Public Work Space

Moulana Entrepreneurial Refugee Network

British history is littered with examples of entrepreneurial success that are now household names in our everyday lives. What we’ve found is that refugees all share the virtues of courage, resilience and determination - key traits required by any entrepreneur. Some are naturally entrepreneurial and have previous experience. For others, the experience of escaping from their home country, persevering through the asylum process, then facing discrimination in the labour market intensifies their entrepreneurial capabilities and pushes them towards self employment Famous or not, refugees bring much more than their belongings with them to their new countries

With a dedicated team of enterprise professionals with a wide range of work-based and start-up experience, committed to helping refugees explore and develop their ideas, turning them into reality. 


 We   will be launching a Startup School, offering intensive experiential learning programs and a support system to aspiring entrepreneurs. We do this by involving the business community, governmental institutions and partner organizations. 

We leverage experiential learning experiences, networking, mentoring and consultation as our main learning tools with the aim to inspire a change of perspective and help our participants to realize their potential. In doing so, startups and new innovations may also result, whilst also contributing towards diversity and inclusion.

The societal challenge of migration integration

As the year 2020 dawned, according to the UNHCR’s latest report, some 79.5 million people had been forced from their homes due to persecution, conflict, and human rights violations. In 2019, 676 300 asylum seekers applied for international protection in the 27 current Member States of the European Union.

 The UK offered protection – in the form of asylum, humanitarian protection, alternative forms of leave and resettlement – to 20,339 people in the year ending March 2020, 

North West Statistics

In September 2020, there were a total of 9541 asylum seekers placed in dispersed accommodation located in the North West. The following shows the distribution by sub-region.


March 2020

  • Greater Manchester


  • Liverpool City Region


  • Lancashire


  • Cheshire and Warrington


 Support provided to asylum seekers

At the end of September 2020, 46,520 asylum seekers in the UK were in receipt of support under Section 95 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, Of these, 42,389 (91%) were in receipt of both accommodation and subsistence, and 4,131 (9%) in receipt of subsistence only. More than four fifths (83%) were located in England, with smaller supported populations in Scotland (9%), Wales (6%) and Northern Ireland (2%).

An additional 6,074 individuals were in receipt of support under Section 4 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999, providing support where a claim has been rejected, up 57% from the previous year (3,857).

While governments mostly focus their efforts on employment and language education by default, we believe that unleashing entrepreneurial spirit amongst newcomers is a powerful tool to deepen integration - and a 'must have’ in every integration ecosystem. 

Entrepreneurship as a mean and an end

 Our entrepreneurial experimental approach builds professional capabilities, self confidence and encourages social inclusion through our diverse community base, which empowers newcomers to engage with their new local communities

  Moulana Entrepreneurial Refugee Network (  MERN) will provide a mix of coaching, mentoring and training; entrepreneurs will get help from ‘enterprise facilitators’ to fine-tune their ideas, and will be assigned a mentor and have access to specialist advisors when needed. The scheme also puts a big emphasis on role models where accomplished refugee businesspeople will share their experiences and lessons learned – from both success and failure

 MERN provide the participating refugees access to workshops, mentoring and peer-to-peer support groups which will be led by local role models. This pilot will primarily target refugees who ran businesses in their home country, developing their expertise for the UK.

At MERN we believe that Refugees should not be seen as a charitable case, not a humanitarian case but as an asset and resources, which have talents and aspiration. Our whose vision is to enable every refugee in the North West to gain appropriate, fulfilling, paid employment or self-employment. Instead of making them passive beneficiaries, MERN will finds out the professional skills and experience of the refugees, matches it with local entrepreneurship, and creates jobs and new businesses

 We seek to address major barriers to refugee entrepreneurship in the North West – dispersion of the refugee population (with no central register, or support organizations), refugees’ lack of local credit (or personal) history, and their limited understanding of a new culture and complex bureaucratic systems. A lack of seed capital and familiarity with the market, combined with a lack of support in promoting and sustaining businesses, makes it infinitely harder to start and grow a venture

Refugees’ unique mindset and set of skills have led to high start-up rates in other parts of Europe and USA. On average, they start twice as many businesses as local communities, while facing discrimination and economical hardship. 

Refugee entrepreneurs face several challenges, such as a lack of networks, difficulties in accessing credit and insufficient knowledge of the regulatory and financial framework. Access to financial information and increased financial literacy can play an important role in overcoming these challenges.

  We will offer the followings:

Workshop 1: Pre- Start up awareness raising workshop  

Workshop 2: Planning

  • Business Start Up Cost 

  • Financing your start-up

  • How to apply for start-up business grants & funding

  • Business planning and sales forecasting

  • Registering your business

  • The reality of owning your own business

  • Understanding self-employment after employment or unemployment

Workshop 3: Marketing

  • Marketing planning, strategies, tools and techniques

  • Tips for setting up a simple website

  • Using social media for your business

  • Understanding your customer base, and what they want

  • The key to success: identifying your USP

Workshop 4: Bookkeeping

  • Setting up simple hard and soft copy bookkeeping systems

  • Tax and NI explained

  • Excel spreadsheet templates for record keeping and profit, tax and NI calculations

  • Understanding Self-Assessment

  • Establishing best practice

Work Shop 4: Choosing a business structure

  • Setting up as a sole trader 

  • Setting up as a partnership 

  • Setting up a limited liability partnership 

  • Setting up as a limited company 

  • one-to-one advice

  • leadership programs

Work shop 6: Know the regulations: 

  • The Sale of Goods Act 1979, 

  • The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982

  • Consumer Contracts Regulations

  • Online selling regulations.


What do we want to achieve?

  • Refugee entrepreneurs, including social entrepreneurs, receive more support through easier access to financing, training and advice.

  • More refugee women participate in the scheme.

  • Encourage entrepreneurship among refugees through tailored training and mentoring programs, by opening up mainstream entrepreneurship support structures to refugees. 

  • Make full use of UK funding, , to support programs and measures .

MRN is non-profit voluntary network supporting refugees with employment and entrepreneurship. It will create by pulling resources of  local  companies, government bodies , NGOs, universities, congregations, research institutes, communities and individuals with a   low-cost model for fast-track employment , entrepreneurship, starting businesses and entering the  UK  labour market   for refugee by  offering  work and education opportunities, professional connections, funding, mentoring, support in skills development and useful information.