What We Do
Flore Foundation partners with public and private organizations to provide social enterprises with grants and mentorship capacities enabling refugees to create a self-sustainable livelihood and enhance their communities.
Flore Foundation was created in the memory of Flore Hiensch whose passion drew her to over a decade long career that focused on improving the lives of refugees. The Foundation partners with public and private organizations to identify social enterprises led by or benefitting refugees and provides financial grants and mentorship to these social enterprises.
Flore Foundation is open to supporting start-up social enterprises as well as those with operational experience. In focusing specifically on social enterprises, we seek to support those entrepreneurial ideas which will create a positive impact on refugees' communities and local economy by way of increasing employment opportunities, improved education, community integration, enhanced health or social well-being.
In 2017, UNHCR identified 65.5 million displaced people worldwide. The ultimate goal of most international institutions, non-governmental organizations, and private charities is to fulfill the immediate and secondary humanitarian needs that will enable refugees to move forward with their lives [e.g. food, shelter, initial technical training, and language development].
Even when refugees achieve a basic level of stability in their day-to-day lives they continue to face numerous obstacles in becoming independent of international relief. In some cases refugees live in a prolonged period of statelessness in which they are commonly prohibited to work. Informal economies emerge in these areas harnessing existing talent and often an innovative spirit. Impediments to participating in a formal economy include limited access to funding, lack of networks outside of their community of origin, absence of knowledge of business processes in their new community, and cultural/language barriers.
Promoting Self-Sustaining Livelihoods
Promoting entrepreneurship as a mechanism for a self-sustaining livelihood is recommended by established International Development experts. UNHCR Global Strategy for Livelihoods 2014 to 2018 advocates for economic self-reliance as a pathway to a durable solution for refugees to regain financial independence (1). To achieve a long-term lasting solution for refugees requires both financial and mentorship support in order to overcome obstacles to finance and assistance within the local business environment. Flore Foundation offers a mechanism for refugees to achieve a self-sustaining and independent livelihood.
In 2012, experts from University of Oxford Refugee Centre of Studies' started the Humanitarian Innovation Project to look at alternatives to the traditional approach to humanitarian assistance. Studying refugees within multiple communities, Dr. Alexander Betts and his team found that 'bottom-up' innovation exists within the refugee population where individuals have the capacity and resilience to adapt often to a harsh and restrictive environment. Their recommendations propose a number of mechanisms to promote and support bottom-up innovation including the role of governments to reduce legal barriers, contributions of the international community to provide technical training and advance language skills, and the development of a funding mechanism to support refugee innovation (2). One example of this approach described Somali Bantu women in Sacramento, California, who recognized a need for organic produce and started a community farm. They call themselves the Bahati Mamas. With the help of the International Rescue Committee, who provided access to finance and advice, their New Roots community garden has grown to serve over 1000 refugees (3).
Based on this 'bottom-up' model, Flore Foundation affords access to grants and expert mentorship to social enterprises led by refugees thus, promoting long-term economic self-reliance for the grantees.
(1) "UNHCR Global Strategy for Livelihoods 2014 to 2018", UNHCR, 2014, http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/protection/operations/5968ce427/key-action-6-building-sustainable-livelihoods.html.
(2) "Refugee Innovation: Humanitarian Innovation That Starts with Communities", University of Oxford Refugee Centre of Studies, 2015, http://www.oxhip.org/assets/downloads/Refugee_Innovation.pdf.
(3) "Program Spotlight: New Roots in Sacramento", International Rescue Committee, 2016, https://www.rescue.org/announcement/program-spotlight-new-roots-sacramento.