It all started many years ago, in 2002, when Startup Migrants project lead for Startup Preschool, Maria Amelie, fled to Norway and became an asylum seeker. After years in uncertainty, at just 25 years old, she wrote her first book telling her refugee story. Lead by Maria, the Norwegian community rallied to help her change unfair aspects of Norway’s immigration laws. This launched a debate on migrant rights across Northern Europe earning Maria title as Norwegian of the Year. Shortly after, in search of her own passions, she pursued entrepreneurship and technology journalism going on to write 3 more books.
In 2002, Nicolai Strøm-Olsen, the CEO of Startup Migrants, was also changing the world through politics as a young conservative in Norway. Having made an impact there, he returned to his career in art history. He wrote a book on Norway’s foremost artist Hans Gude, co-founded a new Nordic art magazine KUNSTforum and the art conference Kunstweekend.no, and started Frekk Forlag, a publishing company where he explored entrepreneurship, city development, and policy.
In the fall 2017, worlds collided in Oslo. Maria and Nicolai found themselves chatting at Oslo Innovation Week and discovering that they both wanted to learn more on the topic of migration and entrepreneurship. There were both exasperated by the field and lack of proper books on information exploring these two subjects in interdisciplinary way.
We are the future of strong and collaborative entrepreneurship.
Researchers across Europe have found that when it comes to wealth creation migrants are becoming significant contributors to the formal economy. In 2016, Bertelsmann Stiftung published that 1.3 million jobs have been provided in Germany by migrant entrepreneurs. Similarly, Statistics Norway showed that 21.3% of Norwegian entrepreneurs are migrants. Yet, the barriers that exist for migrant entrepreneurs are unaddressed and hold many back particularly those who hold Non-European citizenship.
Given their lack of networks, committed mentors and capital, migrant entrepreneurs are a vulnerable community compared to local entrepreneurs in the realm of business ownership. We want to do something about that. We believe everyone in Europe should have equal opportunity to start a business.