Home / Regions / Africa / BizGees Empowering Changemakers and Community Rebuilding

BizGees Empowering Changemakers and Community Rebuilding

What enables a social enterprise to leverage open innovation and significantly shape the career paths of the next generation? The answer lies in designing platforms that facilitate engagement with social justice and environmental sustainability, especially in the globally overlooked post-conflict regions.

BizGees gained recognition in the social impact sphere in 2016 with its triumph at the UNICEF “FinTech Jam for Good Infosys Challenge.” The organization’s innovative approach has turned refugees into entrepreneurs by furnishing them with the tools to create a financial identity. Presently, BizGees is expanding its support through a Web 3.0 marketplace, enhancing its commitment to the post-conflict communities of Uganda, Pakistan, and Lebanon, with an emphasis on vocational training and skill-building for employment.
BizGees has played a pivotal role in bridging knowledge gaps among stakeholders, engaging with entities like the Boston Consulting Group to inform policy. These partnerships have enriched a UNHCR report with in-depth perspectives on the unique challenges faced by post-conflict regions. Moving beyond conventional poverty relief strategies, BizGees endorses customized solutions that resonate with the actual needs of these communities. Its evaluations underscore the need to address psychological healing, such as PTSD, and the reconstruction of community ties, which can be more vital than generic approaches. The organization is also adept at navigating the intricate realities of these regions, as demonstrated by its cautious recalibration in Swat Valley to avoid unintended support of adversarial groups, adhering to the guidance of security services.

Addressing hardships with tailored strategies in post-conflict areas

In its mission to stabilize the turbulent aftermath of conflict, BizGees has deployed targeted interventions across three distinct regions. Through educational programs and skill development initiatives, the organization has empowered refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) towards financial self-reliance.

Empowering women in Uganda: micro-loans and entrepreneurship

In Uganda, a nation of 43 million hosting over 1.5 million refugees, BizGees has been pivotal in changing lives in the Lira region. By providing interest-free micro-loans without collateral requirements, BizGees enables women to establish micro-businesses. This not only includes start-up capital but also training, inventory provision, and continuous mentorship, drastically reducing the risk of business failure. As entrepreneurs repay their loans, funds are recirculated to assist more individuals, creating a sustainable cycle of empowerment. To date, BizGees has facilitated the inception of three micro-businesses, each co-founded by teams of three to five refugees, laying the groundwork for financial autonomy and inclusion in the global financial ecosystem.

Asian women wearing shawl

Traditional shawl

Reviving artisan craft in Pakistan’s Swat Valley

BizGees fosters resilience in Pakistan’s Swat Valley by nurturing the age-old art of Panjara, the region’s traditional hand-embroidery. Through the Swat Valley Guild (SVG), BizGees connects 20 local artisans to the global fashion scene with a model that prioritizes demand-driven production and sustainability. This initiative not only addresses the fashion industry’s pressing concerns regarding waste and ethical labor practices but also celebrates and sustains local craftsmanship. By facilitating a work-from-home structure, BizGees empowers women artisans to contribute economically while caring for their families. Partnerships, like the one with New York’s Nest Foundation, have culminated in unique creations such as emerald-studded clutch bags, symbolizing a successful merge of traditional craftsmanship with modern luxury markets.

Technological empowerment and ethical marketplaces in Lebanon

Lebanon’s economic crisis has left millions in need of support, including a vast number of displaced Syrians and vulnerable local populations. In response, BizGees has collaborated with the Code Brave – a nonprofit that powers “Lebanon’s next generation with tech skills”. As part of this initiative, GenZ participants have developed gamified content to promote the Arty Refugee program.
Furthermore, the Art4Refugees (A4R) platform, envisioned by BizGees, serves as a conduit for eco-conscious gifting, offering goods that are ethically sourced and boast a low carbon footprint. This marketplace not only showcases the creativity of local artists but also contributes to a virtuous cycle of giving back, with half of the artists’ revenues invested in the post-conflict community of Lira, Uganda.

Engaging GenZ through academic collaborations

BizGees bridges the gap between academia and practical impact through its internships, which emphasize job creation and wealth generation. It has drawn in over 150 student interns from prestigious institutions like Oxford University, King’s College London, and Sciences Po, offering them a chance to apply their studies to real-world problems. This effective partnership earned BizGees the accolade of “Gold Standard Internship Host” from Oxford University Career Services in 2023.
This initiative not only addresses the fashion industry’s pressing concerns regarding waste and ethical labor practices but also celebrates and sustains local craftsmanship.
Students have breathed new life into the stories of distinguished refugee artists, culminating in over 50 profiles on the Arty Refugees platform. These profiles are being transformed into interactive AI-powered micro-games. Furthermore, a student-led podcast has enriched the narrative with over 22 interviews exploring the lives and legacies of these artists, including a critical examination of the fashion industry’s use of refugee models. These interns have also contributed over 235 insightful articles, shedding light on post-conflict community dynamics, refugee challenges, and various issues through a French lens.
Asian woman wearing shawl

Traditional shawl

The student-generated content at BizGees resonates profoundly with their GenZ peers, serving as a beacon of authentic information in an era riddled with misinformation. These articles not only garner attention from professional journalists but also serve as educational briefs for policymakers on developments in post-conflict areas. Distributed via open-access emails, this compelling content reaches an audience of nearly 300 subscribers, attracting approximately 8,000 views each month, thereby widening its impact and fostering a more informed readership.

Continuously striving to enlighten and engage GenZ, BizGees crafted the Arts4Refugees brand in collaboration with this dynamic cohort, recognizing their potential as active change-makers. To deepen its resonance within this community, BizGees harnessed the creative vigor of Taya, a Ukrainian student discovered through the “We Make Change” volunteer network. Her contribution of over 20 captivating videos tailored for GenZ audiences significantly boosted the Arts4Refugees brand’s appeal. Acknowledging her impact, Taya was subsequently invited to ascend as a co-founder of BizGees, to fortify the brand’s outreach amongst her socially conscious peers.

Human-centered design: Core to BizGees’ philosophy

BizGees’ dedication to a human-centered design is evident in every facet of its work, reflecting a deep commitment to creating products and services that resonate on a personal level. The process is a collaborative endeavor with the stakeholders themselves, ensuring that outcomes are profoundly aligned with their needs. The GenZ brand, Arts4refugees, stands as a prime example of this ethos, brought to life through a partnership with GenZ individuals. At the heart of this practice is a human needs framework, a blueprint that guides BizGees to meet a broad spectrum of stakeholder needs with empathy and effectiveness.

Seeking collaborative growth and greater awareness

As it forges ahead, BizGees is actively seeking collaborations that can propel its noble mission forward. The goal is to not only transform refugees into entrepreneurs in post-conflict areas but also to broaden the public consciousness of the refugee plight, particularly among the GenZ audience. BizGees welcomes alliances with investors and media platforms that are keen to magnify this cause, thus extending the reach and impact of stories from the often overlooked, post-conflict communities around the globe.
Jackie Abramian has been a regular contributor to Ms. Magazine, The Progressive, EuroNewsweek, March8, and formerly to Forbes, Grid Daily News, Thrive Global, and HuffPost. She serves as an advisor and board member on various social enterprises, impact investment firms, and NGOs and is a corporate communications strategist and founder ... Read more
Zulfiqar Deo is co-founder of BizGees, a web 3 fintech marketplace, and an advisor at Entrepreneur Futures Network, who previously advised at MarketPlace Risk. He supported entrepreneurs with Oxford University Entrepreneurship Society, King's College (London), NYU Stern Executive MBA program, and Mass Challenge. Previously, for 10 years he helped 2,000 ... Read more
Impact Entrepreneur Premium Members get full, priority access to ValuesAdvisor. A curated database of values-aligned financial advisors.

Related Content



Submit a Comment

Impact Entrepreneur on YouTube - IETV

Deep Dives

No posts found.


Editor's Picks


News & Events

More News & Events

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive updates about new Magazine content and upcoming webinars, deep dives, and events.

Access all of Impact Entrepreneur.

Become a Premium Member to access the full library of webinars and deep dives, exclusive membership portal, member directory, message board, and curated live chats.

ie frog