In just a few days Micro Rainbow International will bid to win €50,000 for creating a hostel and providing safety, social inclusion & employment advice to LGBTI refugees in the UK.
MRI selected as finalist in EU Social Innovation Competition: ‘Integrated Futures’
Micro Rainbow International CIC (MRI) has been selected from a shortlist of 30 and a total of 1,095 applicants from 36 countries as a finalist in the European Social Innovation Competition. Along with nine others, MRI will pitch for the chance to win one of three €50,000 prizes at the awards ceremony on Thursday, 27th October.
This year’s theme ‘Integrated Futures’ sought ideas with the potential to address the reception and integration of refugees and migrants in Europe, enabling them to contribute to the social, economic, cultural and political life of their host countries.
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MRI is a UK based social enterprise that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people to improve their livelihoods by setting up small businesses, finding training and jobs. It has replicated its model in the UK, Brazil and Cambodia.
Every year in the UK, MRI provides a lifeline to hundreds of LGBTI refugees and asylum seekers who come from one of the 75 countries in the world where homosexuality is illegal. Research shows that LGBTI refugees lack safe housing, often living in shared accommodation with other refugees who can be hostile and homophobic and consequently suffer abuse and violence. It also shows that they face additional challenges integrating into wider society which are not faced by the general refugee population; for example they are shunned by their own families and ethnic and religious communities in the UK. This makes LGBTI refugees extremely isolated and in turn more vulnerable to poverty and destitution as they have no one to turn to.
MRI will assist its service users to find employment by facilitating training and coaching and by offering support to set up small businesses.
Sebastian Rocca, Founder and CEO at MRI said:
“MRI’s solution to the abuse that LGBTI refugees face in housing is to operate a hostel exclusively for LGBTI refugees and to provide them with safe temporary accommodation. The profits from the hostel will allow MRI to fund social inclusion activities, such as peer support groups, life skills workshops, art sessions and employability workshops. In addition MRI will assist its service users to find employment by facilitating training and coaching and by offering support to set up small businesses”.
The hostel will be financed by social investment. On 23 August 2016 HMRC provided MRI with an advanced assurance that social investments in MRI to raise funding for its housing project for LGBTI refugees should qualify for the Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) scheme.
Mr Rocca added:
“The SITR scheme allows qualifying individuals not only to invest in, and receive returns on, a qualifying high impact social project, but also provides that certain tax relief may be claimed by those individuals on or in respect of their investment (such as deduction of 30% of qualifying investment costs from that investor’s income tax liability or deferring a capital gains tax liability on a gain re-invested into a SITR qualifying investment)”.
Some of MRI’s employees attended a mentoring academy in Berlin in July where they worked with experts in social innovation to refine their ideas and develop their business plan before pitching to the jury. The jury is made up of successful social innovators from around Europe with particular expertise in working with refugees and migrants, who critically evaluated the strength of each organisation’s business plan and have selected the 10 strongest entries.
Moud Goba, Project Manager at MRI said:
“Being shortlisted for the Competition out of 1095 entries gave us the confidence that our idea did not just sound good to us, but that it was also valued by experts in social entrepreneurship. The competition provided us not only with free coaching, information and advice to develop our business plan but also with the encouragement of peer social innovators who want us to succeed. We are very excited to be a finalist, to have the opportunity to raise awareness of the issues that LGBTI refugees face and to pitch to secure the much needed prize money. We hope to see our model replicated all over Europe, and for LGBTI refugees to experience and enjoy a greater number of opportunities to integrate into society”.
Josephine Goube, COO of Techfugees and member of the 2016 jury commented:
“I was thrilled by the diversity and the large scope of shortlisted projects this year. They proved that so much can be done to help refugees feel welcomed and thrive in Europe that benefit host communities all at the same time. The 10 finalists give a good insight into what some European citizens have been helping with on the ground instead of waiting on government to take action. I hope they not only will inspire others to put their own ideas into action but also get a well needed support from governments to scale and be sustainable solutions.”