Catalysr partners with EnergyLab to support migrapreneurs building clean energy startups

- July 10, 2018 2 MIN READ

Cleantech-focused accelerator program EnergyLab has partnered with Sydney organisation Catalysr to give early-stage ‘migrapreneurs’ working in the cleantech and energy space access to tailored resources and support.

The partnership will see up to 50 entrepreneurs from Catalysr’s pre-accelerator program, which supports migrant and refugee-founded startups, given access to desk space and mentoring from EnergyLab. The organisations is keen to assist them in then applying for the EnergyLab accelerator program, which is backed by Origin Energy.

According to Usman Iftikhar, CEO of Catalysr, the partnership will help boost diversity in the energy and cleantech space.

“Migrants and Refugees who become entrepreneurs change not only their own lives but also make businesses inclusive from the start…our vision is to harness diversity to create Australia 2.0, with a strong mission to create 10,000 jobs in the next 10 years,” he said.

Piers Grove, managing director of EnergyLab, echoed this thought, saying that given migrants make up almost 30 percent of the Australian population, it’s “high time our industry was representative of its own customer base”.

“Studies have also shown repeatedly that more diverse Boards and business leadership frequently results in better performing companies so partnering with Catalysr on their excellent program is a no brainer socially and economically for the energy sector,” he said.

“The clean tech and energy sectors will be undergoing a fundamental shift and technological disruption in the next ten years and the best way to prepare for this is to make our businesses more agile and as diverse as they can possibly be.”

Founded by Iftikhar and Jake Muller, Catalysr runs a six month-long pre-accelerator program for ‘migrapreneur’-led startups; that is, at least one cofounder must be a refugee or first-generation migrant.

The term ‘migrapreneur’ is one Catalysr came up with, Iftikhar explained, in a bid to overcome the stigma often attached to the words ‘migrants’ and ‘refugees’.

“A third of all small businesses in Australia are owned by migrants and, according to Startup Muster, more than 35 percent of startup founders were born outside Australia. This is a phenomenal track record that should be recognised and celebrated with a new word,” he said.

Joining these organisations in looking to recognise the contribution of migrants to the Australian community is fintech company TransferWise, which has unveiled a new campaign, Faces of Australia, to showcase the diversity of Australia.

Also featuring Iftikhar, Faces of Australia follows the company’s Aussies without Borders campaign, launched last December, which sought to bring the tech and startup community together to recognise the contributions of migrants and refugees to Australia and call on the government to support more immigration.

Image: Usman Iftikhar as part of TransferWise’s Faces of Australia campaign.