The Marzouks — Part 2

Refugee-Entrepreneur

Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

Everyone has a vision. Even when we are locked in a box. Neither dictators nor poverty can deprive us this gift. It is independent and that what makes us independent and free creatures. Refugees are not an exception. Sometimes they are locked in the middle of nowhere/nowhen, out of space and time. It is a complex feeling, rather a status of mind I would say with all the associated chemicals triggered by such brain activities.

Stereotyping is not cool. Stereotyping is not smart. Stereotyping hurts. Stereotyping can generate hate speech and hate speech can lead to crimes. It is a crime itself.

In second place, it is a crime because it de-humanize the other. It establishes this ‘we’ vs. ‘they’ atmosphere. We are ‘good’, they are ‘bad’. We are ‘more’, they are ‘less’. We are ‘right’, they are ‘wrong’. We ‘deserve’ life, they DO NOT. Yes, this is how things eventually ends. Be generous and give yourself some time to think about it.

But it is a crime, in the first place, because, it de-humanize ‘us’. The ‘we’. The ‘I’. I have said at the beginning of this article how the gift of ‘vision’: the liberty to produce the imaginative future is independent and free. I said no one can deprive us this gift. However, we can do. We are the only ones who can deprive ourselves this magnificent gift. We are the only ones who can commit this crime of ‘de-humanizing’ ourselves by limiting our vision to normalized evil, lazy, jealousy and other types of negative thoughts along with all the negative emotions coming with them. And this process of vision obscurity, lack of clarity, starts normally by egoistic emersion.

Liberation: stereotyping-free mindsets.

Refugees are not Arabs, Muslims, black, only. Refugees are not unskilful. Refugees are not less educated. Refugees are not wrong. Refugees are not subtracting the big portion of the economy cake and escaping with it to the mountain to eat it in the caves with their tribes on the other side of the world via skype or western union. Yes they have screens, and yes they have skype too and yes sometimes they receive financial social support just like any other in-need citizen of the developed countries with proper social support and welfare systems.

Entrepreneurship on the other hand is often misconceived. There are many misconceptions about entrepreneurship. Those can go from too reductionist, oversimplifying ones to too compilated and over terrifying ones. In most of the cases however, entrepreneurship is linked to genius -white-male- with the capacity to network. This is not entrepreneurship. This is a sociable white male with an extra dose of luck. again, stereotypes do not help. Also, entrepreneurship is usually associated to misconceptions about over taxation, facing the uncertainties -alone-, needs of huge investments, and risking being in deep shit-debt. This is on the dark side of the story. On the other too optimistic one, entrepreneurship is you working in the weekend in the garage — yes i am continuously surprised that many do still think about entrepreneurship in its 80s format— then over a night your product is a huge success and you sell your stake for millions of US Dollars (even when you are living in Europe, Japan, or Syria). Did i say Syria? No, another misconception about about entrepreneurship is that people from third world countries can not do it. and definitely not those coming from war zones. Now, it will take too long to start building sound arguments to respond to all of the above misconceptions -btw, the list is much longer- so i will opt to a more efficient approach: All of this is just SHIT. Forget it.

Shifting: Think big.

Refugees are qualified. This is why we created Marzouk.today in the first place, to empower refugees and to let them share their skills. But the world is changing rapidly. We have recently realized it is not enough. This is why we added two services. Skilling-Lab where we aspire to equip refugees with the very-soon future needed skills. You can read about the skilling lab here. But also, as yet another status quo challenge move, we have created the entrepreneur model. The rest of this article intends to explain it.

There are many models already out there supporting refugees with entrepreneurial projects. The models have different formats but in brief they receive governmental funding, they allocate some space to incubate few refugees with their computers for a period of few months, they leverage their networks and provide exposure. This is a fairly simplistic explanation but it serves the purpose. Definitely people operating these organizations are doing much complex and hard work. What we are trying to do here is different but it goes in the same ecosystem of this entrepreneurial environment. We are becoming angle investors. Refugees themselves fund themselves and create outstanding profitably viable projects.

How does it work?

This is what we call the crowd-entrepreneurship.

Marzouk lists profitable digital products by refugees.

Each projects provide the following five explanations:

  • One line project explanation.
  • Problem
  • Solution
  • Market validation.

There are four types of engagement where audience/readers can get involved with any project -or more- through:

  • Coder: this is for those who have professional coding and IT competencies. They can become partners based on their work.
  • Investor: Money. Those who want to contribute monetary value to the project and become partners based on their contributions. one can contribute 50 euros to one project, 50 euros to 10 projects, or any similar variation.
  • Skilful: this is the room of the professional executives. depending on the project nature : Education, Food & Beverages, Children , etc. People with relevant skills can partner as long as their skills in demand for that particular project. Digital marketing, finance and sales are always in demand.
  • Heartful: This is where hearts of all colours make projects alive. Those who do not or can not contribute in any of the above three categories but do still think this is a ‘Good’ idea can heartfully provide support, advocacy and word of mouth. This is not little, not only for marketing reasons-although with our affiliates program it makes a big sense- but also because it shows investors -market potentials/validation/size.

This is our alternative model. It is not an incubator, it is not crowd funding, it is not angle investments, it is not co-founders search engine, and it is not a pitch deck, it is a hybrid of all of these together. We are aiming at engaging refugees -but also refugees friends and families- in this. We KNOW it will work. Join the MOVEMENT.

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Bilal Zaiter

Bilal Zaiter

Writing makes life joyful. You will often find me playing at the digital humanities playground.