WES Mariam Assefa Fund Grantee Partners

RADIUS – Refugee Livelihood Lab (RLL)

Category: Immigrant Leadership; Innovation and Experimentation

Amount: C$300,000

Term: April 2021 - March 2024

Focus: RLL is expanding its immigrant-led innovation and venture incubation programs to help immigrant leaders pilot solutions to the problems their communities face.

About RLL

The Refugee Livelihood Lab (RLL) is a program within RADIUS, a social innovation hub of the Beedie School of Business at Simon Fraser University. Launched in 2018, RLL works to dismantle systemic barriers and generate opportunities for refugees, immigrants, and international students to pursue thriving livelihoods in the Greater Vancouver region. RLL seeks to facilitate systems change and achieve migrant justice by building power within communities through leadership development, convening, and advocacy.

What type of work will the grant enable?

RLL is developing two key initiatives to support the economic and social inclusion of immigrant and refugee leaders:

  • Beyond Borders is an equity-focused social innovation program through which migrants of colour who are leaders in their community develop and prototype a social venture or service innovation that addresses socio-economic barriers. Participants are then matched to institutional or community advisors to get support in validating, testing, and iterating their prototype.
  • Trampoline: Ideas into Action! is a venture incubation program. Selected participants go through a highly participatory prototype validation and incubation process.

RLL aims at supporting migrant-led innovations that address barriers to the labour market and generate new insights to enable equity and inclusion.

Why is this work important?

RLL is a unique program that centers on immigrant and refugee empowerment at all stages of solutions development to ultimately reduce economic barriers. The ventures developed and launched by RLL participants will foster greater innovation in the sector and help grow the social entrepreneurship field in Canada. RLL will ensure that immigrant leaders are equipped with critical skills and knowledge that enable them to drive change in their communities and advance their careers. To date, 76 percent of RLL participants have reported being funded as a founder to implement their idea or to launch their own business, or have found work that better utilizes their skills.