Mini Challenge x Startup Refugees

Last weekend students, asylum seekers and refugees gathered together at Vuorikatu to find solutions for one of the most current challenges in the Finnish society. Startup Refugees presented a wide range of challenges that newcomers face, from the lack of networks to market validation, which need to be settled before being able to successfully start a business here in Finland. They challenged the participants to find a concrete and scalable solution that can help people to set up their own business, and that can be further developed together with Startup Refugees.

Over the weekend, multicultural and interdisciplinary teams created a shared understanding about the issue they wanted to focus on, and developed their solutions. Four teams presented their ideas on Sunday afternoon.

Team Kesätori planned to help refugees with the practicalities when entering the markets: renting the tents and offering qualified trainings, such as hygiene passport, for refugees and pop-up companies, who want to sell their products and services in Finnish summer markets over the country. A wide range of different business sectors from restaurants to barber shops and handicrafts were identified.

Team Angel List started to validate their ideas already on Saturday evening by interviewing their target groups. They are tackling a crucial communication problem: newcomers’ need for localized knowledge and locals limited time to help. They are introducing a digital communication channel between asylum seekers and locals, which can help newcomers to get the crucial information faster.

Team MAZ is going to introduce a detailed, step by step, information and online platform about the process of setting up your own enterprise and offer support in business planning. Finally, team Elites wanted to match up refugees with companies and make it easier to connect with the right people, by organizing events and encouraging to face-to-face communication.

Although many problems such as the lack of a social security number and a residence permit, remained unsolved, they were strongly present in the workshop and in how people had experienced the problems.

The participants were pleased with the workshop and very satisfied with the contents. One of the participants emphasized, how glad he was to have a reason to leave his home and go out. The atmosphere in the workshop was warm and people enjoyed their time. The participants told that they learnt new ways of thinking and stressed their will to attend again in the future. “When I came here today, I expected you to solve my problem, but I learnt how to solve my problems on my own”, said one of the participants. Some people were surprised, how freely they were able to express themselves in the workshop.