Generation Launch is a bold social impact program designed to increase the engagement and success of refugees and migrants in the Victorian startup ecosystem. The project was designed by Unbound, a Victorian educational social enterprise, in collaboration with multicultural, refugee and educational organisations across the state.
The project used multiple initiatives to support entrepreneurial skills including a series of interactive and immersive events; educational programs (in partnership with six Victorian universities); and a major entrepreneurship event (Unbound Ideas). Working with people seeking asylum, migrants and international students, the program has seen outstanding results and great engagement.
The research outlined three core challenges and Generation Launch aimed to address these.
> Skills — Collaborating with Victoria’s leading educational institutions, practical case studies and skill-building workshops were developed with a strong focus on “Ideas into Action”.
> Networks — People and connections are key to the success of any business and Generation Launch focussed heavily on partnerships and building personal connections, including a major event.
> Experience — The best way to learn to do something is to do it. This program focussed on real-world learning including the establishment of a migrant-focussed Social Enterprise Incubator.
This Generation Launch program was designed to be a social-impact initiative to build entrepreneurial skills and support migrants and refugees across the ecosystem. The goals were engagement, education and participation. This impact was achieved through the following ways.
> Discovering Best Practice — The program was co-designed to ensure best practice including with leading asylum-seeker and refugee support groups, notably the Asylum Seeker Resource Center and the Brotherhood of St Laurence. Leading approaches in entrepreneurship education was ensured by working with senior lecturers and academics in entrepreneurship including from RMIT University, University of Melbourne and Swinburne University.
> Systemic Change — Through this program Unbound led the development of a Community of Practice around supporting migrants in entrepreneurship education with high quality educational resources (endorsed by the International Education Association of Australia), case studies and workshops shared freely and widely as a resource for the sector. This help ensure wider systemic change than one-off activities and events.
> Ongoing Impact — By working with partner educational institutions, the programs developed will have ongoing impact and be appropriately resourced and supported. Success stories of projects – including people that have launched businesses or secured work in startup companies will be ongoing mentors and case studies for future programs.
Generation Launch aims to create transformative change regarding diversity and entrepreneurship.
> Showcasing Migrants, Asylum Seekers and Refugees as Change Agents — through educational programs such as an International Womens Day Panel which showcased the success stories of refugee and migrant women CEOs, this program aims to transform perceptions. This is inspiring to other migrants, while also positively impacting the broader Australian community.
> Learning by Doing — Working with universities, the Generation Launch program has embedded action-based learning into programs that are often talk and textbook heavy. Engaging international students with real-world learning and ensuring they have the chance to experience a startup first hand this program is seen as best practice in Work Integrated Learning and was an invited case study shared with the WIL Community of Practice and the International Association Education of Australia Learning and Teaching Forum.
> Partnership for Success — through this program Unbound has supported the development of ongoing linkages between business, education and the social impact sector. These are ongoing, personal and real.
Generation Launch has applied some innovative approaches that have seen the program achieve some distinct outcomes.
> Collaboration above Competition — This initiative worked with all major universities in the state in a space where they are often aiming to differentiate and compete, rather than work together. This program, united by a shared vision of innovation and supporting diverse groups, has been a great success and a series of resource-sharing and event collaborations has been a positive result.
> Change the Faces — Too many startup and business events and activities feature people with similar backgrounds and stories. Through Generation Launch we put diverse ideas, stories and people on stage – from women escaping their home country to avoid persecution; to young innovators still in school. The program prioritised business for good (from supporting women in rural Pakistan to providing jobs in the food section for refugees in Melbourne) above money as the key metric for success.
> Fun — This process should be enjoyable and Generation Launch prioritised the ‘vibe’ – great experiences with great people.
This program was truly a collaborative effort and involved expertise from migrant support groups including the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, Brotherhood of St Laurence, and Catalyser; educational institutions including the University of Melbourne, RMIT University, Swinburne University, Monash University, LaTrobe University, Deakin University, Wade Institute, Ability English; and various startup and entrepreneurship groups including Enactus, Spark Deakin, The Activator, The Generator, Global Ideas, Melbourne Knowledge Week and more.
The program received funding support from LaunchVic – the state’s startup agency; and in-kind support from dozens of individuals and groups.