Spotlight on: Community Refugee Projects
17 March 2016 - Impact Hub Berlin

There are so many great local initiatives currently out there working on integration for migrants/refugees. Including some of our very own community/members. Take a look at the following profiles of Impact Hub Berlin members tackling the issue. Have your own idea to integrate refugees? Heard of the Diogo Challenge? They’re offering 50.000 EUR to make your dream a reality. And read on to get some inspiration for what’s possible when you dream up a solution for one of our society’s most pressing issues.


Ajantha Suriyanarayanan (below) & Anna Alberts, developed with the Berlin Peace Innovation Lab


Taken from their Facebook page:

“What few people know but several studies show is that migrants and refugees are an integral part of the kickstarting scene in Germany. We therefore see the current influx of newcomers as an opportunity that should be seized! How?

We want to help refugees to set up their own businesses in Germany. In order to kickstart in Germany it needs assistance – we want to provide that kind of support. We see ourselves as a platform where refugees (and residents) can come together and inspire each other, create new ideas and kickstart. We organise innovative workshops and events and help refugees to built a network of likeminded newcomers. We help refugees to test and implement business ideas and support them with legal issues, help compile business plans and search for potential investors. We offer a wide network of mentors and supporters who are able to support our entrepreneurs in the long-term with their specific concerns and questions.”

Follow their Facebook page to stay up to date on their upcoming meetings.


We connect

Coming out of a startup weekend at Impact Hub, WeConnect aims to connect refugees with local initiatives in Berlin through social activities in art, sport, music, food, and education.

Taken from their website, through personal experiences, interviews and research, we found out that many refugees have a hard time to engage socially and follow their interests and hobbies in Berlin. Many of them don’t have easy access to and lack information about local initiatives and organisations, that offer recreational activities. Furthermore, cultural and language barriers as well as mostly isolated locations of refugee camps complicate social engagement. To facilitate contact and intercultural exchange, WeConnect collects various offers of initiatives and organisations and presents them to refugees and locals alike. At the same time WeConnect gives refugees and locals the possibility to create their own activities within the five categories listed above.

ReDI School of Digital Integration, Anne Kjaer Riechert 

See the graphic below to get a sense of what ReDI is doing. At Impact Hub, we have one of their coding teams in a few nights a week to work on their projects from our space. Unfortunately, Mark Zuckerberg missed us on his recent trip to Berlin. Luckily, he didn’t miss meeting this super important Impact Hub member initiative.

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Working with Travel Massive, Anna (below) recently did an event on the correlation between the travel industry and refugee/migrant integration. Not as far as a connection as you might think.


Jonas Nipkow, restART


Local social entrepreneur and founder of social enterprise T/Shared, Jonas Nipkow (below) is bringing his concept of sustainable fashion with the basic idea of spreading peace and solidarity around the world into the world of refugee/migration issues. His shirts function as a platform for arts created in collaboration with artists from conflicted parties. His newest concept restART is taking this a step further.


Here’s what he has to say about it:

“It’s good to look behind our own national borders and being interested in foreign affairs but as safe and sound Germany might (have) seem(ed), we definitely have quite a lot of domestic problems to tackle. That’s why I would like to present to you the next big thing and social business in Berlin: restART ( Together with you, I want to build up an online marketplace that truly changes lives! 

Everyone of us has a talent that is worth to be seen. So do people coming to Germany at the moment who now want to start again and establish themselves. We find many many artists among them who until recently were a lot appreciated and known for their work in their home countries. The fact of being forced to leave everything behind and quite often going through traumatic experiences has harmed their self esteem and hope for a better future.

Therefore I want to build up an online marketplace (like an online gallery) that promotes refugee artists by selling & appreciating their work (originals & prints on a range of different products). In doing so, I’m convinced of the empowering effect it can have on those artists and the financial support we will be able to provide through spreading their amazing work.

Polly & Bob, Volker Siems


Their mission is simple: to change the way we live together in the neighborhood.

Polly & Bob is about neighbors meeting neighbors. In particular, neighbors meeting new refugee neighbors. Here is the manifesto taken from their website: 

We dream of a world where social well-being is measured not by the number of Facebook
friends you have, but by the number of neighbors who greet you by your first name during a casual walk down the street.

We dream of a world heading towards localization instead of globalization, where you can find
more richness and value in your own neighborhood than anywhere else in the online or offline world.

We dream of a world where people come together in their local communities
to share their wealth, knowledge, and talents with their fellow neighbors.

We dream of a world where each and every one of us, no matter what race,
gender, religion, sexual orientation, origin, ability, wealth or age can find
a community to belong to, a door to knock on, and a place to call home.

We dream of this world, because we believe that good things happen when neighbors come together.
We dream of this world, because we believe that local offline connection is what truly makes us human.

The world needs more connected neighborhoods.

Join us in the new neighborhood movement, and let’s make this dream come true.

Do you have a dream for refugee integration you want to make come true? Check out the Diogo Challenge, a European Social Innovation Competition awarding three 50.000 EUR prizes for the best ideas to integrate our newest neighbors. And check out this video below.


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