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Refugee entrepreneurs : all roads lead to Montreuil !

On November 12th, FAIRE attended the inauguration of Montreuil’s new refugee entrepreneur incubator, and was introduced to its first cohort. The project is supported by several organisations including La Ruche, The Human Safety Net, BNP Paribas and the city of Montreuil. Here’s what happened during this exciting event !

La Ruche Montreuil : A 9 month support programme for refugee entrepreneurs

The incubator project is the result of a long and painstaking process, as was highlighted by both the team from La Ruche Montreuil and Frédérique Rose Malefant from The Human Safety Net. From the search for the right premises, to the many meetings and the collective commitment of the organisations who have enabled the project to see the light of day, to the final step with the first group of entrepreneurs moving into the space. The main strength of this new programme is the dialogue that has been created between public and private sectors, charities and volunteers.

As of November, La Ruche will be supporting 12 refugee entrepreneurs over a period of 9 months. This comprehensive programme includes a collaborative work space, workshops, training courses, coaching, as well as access to a network of experts who will support the refugees and help them to develop their project, whatever their level of progress.

This incubator is only the first phase of backing from the organisations involved. Their aim is to continue to support the refugee groups and to further develop the project with two additional incubators, including a joint French German programme.

‘The big buzz’: a dynamic pitch aimed at promoting the entrepreneurial projects

The evening continued with ‘the big buzz’ pitch, during which each refugee entrepreneur presented his or her project in a quick one and a half minute pitch.

In addition to presenting the projects, the aim of the pitch was to create a support network. During the cocktail reception (supplied by Meet My Mama), each entrepreneur was invited to communicate his or her needs or difficulties to the individuals present, in order to enlist their help directly, or to be put in touch with someone from their network.

During these presentations we discovered Ishag and his raw material import/export project; Ghaaes and his already launched metal recycling project ; Lacina and his cleaning business; and Amir, whose aim is to propose a targeted client offer for his future auto repair shop.

It was then Oussama’s turn to present his Arabic language teaching project. A second project that uses culture to help with refugee integration was Zina’s theatre and cinema training course.

On the ecology side, both Hagres and Mahame are launching solar energy projects.

‘The big buzz’ concluded with a presentation of Guiti News, the on-line media created by Mortaza, which gives an alternative view of current events; Mohammed’s chicken farm project; Firas’s desire to launch his own architectural firm ; and Carlos’s locally roasted, eco-friendly coffee business.

Although the projects are very diverse, the entrepreneurs have two points in common: their dynamism and their commitment!

Montreuil’s mayor, Mr Patrice Bessac, ended the inauguration evening with a closing speech.

After the project presentations, Patrice Bessac, Montreuil’s mayor, was invited to give a closing speech. During the speech, he highlighted the contrast between the recent evictions from Porte de la Chapelle and the group of refugee entrepreneurs present. He congratulated everyone who fought on a daily basis to make possible the integration of people who have been forced to migrate. He also invited each individual to become an ‘ambassador for renewed social connections’ and to concentrate on the most important factor : to bring humanity together rather than split us apart.

For more information about Montreuil’s incubator or to follow the progress of this ambitious group, don’t hesitate to check out their website!


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