Our story

What is Startup Refugees?

Startup Refugees is a social innovation that offers asylum seekers, refugees, and other immigrants support in finding employment, developing their professional skills, and starting a business in Finland. We have a network of more than 2000 members including companies, private and public sector organisations, and individuals.

By collecting the professional profiles to our Match database we obtain valuable information regarding the real needs of newcomers, needs that guide all our actions. It means that when you offer a job opportunity, mentoring or other support through us, we always match your offer to the newcomer who has a real need for it. 100% of the people who have a profile in Match are motivated and ready to work, update their skills, grow their network, and many want to start their own business!

We are funded by public project grants, grants from private foundations and by direct contributions from companies. We also sell certain services to organisations nationwide.

Our values

Hands on

We spend our time with our customers. We do what it takes.

Based on need

Everything we do is based on the needs of our customers.

No false promises

We only promise to do our best.

Everything is possible

We are not afraid to think and do big. We act fast, fail fast, and learn fast.

Together

We work with everyone who wants to do something concrete to support our goal.

Our vision and mission

Our vision is an inclusive society where refugees, asylum seekers and migrants have fast and equal access to a meaningful professional life.

Our mission is to accelerate the inclusion of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants through employment, entrepreneurship and skills development. We walk the talk.   

Startup Refugees has created a fast employment and entrepreneurship inclusion model that answers to the real needs of newcomers and society. 

In 2023 we won the European Entrepreneurship Promotion Awards in the category of Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship at the SME Assembly in Bilbao.

In 2022 we were chosen as the Innovator in Recruiting by Rekrygaala.

In 2017 we were chosen as finalists in the Builders of the Century -competition and received funding from Finland’s 100 Year Anniversary of Independence Fund (Suomi 100) governed by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Our board

Tom Miller, Chairman of the board

Tom is a sales and banking professional. He has had a long, 20 years career in banking, specifically in product and process development, segmentation and value proposition, strategy, sales leadership and management, and leadership at a C-level. Currently he works as Director of Risk and Finance at the Financial Compliance Group.

Reetta Räty

Reetta is an experienced and well-known journalist and entrepreneur on the Finnish media scene. She has worked as a journalist in many newspapers, and later as Managing Director of Helsingin Sanomat. Reetta has taught journalism at the University of Tampere, and has extensive experience leading people, projects and events.

Antti Innanen

Antti is the co-founder and CEO of Dot. Legal Design. He is a legal design pioneer and also the co-founder of Legal Design Summit, the biggest legal design event in the world. He is a frequently requested presenter at various legal design seminars such as Legal Geek, Legal Hackers and JDHorizons.

Tommo Koivusalo

Tommo is a business professional and former entrepreneur who is an expert in developing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Finland. Tommo was in charge of Haaga Helia’s StartUp School that supports students’ in entrepreneurship. He has also managed Helsinki’s services for entrepreneurs and startups and worked as Director of the Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce. Currently Tommo is the Business Director at the City of Vantaa.

Camilla Weurlander

Camilla has a long working history in the service industry. For her, the most important thing is people, and she has strong expertise on Human Resources and Customer Service. Camilla joined IKEA Finland 17 years ago, and has had multiple different roles inside the organization. Currently she works as a Regional Director for IKEA Espoo.

Elisa Vepsäläinen

Elisa is a former CEO of Startup Refugees. She is specialized in questions related to social impact & responsibility. Elisa is an expert in growing and scaling social innovations and building brands that have meaning. Currently she is heading international recruitments at Attendo/Silkroad.

Learn more about some of our projects: