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Back My Business

How hundreds of refugee entrepreneurs are turning their business ideas into reality

Photo: Elena Heatherwick/IRC

“Everyone has ideas – refugees, citizens – it’s important to have help to make your dream come true.” Moussa, who aspires to set up the first Ivorian restaurant in Athens. 

Moussa is one of the hundreds of refugee entrepreneurs whose business idea is being turned into a business venture as part of the International Rescue Committee’s Back My Business campaign with the Citi Foundation.

Refugee Moussa's dream is to turn his culinary skills into a business and open the first Ivorian restaurant in Greece. Photo: Elena Heatherwick/IRC

Over the course of the next six months we will introduce you to nine entrepreneurs who have big ambitions to carve out their own successful businesses. Each of them will receive mentoring and seed-funding to help them achieve their goals. Many of the entrepreneurs who are part of the programme have fled conflict and persecution and are now living in new cities. Their businesses represent a fresh start and opportunity to not just survive but thrive in the countries they now call home.  

Moussa’s business idea was inspired by his childhood in Ivory Coast and his friends’ demands for his tasty Ivorian food. He plans to open a restaurant called ‘Our Home’, which will bring people together through the power of food and open minds about his culture. Discover more about Moussa

How does it all work? 

The Citi Foundation and the IRC have teamed up to back 1000 refugee entrepreneurs in Amman, Athens and Yola, Nigeria.

These young entrepreneurs across three cities are building business plans in efforts to secure seed funding for their start-ups.  

The participants have fled war and persecution and are establishing themselves in new cities that they now call home. 

Before receiving the funds, each entrepreneur will take part in an Apprentice-style business programme: receiving mentoring, training and acquiring knowledge about the needs of the local market. 

The business plans deemed most likely to succeed by a panel of entrepreneurs and financiers will receive seed funding to kick-start their enterprise. Those not funded will be introduced to mentors and other resources. 

The Citi Foundation-backed programme is delivered by the IRC and local partners to boost economies that host large numbers of refugees.