BizGees – co-founded by Zufi Deo and Ondrej Dusilek – is a social enterprise focused on using the latest technology developments to transform refugees into financially, self-sufficient entrepreneurs. The BizGees philosophy is that refugees naturally nurture the same skills entrepreneurs have just out of necessity and will to survive. SEE Change recently sat down with BizGees co-founder, Zufi Deo to discuss the FinTech’s mission, and learn more about its upcoming crowdfunding campaigns in helping millions of refugees worldwide.
Tell us about BizGees and its mission
BizGees Ltd is a FinTech startup catalyst for the world’s refugee populations. We are in line with UN Sustainable Development Goals. At the 2016 UNICEF Fintech Jam for Good, BizGees won the Infosys Challenge for Financial Inclusion – which focused on supporting refugees’ access to financial services to help scale their entrepreneurship to establish businesses and earn a livelihood while creating jobs in their respective communities.
Our mission is to transform refugees into entrepreneurs through innovative, financially sound business model that’s designed to generate interest-free financial assistance for refugee entrepreneurs with a unique social impact angle.
How do you plan to achieve your goal?
There are 68 million refugees worldwide – and each year this number increases by 300,000 due to growing political conflicts and climate change contributing factors.
The BizGees philosophy is that we recognize refugees naturally nurture the same skills as entrepreneurs; they are creative, show initiative and take ownership of their own lives. Supporting refugees to utilize these unique skills to earn a livelihood and be financially independent is highly beneficial to the individual refugees – not to mention the value-add to the host communities.
We know that refugees currently do own and run businesses across the world, even in UN Camps. Some UN Camps have a thriving informal economy – like the Zaatari UN Camp in Jordan, for instance, where there are more than 3,000 micro businesses.
They have them set up right in the refugee camps?
Yes, but at the same time these entrepreneurs lack access to financial services to help their businesses grow; they can’t have business insurance to cover their inventory, or a business bank account, and no formal record of their business – even if they are successful entrepreneurs, they are financially excluded from the standard financial organizations.
No doubt, refugees have identity crises, mental health concerns due to the trauma they have experienced, their social networks have been broken down and they have no access to financial systems to capitalize on any opportunities.
How do you get around these hurdles?
BizGees has collaborated with WSV.Global on a franchise-free micro-loan to help refugees access training, inventory and business mentoring for a period of six months. Our model helps between three to five refugees access entrepreneurship tools that leads to a successful micro business within the low-income communities where they are based.
Each micro business we support, generates an additional 10 jobs within the first year of operations. Once loans are repaid, it automatically generates a credit profile for the micro businesses.
How are you generating these funds to support the micro-loans?
We are organizing four different channels to generate the funds needed for the micro loans.
- Crypto mining crowdfunding campaign in partnership with GiveBytes – allows donors to donate their processing power, instead of funds, to support our campaign.
- Designers for Refugees crowdfunding campaign in partnership with British Pakistan Foundation (BPF), Swat Valley Guild and The RSA supports textile designers from the British Pakistani Community to build their brand and portfolios.
- Arts4refugees arts auctions in partnership with artFix London and London based up and coming artists allows artists to auction off their works to help generate funds for the refugees.
- BizGees also encourages digital shoppers to share their cash back.
How are the funds turned into micro-loans?
We have calculated that for every £1,000 we distribute to refugees we generate two eco-friendly micro businesses, transform 6-10 refugees into entrepreneurs and create additional 20 jobs over a one-year period.
To meet your goals, what level of funds are you looking to raise?
We are seeking a funding level of $250,000 which will help scale up our operations and allow us in the next 18 months to:
- Hire a team of 3 full-time professionals.
- Invest in digital marketing campaigns to ensure the different crowdfunding channels I mentioned are successfully promoted and engage the targeted public.
- Conduct ongoing research to ensure that we continue to focus on the changing needs of refugees.
- Pay for the Blockchain-based technology being built – trial and error along with user testing will be the focus.
We offer investors interested in helping us a 10 percent of equity and social impact in return of their investment. Our use of standard Inc. (Ltd) legal structure allows potential investors to benefit from the capital growth as well as gain from the social impact generated.
How can our readers donate or invest or get involved in some way?
Well, they can certainly contact me – Zufi Deo at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website: www.bizgees.org to learn more about our campaigns and donate. They can also view our pitch at London’s New Finance Group – https://youtu.be/sknNRbtwk to better understand our business model.
Zufi Deo is the co-founder of BizGees. Learn more at www.bizgees.org