Starting up, integrating up

COMMUNITY STARTUP

Is entrepreneurship a facilitator to cultural and social integration?

Lately, while talking with a friend who recently started up an ethnic newco in the food distribution industry, he suggested that young entrepreneurs, especially if established in foreign countries as a migrant business should make an extensive use of funding/crowdfunding platforms not just for mere financial reasons but also in order to accomplish a social and a cultural task.

Is difficult to get investors to know about us, to soundly evaluate our own specific needs and values and overcome their scepticism especially when our idea is designed mainly to serve local communities or minorities” he said.  Therefore he added “with my success I can produce value for my community and beyond, but even with my failure I’ll spread my cultural and entrepreneurial values and I’ll get more and more people and potential investor to know and appreciate them; I’ll make it easier for myself and for future entrepreneurs like me”

The same happens for some interesting Muslim startups reported troubles in tapping capital sources from investors that can fully understand Shariah rules and appropriately value their markets.

This sometimes impairs value creation within the territory where those startups act, because they just don’t have some appropriate partners providing services overthere.

Entrepreneurship therefore can represent a way to overcome problems and favourite integration, and forums, angel investors, mainstream VC and equity-based financing can probably in this case boost this process much better than other traditional financing channels.

And this is important, because entrepreneurship is inherently a growth, transcultural and transborder factor for society, because for its nature believes in value creation, communication with an always larger base of consumers, growth through partnership etc etc

We all know, 9 times out of 10 starting up isn’t successful at all. What we do with this stories? We learn from failure, is the most common answer. For ethnic, migrant community and minority entrepreneurship probably there is an extra value and meaning to learn, even from their stories of failure, and this extra value to be learned is about starting a “mind the gap/close the gap” process.

Investing in a migrant or minority startup represents in facts a higher risk from investor’s perspective. There is a cultural gap to overcome. Their “traditional” questions to every startupper are:

  1. Is this idea viable/feasible?
  2. Will it be enough to overcome customer laziness?

For a community or an ethnic startup, the typical additional questions are:

  1. Are we culturally prepared to understand the value of this proposal
  2. Is this consistent and compatible with our rules and regulations
  3. Is this niche-market big enough for getting the expected reward?
  4. Will it ever be bigger (will this product of service ever become a mainstream one)?

…and sometimes these additional questions are likely to completely stop the process.

However, not always this way to think is correct as well as not necessarily an ethnic startup represents a riskier activity. For the same reasons, serving a market niche is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if that niche gives the access attractive, uncontested blue ocean and the proposed idea is really innovative.

Therefore, using a mainstream funding platform, a crowdfunding platform etc can represent a way to make it easier for you and for the future entrepreneurs who will accept the challenge, because this tools generally give to the ethnic, migrant and minority startuppers the possibility to tell their stories, exchange their point of views with other entrepreneurs, to get investors more familiar with their business views, with the values they are trying  to carry in their business plans.

Tell always your story, then!!! And, most of all, the difficulties you experienced.

Every entrepreneur should get the same chances of presenting their idea and of being objectively evaluated for the value of their plans.

To make this chance of integration trough entrepreneurship something more than a dream, such a kind of startups certainly need more than others:

  • To have a special assistance on their business plan, not providing generic models but taylor-made ones;
  • to get some clear specifications regarding the different legal and juridical forms for a start ‐up, and related issues i.e. from fiscal responsibility point of view;
  • to gain the access to funding platforms able to give space for their stories and connecting them properly with potential investors;
  • to get incubation services able to encourage a cross fertilization process between entrepreneurs sharing different ideas and cultures, avoiding isolation and dangerous monocultural approaches;
  • to obtain the access to training services to acquire an appropriate financial culture and the possibility to adopt suitable financial products.
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