Biz Gees

BizGees - Transforming Refugees into Entrepreneurs

What is BizGees All About?

We transform refugees into entrepreneurs using FinTech. We custom-designed alternative finance-based services to support refugee communities to take ownership of their own lives. We are winners of the Infosys Challenge for Financial Inclusion at the UNICEF FinTech Jam for Good.

We are currently working with two refugee communities - female artisans in the Swat Valley and female refugees who want to become entrepreneurs in Northern Uganda.

We are looking to grow our presence in other regions - Latin America is a key target region for us as well.

For more information take a look at our website.

Why do we need BizGees?

Refugees experience severe problems in accessing mainstream financial services, and even when they do gain access, their 'high-risk' rating makes it very difficult for them to progress. The 3 biggest causes of refugees are:

1. Climate Change
2. Conflict
3. Economic Collapse.

Over 85% of the refugees are based in the developing world. They suffer from social exclusion, poverty premium, and the digital divide along with mental health concerns.

Their numbers are growing by 300,000 a year. Since BizGees won the Infosys Challenge for Financial Inclusion at the UNICEF FinTech Jam for Good in April 2016, the refugee populations have grown from 68 million to 70 million globally, not taking into account the hidden refugees who aren't counted.

Biz Gees Collage

What inspired you to start?

During the UNICEF FinTech Jam for Good, we discovered the Zaatari UN Camp home to 100,000 refugees, 3,000 micro businesses, generating a monthly turnover of $11 million USD a month. Yet, nobody had access to business-level finance. This shocked and inspired us to pursue this idea. We verified this situation was the norm among other refugee communities. Our co-founder’s friends based in the Swat Valley, face similar challenges.

We felt the peer-to-peer model can be custom designed for their unique needs to help them take ownership of their own lives. We believe the paradigm shift technology is bringing can be used to support this growing number of people to take ownership of their own lives.

What do you wish you'd known at the beginning?

We are taking a human-centred design base approach - this process ensures any unexpected issues that come can be taken into consideration as and when they arise.

This isn't to say it's easy to cope with these unexpected / emergent concerns. For example, we had to pivot the business away from the Middle East because of the security situation / political risk very difficult for us to cope with.

What's the one piece of advice you'd give an aspiring change-maker?

"Social Impact is about people - focus on the human needs they have and then customise your solution :)"

How can people get involved?

We have an open volunteer program where we support talent upskill/ reskill themselves. Just look up our website.

What are your plans for the future?

Scale the business and raise funds to help pay the bills 🙂 We have been bootstrapping the project to date!

Zufi is the Co Founder of BizGees - a Social Impact Fintech transforming refugees into entrepreneurs. He was a member of the judging panel for the 2014 Sirius Programme organised by the UKTI. A Mass Challenge Business Mentor and a Judge on NYU Stern Entrepreneurs Challenge 2015/16. Winning team member at the UNICEF Fintech Jam […]
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