Idea by: Alexis Rhyner, Cristian Alexe og Mustafa. // Education: MSc Entrepreneurial Engineering, Aalborg Universitet.

 Restart Innovationsprisen 2017

During an UnSchool Fellowship in Berlin last year, we explored innovative ways of supporting refugees to finance restarting their careers. Since then, I could not shake two thoughts: co-operative banking and KIVA microfinance loans (MFI). Circumvent the challenges refugees face in accessing capital seemed achievable. After all, aren’t all of the resources that we need already present?

After research, the idea came: Since KIVA, various MFIs for developing countries arose, however no platform for community self-development and self-investment exists. By rethinking traditional funding (big banks) and microfinance (KIVA).
REstart allows communities to crowdfund experienced refugees to restart their businesses, redesigning banking, philanthropy and partnership.
Charity evolves from an international hand out to a local hand up. By further rethinking traditional start up funding (Y Combinator), REstart brings self-sustaining financing to development. This way, all loans are interest-free in exchange for a small portion of shared equity.

This equity will:
  • insure risk on all loans
  • fund local teams
  • create a community trust

In this way, we rethink what public communities, not just private businesses, are capable of accomplishing together. While initial seed funding is required, the shared equity model allows for financial freedom. In addition to the economic value, communities create for themselves connections and partnerships never before imagined. The lending and borrowing process will be fueled by communal gatherings, knowledge, trust and teamwork. Existing networks of refugee NGOs will be leveraged for introducing REstart to markets across Europe. In a time when wealth is more polarized than ever and cultural tensions run high, we are rethinking what charity, teamwork and economic empowerment.

See a video presentation of the project