Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. -

Small Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comSmall Business Saturday draws 40+ Lehigh Valley participants. Here are their deals. - lehighvalleylive.comPosted: 30 May 2020 05:22 AM PDT More than 40 Lehigh Valley small business owners Saturday will be offering virtual deals on what they say will be one of their biggest shopping sales annually.Small Business Saturday typically is timed for following Black Friday in November. The nationwide effort for the past decade encourages communities to shop local as it kicks off the busiest shopping season of the year.The chamber is moving this year to hold the event twice -- this time with social distancing -- as many businesses struggle to survive financially during the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their doors on March 19. Restaurants were then forced to offer menu items by takeout only with curbside pickup or delivery.Lehigh Val…

Refugee Week - Businesses Building A Shared Future - Forbes

Refugee Week - Businesses Building A Shared Future - Forbes

Refugee Week - Businesses Building A Shared Future - Forbes

Posted: 17 Jun 2019 03:57 AM PDT

Award-winning actress Zoƫ Wanamaker campaigning for Refugee Week 2019.

Refugee Week

Since the beginning of the year, 10,700 people fled their country to arrive in Greece by sea; 39 died in the journey, and asylum-seeking applications are rising in EU states. To take the words of Josephine Goube, CEO of Techfugees: "the refugee crisis is a fact, it has been, it is and it will be, you do not have to be for or against it." 

Refugee Week is happening this week, June 17 to 23, all around the United Kingdom, with events spanning across theatres, institutions, and museums. The national movement is growing across venues, seeing businesses such as WeWork partnering with UNHCR to celebrate the creativity and culture refugees bring to their host country. 

Instead of debating immigration, what becomes far more interesting to spend energy on is to ask ourselves: how do we organise a society that is in constant motion? What structures are being developed for populations that fled their home for political, discriminative or climate-related issues? And what are the concrete steps people can take now to help build it?

Josephine Goube, CEO of Techfugees.

Courtesy of Techfugees.

Breaking Stigmas With Entrepreneurship

Goube has been working on the matter since 2015, so she has a fair idea of what works, and simple steps people can take. If you are an employer, you can recruit skilled and talented refugees. You can also engage your employees in mentoring refugees and share time, advice and contacts. If you are a techie, you can join one of the hackathons organised by Techfugees' local chapters in 18 countries. If none of these options suits you, you can invest in projects helping refugees or businesses run directly by/for refugees.

As Catherine Wines writes on Forbes, immigrants are natural entrepreneurs with qualities such as being adaptable, resilient, good observers, problem solvers, persistent and gritty. An entrepreneur's mind focuses on fixing a problem a thousand different ways until it works. So resilience is not in short supply for immigrants who have already crossed a few thousand miles to reach safety.

So how is it for entrepreneurs who do not look like Mark Zuckerberg, did not graduate from Harvard or Oxbridge and come from other parts of the world?

According to the IOD research on Migrant Entrepreneurship In The U.K. (2016), 44% of migrants entrepreneurs report that not having a network and contacts is the biggest hurdle to help start-up businesses as well as the lack of knowledge of government and non-government schemes designed. Charlie Fraser, CEO of TERN (The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network), also mentioned the lack of financial support available. As a refugee, it is practically impossible to get a loan, and there are still to this day, banks refusing to open bank accounts for refugees. So TERN helps refugee entrepreneurs access a network of mentors, angel investors and alternative funding routes.

Fraser notes:

As a social enterprise, we focus on leveraging and incentivising the private sector to set up a sustainable system that includes refugees. We offer 0% loans through private partnerships but we can do it because for now, we operate at a very small scale. We are transforming public narrative to remove the stigma around refugees, and we know data will enable us to show again that refugees are no financial risk."

The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network offers mentoring programs, networks and access to funds for refugee entrepreneurs.

Courtesy of TERN.

However, even without a strong local network, migrant entrepreneur-founded companies still participate in the U.K's economy, as they employ 1.16 million people (Statistic for the SME sector only, which represent 14% of the sector).

Steve Ali, the founder of Road From Damascus, arrived in the U.K. from Syria in 2017. After crossing the Mediterranean Sea in a dingy, he travelled from Greece to Calais, France. It is in the long days in Calais that he feels a longing for wearing jewellery. Back in Damascus, he used to own a box full of different pieces he would buy from the market. Not being able to buy jewellery, one day he used a nail sticking out of his shelter to make a ring out of it.

He was inspired to create more jewellery, had a few odd requests from other refugees and learnt simple techniques with a volunteer who happened to be a silversmith in The Jungle [as the refugee and migrant encampment in Calais was known].

Steve Ali, Founder of Road From Damascus.

Courtesy of Steve Ali.

It has now been a year since Ali launched his handcrafted jewellery business based in Camden, London. By partnering with the award-winning Guilty Feminist Podcast, he reached customers and met celebrities such as designer Vivienne Westwood, who supported his business.

The exposure enabled him to make more than a thousand pieces to date, which means that he now needs to employ up to five people during busy periods. Speaking to Ali, he is proud of being able to build something of meaning for himself but that is also giving back—5% of every sale goes to his mother's charity in Turkey, which helps refugee girls to learn a craft.

Ali says:

I don't do it for personal gain. I know that good things happen when they are shared. I am lucky to do something I love out of a series of unfortunate events. I would like to grow big enough to lay the ground for other people who are coming here, to support people who want to start something of their own. I would like to invest in other businesses and to do more for people who are going through tough times."

Communities, At The Core of A Thriving Future.

The importance of the community is the most powerful tool to build a secure future together. Ali collaborates with communities and envisions to forge one. TERN is bridging the gap between refugees entrepreneurs access to networks and funds. Refugee Week encourages a diverse range of events to foster encounters between refugees and the general public.

Finally, coming back to rule number one when building a business, the consumers are your most valuable community. Goube reminds us of it with these last words:

Whatever the social challenge you want to tackle with your enterprise, do it with the users you want to serve and with passion. Even if it's hard to convince investors or sponsors to support your business, you're the one who knows your community and your organisation better than anyone. And don't do it because it is cool. You will need to be able to wake up for it for the next ten years."

Rhima Australia focusing on smaller scale farms with its equipment washing systems -

Posted: 17 Jun 2019 05:24 AM PDT

Australian owned equipment washing system company, Rhima, says it is making an effort to focus on supplying the smaller farms and businesses with their specialised cleaning needs.

Rhima is a family owned company that originates, and still has operations, in the Netherlands. There are three arms to the business; medical washing, hospitality and industrial, with the latter being the focus for Hort Connections later this month.

"It could be to the food manufacturing industry, general engineering, or anything that requires aqueous type washing," Managing Director Michael Vandertop said. "We supply from very big projects to mid-sized right down to sole traders. A main focus is farmers, growers and food manufacturing plants. We have big washers at crate processing depots, and compact machines at individual farms. So, it's a varied market that we work in."

Mr Vandertop says that the company has a few machines that are specifically aimed at the smaller operators in the fruit and vegetable market.

"They have always been left out, with all the mega type machines," he said. "We are now coming up with machines that can do 30-40 crates an hour which can target a single small operator, who also needs to have his crates cleaned to the same level as a large operator. So, we are focusing more on that these days than the bigger ones."

He adds that the crate cleaning system just keeps taking off more and more, because of environmental concerns and reusable items is the way to go, not just in Europe but in Australia as well.

"Cleaning of crates is important to avoid cross-contamination, especially on farms between different fields. They need washers to clean them effectively rather than stand there with a gurney and waste water," Mr Vandertop said. "It is easy to clean something with truckloads of water, but being water and energy efficient and consistent wash results takes a bit of knowledge and that's what we do. We wash anything apart from cars, clothes and people."

Rhima has clients across Australia and New Zealand, as well as in Asian countries such as Indonesia, Philippines, China and Singapore. The company is currently embarking on 'the largest washer in the country' in Derrimut, Victoria.

"It is to wash the big mega fruit bins the ones that are 1162mm by 1162mm and 780mm high," Mr Vandertop said. "It's a huge machine that would be about 55 metres long, fully automated to wash 120 bins per hour, or up to 250 pallets."

Mr Vandertop says Rhima is the only company in Australia that specialises in this type of washing equipment.

"All we do is washing, we specialise, and the advantage for our clients is that our experts know their business," he said. "But also, we can cross-pollinate. To give you an example, if we can clean a surgical instrument in a hospital to a high level, then it is easy to clean a boning knife in an abattoir to similar high levels. We know what we are doing and specialise in it, and that gives us an edge over others."

For more information visit Rhima at booth 253 at Hort Connections.


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