New Beginnings: How Social Entrepreneurship Mends

 Ali Daud Omar will repair your cell phone for $6. He's one of the refugees benefiting from the Ugandan government's right to work policy.   Gregory Warner/NPR

Ali Daud Omar will repair your cell phone for $6. He's one of the refugees benefiting from the Ugandan government's right to work policy.

Gregory Warner/NPR

The refugee community is backed by their resilience and solidarity. Here at Glocally Connected, we keep local refugee’s integration at the core of our mission.

Recent correspondence in Uganda suggests that displaced refugees are allocating their skills and resources to small investments and businesses. Tendai Marima from Aljazeera states that, “entrepreneurship [will] foster stronger community relations with their Ugandan hosts.”

It’s a bilateral relationship from both hosts and refugees: a monetary and social exchange that enables mobility. This interaction and mixing “allows refugees to mingle rather than be enclosed within a settlement" (Aljazeera).

We’ve seen this historically happen. In 1975, when Saigon fell, the United States accepted roughly 130,000 Vietnamese refugees. As seen today, Little Saigon is flooded by small businesses  owned by Vietnamese refugees/immigrants who settled in the area.

“Vietnamese refugee Frank Jao opened Bridgecreek Development along Bolsa in 1978. He saw the potential for a Vietnamese business district and began buying land. At its peak, Bridgecreek owned one-third of all Little Saigon property, including the Asian Garden Mall" (OCRegister)

Mobilizing refugees through entrepreneurship is a promising future. What is instore for our refugees in Riverside if we were to implement a similar initiative?

City councils are actively looking into potentially building an Innovation District in Downtown Riverside. Entrepreneurs, students and community members gathered a few months back to discuss some of the “MUST HAVES” of this proposed Innovation District. While the discussion comprised of mainly bringing in tech industries, ideas about social entrepreneurship were not dismissed. In fact, a place that foster economic and social growth is an ideal place where refugees and non-profit organizations can thrive.

It is our goal to help alleviate and integrate refugees to their new home; however, allowing them to build their own communities independently and autonomously is effective and far more beneficial for both parties.

By: Kristina Fernandez, GC Director of Social Relations