Refugee entrepreneurs win £55,000 seed funding to kickstart their business dreams after Dragon’s Den style event.

Tuesday 26th July 2022

Refugee entrepreneurs win £55,000 seed funding to kickstart their business dreams after Dragon’s Den style event.

Following months of hard work and preparation, Mariam Mustafa is beaming with joy after securing funding from the New Dawn Programme to kickstart her new business venture. Her pitch for a women’s driving school providing instruction in the Arabic language impressed the judges and would make it the first of its kind in Yorkshire.

Despite Mariam’s success, her journey hasn’t been easy. As a qualified lawyer in Sudan, she was living a good life until she was forced to flee due to ongoing conflicts in her country. She came to the UK in search of a better life and has overcome many difficulties to get where she is today.

But Mariam wasn’t the only successful participant from the programme. Nine other entrepreneurs were awarded between £1,000 and £7,000 each depending on their business proposals, bringing the total funding amount to £55,300.

New Dawn is an accelerated entrepreneurship programme to help refugees develop their business ideas through focused workshops and mentoring support from successful entrepreneurs in the community. Launched at the University of Bradford in January of this year, the programme also included a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style event where participants pitched their ideas to a panel of judges.

Paul Thorning, Director, Open Innovation (University of Bradford) said: We are so proud of our New Dawn entrepreneurs and the great progress they have made on this accelerated programme. This seed funding from the National Zakat Foundation will make a huge difference in enabling them to take meaningful steps to launch promising new businesses. Above all, successfully completing this programme and receiving this funding reflects our belief in them, and in all the ways that refugees contribute to a more diverse, peaceful and prosperous society.

The initiative is a collaboration between Mercy Mission, The University of Bradford, and the National Zakat Foundation and has helped support refugees from different countries including Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Sudan to work on their business idea.

Sultan Choudhury (OBE), Chair of National Zakat Foundation said: “We’re honoured to support this fantastic initiative and have been really inspired by the tenacity and spirit shown by the entrepreneurs who took part. The programme shows that with the right advice and support, refugees can overcome the adversity they have faced and go on to great things.”

The New Dawn programme supports our work through the Work Fund to help people with skills and qualifications to get a job or increase their income so they can become financially independent.