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Expanding virtual incubators to assist refugees and other marginalized persons to develop economic sustainability

The COVID-19 pandemic caused radical changes to markets, consumers and supply chains, particularly impacting small and micro businesses. Concurrently, climate change and war have radically increased refugee populations worldwide. . Lacking local social capital, financial capital, and an understanding of their new local marketplaces, refugee small and micro businesses are at a distinct disadvantage. Particularly at risk are micro firms owned by women, minorities, and persons with disabilities. Many of their businesses have closed due to the pandemic.

A study developed under this project will compare two refugee communities from two different continents, structures, and cultures: Ukrainian refugees living in Poland and African refugees living in refugee camps in Kenya. A model of incubation to develop entrepreneurship and leadership will be disseminated and adapted to each specific context. It will be community-oriented, environmentally sensitive, inexpensive, and widely available. Its research focus will be on enhancing self-efficacy and sustainability. It will build entrepreneurial capacity in marginalized refugee communities in Kenya while encouraging community engagement across the Global North and South using enhanced digital techniques.

It will use a ”train the trainers” approach, studying and supporting refugee communities in Europe and Africa, and develop a novel digital community currency to facilitate micro-lending investment between global citizens and marginalized refugees. This will enhance research on digital services and support the economic sustainability of refugee women, youth and persons living with disabilities in Kenya through entrepreneurship-related knowledge and skills development and adapting virtual incubator curricula to develop small and micro businesses.

Project ID
Project Status
24 months
IDRC Officer
Martha Mutisi
Total Funding
CA$ 199,057.00
Institution Country
McMaster University

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