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New scheme turns dreams into reality for Bradford refugees


The University of Bradford is working with Mercy Mission and National Zakat Foundation (NZF) to help entrepreneur refugees develop new business ideas and turn their dreams of creating their own business into a reality.

The new accelerated entrepreneurship programme will help refugees in the Bradford community by offering an initial workshop to help develop business ideas, followed by a period of mentoring and then a further workshop to hone their skills, leading to a real ‘Dragon’s Den’ investor forum.

New Dawn initiative will be making seed funding to support the new venture and the Bradford City of Film team will be recording a documentary of the refugees’ entrepreneurial journey, with a Film Premiere celebration planned in the summer.

Mentors on the project are themselves entrepreneurs that started with nothing and built their business up, including names such as My Lahore, Regal Bakery, Enkahnz, WebSquare, Platinum Property and Kunafa Tea.

The participants in the programme come from a range of countries including Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Sudan and have a variety of backgrounds including Engineering, Forensic Science, Pharmacology, teaching, community workers, accountancy, athletics and dentistry.

Professor Shirley Congdon, Vice-Chancellor at the University of Bradford said: “The University of Bradford has a successful track record of nurturing and supporting entrepreneurship, not only in its students, but in the local community and beyond. We are extremely proud to be working with this group of inspirational people who have overcome so much already, and I look forward to seeing how their business ideas develop and grow over the coming months.”

Ayesha Javaid, Head of Finance and Development at Mercy Mission U.K said: “it’s wonderful to be cooperating with our local university and diverse parts of our civil society working together for a brighter future for all.”

The programme was launched at the University on Thursday 27 January where participants, partners, sponsors and mentors were given the opportunity to meet and hear more about the project.