In July 2020, the EMEN project launched a call to identify migrant-led programmes that support migrant entrepreneurs to set up and develop their business. The three winners of this call have been invited to be speakers of the “Migrants know better what to do session”:
ZidiCircle at a glance!
City and country where it is implemented
The Hague, Netherlands
Zidicircle in partnership with IOM
In which field does it support ME
Training, Coaching, Mentoring and Access to finance
Zidicircle focuses on supporting diaspora/migrants impact start-ups to scale across Europe & abroad through access to funding combined with workshops, training and coaching that enable entrepreneurs improve their business models, improve operational efficiency and be investment ready for the right impact investors on their platform.
Their diverse entrepreneurs find themselves in between trying to start a business or even raise capital. When an entrepreneur leaves the country of origin, he/she leaves the networks and banking history behind. To start a new business in a different country, the entrepreneur needs to try to fit in a new pre-existing network and build credibility to raise funds. When it comes to diaspora/migrant entrepreneurs, additional barriers such as prejudices also arise. With the objective of not losing
young, ambitious and innovative entrepreneurs who might feel frustrated by all those barriers to start a business, Zidicircle CEO Fridah Ntarangwi launched the diaspora entrepreneurship bootcamp in 2019 in partnership with IOM Netherlands. It involved 40 migrant entrepreneurs from Ghana and Ethiopia. This initiative enabled the start-ups to actualize their business ideas and develop all components of their business models while the scale-ups worked towards getting ready for investments. The bootcamp was concluded in a pitching competition followed by a 6 months coaching programme by mentors after which we invited various financing partners to explain their products in a 6-week access to finance webinar series. Building on this success and impact, Zidi will run the Bootcamp yearly starting with the second programme coming up in the Fall of 2020.
Why it is a good practice?
Ethnics minorities are hugely underrepresented in both founder circles and investors, lacking role models for inspirations, access to entrepreneurial ecosystems and being categorised as a risk group. Zidicircle focuses on diaspora and funding programs fronted by diaspora themselves to tackle those barriers down and bring the diaspora entrepreneurs closing to the Dutch and EU entrepreneurial ecosystems. Besides training and access to a platform with resources and connections, Zidicircle connects diaspora entrepreneurs to affordable finance from global impact investors.
ZidiCircle more in-dept: supporting Diverse entrepreneurs to growth in The Netherlands!
When the founder of Zidicricle Fridah Ntarangwi migrated to the Netherlands in 2014 to do her masters in Finance, she thought that being highly educated and with the right work experience in business and finance would make it easy for her to become an entrepreneur, with statistics showing the Netherlands as one of the best countries to start a business.
The truth is that when she decided to start her business after some work experience in her new home country, she realised she lacked an entrepreneurial support ecosystem.
Apart from her business coach, she was unable to reach out to other role models, or peers to talk to. She tried joining local business incubators but she always felt out of place. “I remember one time I pitched my idea in one of the incubators in Amsterdam, to my surprise, no one crapped, no one asked me a question, no one talked to me during networking. I felt misunderstood and out place”. Says Fridah.
Fundraising was a very upward task with similar challenges. That’s how she decided to create a platform where diaspora & diverse entrepreneurs would find all the resources, incubation, coaching and funding that they need to run their businesses. In partnership with IOM-UN Migration, Zidicircle launched the diaspora entrepreneurship bootcamp in 2019. It involved 40 migrant entrepreneurs from Ghana and Ethiopia. This initiative enabled the start-ups to actualize their business ideas and develop all components of their business models while the scale-ups worked towards getting ready for investments. The bootcamp was concluded in a pitching competition followed by a 6 months coaching programme by mentors after which various financing partners were invited to explain their products in 6-week access to finance webinar series. Building on this success and impact, Zidi will run the Bootcamp yearly starting with the second programme coming up in the Fall of 2020.
When Fridah arrived in the Netherlands, she saw several cultural and structural differences when it comes to starting a business. In Kenya almost everyone ventures into a business. So once can imagine this brings a very vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem. In the Netherlands, there are a lot of formal start-ups ecosystems and government support for entrepreneurs in general. The ease of doing business here is very seamless holistically. But when you arrive as a migrant entrepreneur, some things change and it takes longer than usual to navigate the support ecosystem. Some of the challenges they experience include language barrier, lack of knowledge of opportunities, limited social & professional networks, a cult of “warm introductions, being categorised too risky by funders, struggle with fitting in among others, etc. Fridah says organisations and policymakers need to think about these issues basically. “There is a lot of campaigns and initiatives towards having inclusive working environments. But no one is talking about inclusive entrepreneurship. If you brought with you an entrepreneurial spirit in a new country, it is a shame if this spirit dies at the mercy of lack of an enabling environment for you”.
The thorny issue of funding still remains. Zidi research shows that up to 89% migrant entrepreneurs lack funding to launch their businesses in the EU or in their countries of origin. “The majority of them work for years to save and then start a business, which generates a lot of lost opportunities. It is a hard place as an entrepreneur to be in between your host and country of origin. We are filling this gap but centralizing all the resources that these entrepreneurs need”.
Fridah was born and raised in a small village at the slopes of Mt. Kenya. She studied and worked in various finance and business roles in Kenya before migrating to the Netherlands in 2014 to Further her studies in finance. She worked for a while before venturing in entrepreneurship.
As a start-up ecosystem builder, she has supported over 100 international start-ups and scale-ups through training and fundraising. Over the past 15 years, she has accumulated business & financial experience ranging from entrepreneurship, SME financing, international trade, impact investments, crowdfunding, agro-financing, financial advisory, supply chain finance, corporate finance, entrepreneurship and financial markets regulations in Europe and Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). She is passionate about emerging markets and being part of a transformative agenda for over 1 Billion people through entrepreneurship and financing. She has also obtained the Duisenberg title ‘Woman in Finance’ that was awarded in conjunction with QS Quacquarelli Symonds in the UK to recognizes high potential women that can influence the financial landscape.
Her initiative has been listed as one of the winners for the migrant for migrant call by the EMEN project of the European Union.