Welcome to our new CFE summer newsletter!


As you will know, we are now officially called The Centre for Entrepreneurs, home of the NEF Fast Track, with bold new branding and a new website. This is the next step in our integration journey which moves us towards our goal of being the UK’s leading entrepreneurship foundation.

It’s been a busy few months for us – see the NEF Fast Track Class of 2019 finish their year, launching our first global refugee entrepreneurship survey and winning a significant government grant to lead a pilot programme to develop refugee entrepreneurs in the UK.
You can read full details of our news, plus more, below.

Please do get in touch if you have any comments on our newsletters. For those of you heading off to sunnier climes, I wish you a restful break and if, like us, you’re working throughout the summer, please do drop into our offices for a glass of something chilled if you’re in or around Shoreditch.


Best wishes,


Jump into:


Refugee pilot project

NEF Fast Track Programme: Class of 2019 Update

CVC Young Innovator Awards 2019

NEF Fast Track Programme: Class of 2020 Update

Refugee Entrepreneurship Network

CFE Events

Donor update

CFE Team news


Refugee Pilot Project


It’s been a long time in the preparation, but we’re delighted to announce that on 22nd July, CFE announced a national pilot programme – backed by the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund – to train and support 90 refugee entrepreneurs, in 3 different UK locations, over the next 18 months.

The objective of the pilot is to find and test different approaches to supporting refugees in starting and growing their own businesses. The grant is the direct result of the publication of our report last year on refugee entrepreneurs and the Centre’s success in creating and growing a global community of refugee entrepreneur support organisations.

The pilot formally launched with a kick-off summit on 22nd July, with a keynote speech from Mark Thomson, director general of UK Visas and Immigration, and contributions from The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network, refugee-turned-entrepreneur Fuad Mahamed of integration charity ACH, and NyforetagarCentrum, the Swedish network of enterprise agencies.

Potential delivery partners are now preparing project proposals for evaluation, and we expect to award delivery contracts in early October. The project is a significant achievement for the Centre, validating our research findings and if successful, has the potential to grow into a far larger national delivery programme.


Mark Thompson
Mark Thompson – director general, HM Passport Office, registrar general for England and Wales, director general, UK Visas and Immigration speaking at the CFE Refugee Entrepreneurship Pilot


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NEF Fast Track Programme: Class of 2019 Update


The NEF Class of 2019 completed their NEF year in June, our 8th cohort, and now join our extensive alumni network of over 300 ‘NEFers’.
The pace of the programme accelerated in the closing months as the cohort focused on finalising and delivering their pitches.

Closing Workshop 27th June 2019
Dee Stirling, Neeta Patel, Richard Cull-Thomas, Véronique Rapetti and Sabina Samek with the Class of 2019


Our invited judges saw 32 pitches, which included a number of alumni businesses. The variety of business ideas had the same diversity as in past years – we saw emotion-sensing headphones, recyclable power banks, EdTech, fashion and more. The winners of the David Pearl Pitch Prize 2019 were:

– Finn Sims, ReLi – phone power banks constructed from recycled materials;

– Shana Gujral, Bourbon Streat – bringing the taste of New Orleans to the UK;

– Katie Lewendon, Wedminute – AI-powered wedding planning;

– James Darby, Fireside Foods – nutritious, affordable home meals for an ageing population

We wish them all the best as they launch and scale their ventures!

David Pearl Pitch Prize NEF Fast Track 2019
David Pearl Pitch Prize Winners 2019; James Darby, Shana Gurjal, Katie Lewendon, Finn Sims with Neeta Patel and David Pearl


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CVC Young Innovator Awards 2019


Our long-standing supporters CVC Capital Partners again ran their Young Innovators awards in June, where four NEFer-founded businesses pitched for up to £40,000 of grants, to senior members of the CVC management team.

The proud winners of grants of £20,000 each were:

– Adapt – a new student revision tracking app and platform, CPO Maud Millar (Class of 2019)

– Art-K – extra-curricular art tuition for 5-16 year olds, MD Emily Harper (Class of 2019)

Special commendations also go to Female Founders Fair – Eleanor Hudson and Amelia Wollaston (both Class of 2019) and Pumponomics – James Pie (Class of 2018). All of these businesses will receive mentoring support from CVC along with business case assistance from Bain Consulting.

We are grateful to CVC for their long term support and their commitment to developing young entrepreneurs.


CVC Young Innovator Award 2019 Winners
Maud Millar and Emily Harper with Véronique Rapetti


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NEF Fast Track Programme: Class of 2020 Update

We have recruited the next cohort of NEF Fast Track participants – our ninth – and are now actively looking for placement opportunities in entrepreneurial and fast-growth partner companies.

The NEF Fast Track Class of 2020 begin their journey in September. We are currently focused on placing this talented and diverse group of young entrepreneurs in partner companies, and are looking for roles that NEFers could take in scaling businesses as part of their NEF year.

If you know of a potential partner company that would benefit from developing a NEFer please contact our placement lead Robin Maitland (robin@centreforentrepreneurs.org).

Read more about becoming a partner company here


Class of 2020

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Refugee entrepreneurship network


The pace of activity in REN is accelerating – we have confirmed the next global summit, which will take place on 31st October 2019, hosted by NatWest. This will allow us to convene 140 practitioners, policy makers, academics and philanthropists.

In recent months, we have welcomed NyforetagarCentrum of Sweden, Migraflex of Brazil, Sis Ventures of Finland and Leet Hub of Germany to the network.

In late-June, we launched the first global refugee entrepreneurship study, supported by the Paris-based Faire foundation, which REN members are responding to. This will be the first study of its kind to collate and compare entrepreneurship activity and programmes across the globe. We plan to publish findings and recommendations in late-September.

Refugee Entrepreneurship Network
Tara Shoup-Paulsson, Programme and research development manager at NyföretagarCentrum


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CFE Events


We held our annual summer party on 2nd July, kindly hosted by Rothschild & Co. on their spectacular roof terrace. We were delighted to welcome over 160 guests from across the entrepreneurship ecosystem who enjoyed the evening sunshine and views across the city. Guests were subjected to speeches from our chairman Oliver Pawle, from me and Jake van Beever of Rothschild, along with the formal presentation of the David Pearl pitch prize awards.

My attempt at some off the cuff humour made it into that Sunday’s Prufrock column

summer party 2019 cfe-events


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Donor Update


We are delighted to announce three new donors who each bring new experience and entrepreneurial expertise from a wide range of sectors.  We are delighted that they have joined us!

  • Vin Murria OBE has become a CFE Patron. Vin is a highly successful entrepreneur and is currently Partner at Elderstreet Investments.
  • Burberry, the luxury fashion brand, has come on board as a premium corporate supporter.
  • Amitis Partners and Monica Monajem also join us as a premium corporate donor and Patron – Monica is a successful entrepreneur and is Managing Director of Amitis Partners, a family office.

See all our donors here.

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CFE Team News

James Powell, operations manager, left us at the end of May, after nearly 4 years with NEF he decided to take the summer off, and is currently learning to surf in Bali, before returning to start a new career in coding.

Michael Patrikalakis, lead researcher, left in early June to join the Liberal Democrats as a policy researcher.

Frieda Andres has been promoted to lead researcher, and we welcome Patrick Swain who joins us on 29th July as research assistant.


CFE NEF Team Photo
CFE team (from left): Sabina Samek, Neeta Patel, Richard Cull-Thomas, Matt Smith, James Powell, Véronique Rapetti, Frieda Andres, Michael Patrikalakis, Robin Maitland


I hope that you’ve found this update useful and topical, and that you’re looking forward to re-charging over the summer. Our next update will be published in the autumn.

As always, I thank our donors and supporters without whom our work would not be possible.

Best wishes