Mentoring: How we’re using it as a tool to empower refugee entrepreneurs to grow their businesses and facilitate dialogue within host communities

Mentoring Refugee Entrepreneurs
Participants from the SANAD TAF Mowgli Mentoring program

Did you know that out of every 100 people in the world, 1 person is a refugee?

If the refugee population were to be translated into that of a country, it would be the 24th largest country in the world! Makes you look at the refugee crisis in a different light, doesn’t it?

According to the UNHCR Jordan Factsheet 2017, Jordan is the second largest refugee host country in the world with 90 percent being of Syrian nationality. Because 93 per cent live below the poverty line, cash assistance is often provided to help cater for their basic needs. Given that the number of refugees globally has been steadily rising since 2012, development economists are advocating for alternative and sustainable models to manage this crisis.

One of the most sustainable models we can employ is empowering refugees to equally contribute towards their host community’s economy. University of Oxford research shows that the top five myths surrounding refugees is that they are economically isolated, a burden to host states, economically homogeneous, technologically illiterate and dependent on humanitarian assistance. However, findings from the research indicate that economically empowered refugees debunk these myths and instead help to develop a community of displaced persons who positively contribute toward their host economies, in turn improving relations with the host community and increasing economic generation.

In order to encourage strong community development at the grassroots level, involving both refugee and host communities is key. 360-degree mentoring (which focuses on both the personal and business areas of a mentee’s life) is a vital and cost-effective means of supporting economic and social development. It acts as an empowerment tool that can be used to support entrepreneurship and economic development, job placement within the host country, facilitate better understanding and empathy on the plight of refugees and accelerate their social integration of refugees amongst host communities.

Staying true to our vision at Mowgli, which is to develop a world in which everyone is able to fully realise their potential to leave the world a better place, we’re proud to have launched our first refugee entrepreneurship-focused mentoring program in partnership with the visionary Oesterreichische Entwicklungsbank (OeEB) funded SANAD Technical Assistance Facility (SANAD TAF) who are extending their MSME support services to fuel the growth of Syrian refugee owned micro-enterprises and encourage refugee-host community dialogue.

Through this program, Mowgli is supporting SANAD TAF’s mandate by providing our 360-degree mentoring methodology to empower a pilot cohort of Syrian refugees to unlock their innate potential and grow their micro-enterprises with the support of trained Jordanian Mowgli Mentors.

As part of this pilot project, we’ve trained 13 Mowgli Mentors who are taking on the mentoring journey, walking hand-in-hand with 13 refugee entrepreneurs in 1–to–1 mentoring relationships to build their core spirit (resilience, motivation, confidence and mindset), as well as the support in the development of their skills and knowledge of how to do business in Jordan.

Ultimately, we want the refugees to thrive and scale as entrepreneurs so as to develop sustainable enterprises that lead to their own economic generation as well as social and economic development of Jordan. We’re excited about this project and cannot wait to share its impact with you in the coming months.