The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network (TERN) recently joined NACCOM as an Associate Member. It is a national project with headquarters in London, and we were grateful for TERN’s Director, Charlie Fraser, taking some time to explain a bit more about what TERN does and how it works.

1) How long has TERN been going, and where and how does it operate?

TERN is 12 months old this month and was set up to promote entrepreneurship as a pathway for refugees facing unemployment and underemployment. We are based in London, but operate nationwide through incubator programmes that are designed to give participants access to the networks and finance needed to launch a business.

We launched our first full programme in February 2017.

2) What are the biggest challenges and opportunities that you currently face?

Within the UK, there is a misleading narrative of refugees as helpless and unable to contribute to society, which contributes to high unemployment rates of refugees and poor integration into host communities.

TERN recognises and promotes the high potential for refugees to be included into the economic market as innovative and talented individuals.

Through providing support for refugees in the creation and development of their own businesses, TERN aims to do to two things: firstly, improve the lives of individual refugees in the UK and reduce unemployment rates. Secondly, begin to change the public perception of refugees’ capacities through demonstrating their skill and creativity as individuals.

The biggest challenge for us is around refining our methodology such that it has maximum impact for our participants, allowing them to access a clear business development pathway without feeling patronised.

Our biggest opportunity comes from the emerging corporate interest in creating and support sustainable models for refugee inclusion in the UK.

3) What is the long term impact of your programmes?

Refugees emerge from the Incubator programme with business skills, networks and access to finance. Developing their business with TERN will provide them with two kinds of substantial long-term impacts: it will provide them with an income source and reduce their risk of future unemployment, whist also integrating them into their local society and business community through the partnership with their mentor.

4) Can you give us any examples?

Ahmad is a London-based Syrian from Aleppo and a catering entrepreneur. He has been in the UK for 18 months. With support from the TERN programme, Ahmad wants to eventually start a restaurant and social space where British people, other migrants and refugees can come together, to share food, culture, dance and music. He has begun with the ‘Aleppo Supper Club‘.

4) How did you find out about NACCOM, and is there anything specific we can help you with at this time?

We were made aware of NACCOM through Refugees At Home, who cited it as a fantastic resource to refer participants of ours who are struggling with their housing situation. For us the main area we are looking for support is through being able to make direct referrals through NACCOM to ease the housing challenges our entrepreneurs frequently struggle with.

For more information about TERN, visit their website or download this overview of their programme.