed, University of Bristol, The West of England Growth Hub and Barton Hill Settlement to research how to provide effective entrepreneurial support to refugee and migrant businesses based in the community. This was an experimental approach with collaboration at its heart.
As part of this collaboration, during the Entrepreneurial Outreach Project, we became acutely aware of the shortage of projects that were fully inclusive to the needs of refugee entrepreneurs. The research brought to light the enormous potential and enthusiasm amongst refugee communities for entrepreneurship.
But at the same time, it glaringly lit up the barriers individuals have to accessing mainstream business support.
The recently completed Entreprenurial Outreach Project discovered key barriers refugees, migrant and BAME entrepreneurs faced when trying to access support, including: lack of trust in some mainstream business support providers, time-limited support and the nature of workshop based training as often ineffective due to English and business language barriers.
This collaboration allowed ACH to forge a unique perspective and understanding of what could be done to make business support work for refugee entrepreneurs.
The Refugee Entrepreneurship Support Pilot
ACH is proud to be a recipient of this Home Office and National Lottery Community Fund grant as it is a recognition of the hard-work and expertise we have built from within the community on refugee integration and entrepreneurship.
It is our unique position as leading thinker and community social enterprise with trusted community connections that allows ACH to turn our knowledge into action and implement the Refugee Entrepreneurship Support Project.
The pilot will deliver a new way of supporting refugee entrepreneurship that builds on and reshapes traditional business support initiatives and tailors them to refugee, migrant and BAME entrepreneurs.
We want to bring the voice of these entrepreneurs into the design of business support initiatives from the onset, to reflect their true ambitions and fulfil their specific needs. Throughout the course of the project, ACH Bristol will engage with over 100 refugees, mostly resident in Bristol and the wider West of England region.
CFE is working with academic partners to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the pilot so that, if successful, it can be implemented more widely in the future.
Oliver Pawle, Chairman of the Centre for Entrepreneurs, says:
‘This pilot is the first step in helping many more refugees rebuild their lives through entrepreneurship’
ACH is excited for the coming year of project delivery and implementation of the Refugee Entrepreneurial Support Project. We are most excited to meet and work with inspiring and innovative refugee entrepreneurs to help them achieve their ambitions and dreams.
As the Home Secretary, Priti Patel said of the Refugee Entrepreneurial Support Project:
‘It is vital that these refugees are given the best chance to flourish. This project will help them to build businesses and make a real success of their new lives in Bristol’