Five One Labs is a start-up incubator launched by Alice Bosley ’17SIPA, ’17SIPA Patricia Letayf, and Sophia Burton ’17SIPA that helps refugees and conflict-affected entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses in the Middle East.
Because of the ongoing conflicts in Syria and Iraq, nearly five million Syrians have fled their homes for safety in neighboring countries and in Europe, while a further three million Iraqis have been internally displaced. These millions of Syrians and Iraqis join the over 65 million displaced people around the world, the largest displacement ever in history. Five One Labs was proposed as a way to support refugees and conflict-affected communities to create more sustainable, empowered livelihoods. The name Five One comes from the 1951 Refugee Convention that gives refugees the right to work.
The organization ran its first pilot in March and April of 2017 with 14 entrepreneurs, including 40% displaced and 50% female entrepreneurs. Since then, the organization has officially registered in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, where the team reached over 300 aspiring entrepreneurs during its Summer Startup Festival this July! Check out a video and article about the Startup Festival to see what sorts of incredible ideas our entrepreneurs are coming up with. Based on the lessons learned from these trainings, Five One is launched its first 3-month incubator cohort in the Fall of 2017 to provide 10-15 teams with training, mentorship, community, and funding.
It takes a village to raise a child, and a global village to support entrepreneurs. Five One Labs’ impressive young people need mentors, collaborators, champions, and donors to allow them to take their business from idea to launch, so Five One Labs kicked off a crowdfunding campaign on September 13, 2017 to raise the money necessary to launch its first cohort.
Columbia Community: Five One Labs won one of the first-place prizes for the Dean’s Public Policy Challenge at SIPA in 2017.