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Successfully raising funds in 2021 as a refugee and an entrepreneur in France

Too few refugee entrepreneurs are able to raise the funds needed to launch and consolidate their projects. So how can we make financing more accessible to refugees with entrepreneurial projects?

This was the focal point of a webinar held on Thursday, April 29 by our partner SINGA France on the topic of fundraising for refugee entrepreneurs. This panel discussion was attended by the Executive Director of FAIRE Kristina Vayda, Marie Dauvergne, Investment Director of the INCO Venture fund, Anne Gerset, Director of the makesense investment fund and Youssef Oudahman, Co-founder of Meet My Mama. The webinar was extremely instructive thanks to the diversity of its speakers and the institutions they lead.

So how can you succeed in raising funds in 2021 as a refugee, multiethnic or minority entrepreneur in France? Here are a few tips that we retained from the panel discussion.

  • Ask yourself if fundraising is the way to go in order to develop your project :

Raising funds is far from being the only source of financing available and may not be the right solution for all situations. Opening up one's capital is a risky choice that costs money in the long run and implies a partial loss of control of the company. It is a choice that must respond to an identified need and that proves to be favorable for the development stage of the project.

Waiting for the right moment and planning your request for equity financing is all the more necessary as VC (Venture Capital) investors will first look for the proof of concept - which will be through the sales of the product or service. The entrepreneur must be at a stage of development where they are financially self-sufficient before raising money from investment funds.

  • Prepare and plan the fund raising:

To raise funds, the entrepreneur must convince their investors by demonstrating their preparedness as well as their knowledge of the economic market and the environment in which they operate. The ability of the entrepreneur to be surrounded by a good team, to find and build a good network with support programs are also important evaluation criteria for potential investors. For Marie Dauvergne of INCO Ventures, fundraising is also a marathon in which one must master the rules. Good timing and planning are therefore essential for a successful capital opening. The worst time to launch a fundraising strategy is when funds are no longer sufficient and in response to an urgent lack of cash flow, one turns to investors.

  • Choose your partners and investors well:

The choice of future partners and investors is crucial for the future development of the entrepreneurial project. Fundraising is a partnership with investors who are going to be involved and present; it is therefore essential to conscientiously choose your investors and partners in order to work with trustworthy actors who share the same values. There are many investors who would be willing to invest in projects led by refugee entrepreneurs, but approaching them requires good planning and upstream research to know their preferred investment areas.

  • Knowing how to value one's migratory background and business-oriented assets:

Coming from an immigrant background is a strength and a business asset that entrepreneurs with a migratory background should value. For Youssef Oudahman, the diversity of nationalities and experiences generates collective intelligence, data, and unique comparative advantages that allow operating on markets that are no longer accessible to more traditional markets. Migrant project leaders have a different way of approaching certain problems and a unique ability to visualize needs based on their experiences.

Project financing during COVID-19:

Opinions differ on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the financing of associations and start-ups led by refugees in France. For Anne Gerset, the sourcing flow has picked up and private funding structures are increasingly willing to finance impact projects led by refugees. This is a nuanced observation according to Kristina Vayda, Executive Director of FAIRE, who points out that the crisis has nevertheless had an impact on the charitable sector, as far as foundations, endowment funds and the associations that depend on them for their donations are concerned.

It is therefore still possible in 2021 for a refugee entrepreneur to undertake and raise funds. But to be successful in raising funds, one must make smart decisions, pay attention to timing, find the right investors and partners, make the most of one's migratory journey and be well informed about the networks available in France.

If you are interested in this topic and want to watch the conference again, please click on this link:


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