Two thousand refugees seeking asylum from Syria, Iraq and other countries arrived on the shores of Greece every day in most months of 2015, a six-fold increase since 2014. This was the beginning of StartupBoat, the mobile incubator that eventually resulted in the creation of the Cloud Nation.
Because startups look at a problem as an opportunity, they see a gap and attempt to fill it. They do that with imagination. They do it with creativity. A system is applied, usually with technology, to develop a scalable solution for the challenge.
We came up with Startup Boat: Migration to specifically develop ways to make it easier for refugees to access information, and settle in their new home countries, or set about travelling to another. Out of political and social necessities, we’re bringing the approach to the United States.
Throughout our upcoming Startupboat session, a team of twenty entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and executives are invited to assess the parameters to expand First-Contact.org to the United States.
First-Contact.org, will provide basic, but vital information about how and where refugees can register for residency cards in the United States, where they can access food, shelter, medical aid, and transport. Just like it does in other parts of the world.
Solutions like First-Contact are fundamental and most importantly, free.
Local refugees in affected regions of the United States will help test First-Contact.org on the spot in the new regions to ensure proof of concept.
Migration Hubs are co-work spaces where anyone dealing with aspects of the global migration movement/ crisis can work.
It’s likely that we would benefit much from having a central place to meet in the United States also, because many of the initiatives that are built to work in one region are growing into others.
We also aim to host workshops for refugees, providing psychological support, bringing together entrepreneurs with NGO’s and other stakeholders to figure out how different initiatives can be pushed forward.
The best ideas will enter a program to scale called Startupaid, and link them with social investors. Another part of Migration Hub is aimed at understanding what the community wants and needs. Entrepreneurs run workshops advising other entrepreneurs how they can help.
Entrepreneurs bring something that those typically deployed to work in a crisis situation lack: An entrepreneur can build a structure that can sustain itself financially, an NGO can execute the project and the activist can really drive the project further operationally.
Startup Boat will host it’s first hackathon in the United States next month, and is privately recruiting participants from entrepreneurial, VC and similar backgrounds.
Ultimately, refugees themselves will be part of long-range solutions because they have taken such a high risk to get out of a bad situation, to create possibilities for themselves. It’s not that they didn’t have it before, many are very financially stable, very well educated and many speak good English. Many would never have left if it wasn’t so bad so they have a life to rebuild and they have dreams and they have the spirit and the drive of entrepreneurs and they actually are entrepreneurs because they found themselves in a difficult situation and they did something about it. That’s why we should continue to see this phenomenon as a chance to welcome a highly capable workforce, rather than a problem.
Register for the first Startupboat session in San Diego on August 22nd, 2021 here.