CFE hosts award-winning Australian refugee entrepreneurship incubator

From left to right: Michael Patrikalakis (CFE); Usman Iftikhar (Catalysr); Matt Smith (CFE); Charlie Fraser (TERN); Robert Osborne (CFE).

On Friday, the Centre for Entrepreneurs brought together two international leaders in refugee entrepreneurship: Charlie Fraser, co-founder of The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network (TERN) based in London, and Usman Iftikhar, co-founder of Sydney-based incubator Catalysr.

The meeting was in follow-up to the Centre’s latest report, Starting Afresh: How entrepreneurship is transforming the lives of resettled refugees, in which both organisations featured as case studies.

TERN is the UK’s first incubator exclusively for refugees. It boasts one of the most comprehensive programmes of its kind globally, providing everything from work experience and pre-incubation, to micro-finance solutions. TERN will soon see its 70th participant graduate, and is in the process of expanding its pre-incubation service to Germany and the Netherlands, in partnership with Ben & Jerry’s.

Catalysr has been equally successful on the other side of the globe. Running for nearly three years, it has established itself as an entry point to Australia’s startup ecosystem, helping refugees launch ventures in sectors ranging from AI to the food industry.

Just this week, Catalysr’s impact was recognised on the international stage: Usman received the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year award from HRH Prince Harry at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, held in London. This serves to highlight the potential of refugee entrepreneurship as a force for social integration and economic growth.

With the world’s refugee population at a post-WWII high, programmes like TERN and Catalysr have sprung up across the world to empower displaced people through business. In the meeting, CFE and the two incubators reaffirmed their plans for an international network that will facilitate innovation and broaden the impact of refugee entrepreneurship programmes. The network aims to convene a global summit this Autumn, where refugee incubators can exchange best practice, create partnerships and form a unified voice for the sector. 

TERN and Catalysr have already scheduled to follow up with an in-depth analysis of their programmes, with a view to improving their support and tackling common challenges.