EDNA Mobile Incubator

Entrepreneurship on the move

EDNA is a grass-roots incubator that engages directly with refugees to harness their unrealised talent and ambition.

Grass-roots engagement is the refugee way of life. They fled countries that don’t have social services. Business happens in the street, in homes and through relationships.

EDNA knows that marginalised-entrepreneurship is organic. It doesn’t fit within institutions or organisations, which of course are essential to the startup ecosystem. Entrepreneurship happens in the spaces in between.

ENDA, based in the NSW Northern Rivers, travels to refugee-settlement communities to launch start-ups and build refugee-community capacity to develop their economic autonomy.

EDNA Armidale: September 2020 

The Ezidi Restaurant 

September 2020: In three weeks with no start-up capital and significant language barriers, EDNA worked with two Ezidi refugees and mothers to launch “The Ezidi Restaurant” as a Market stall.

The new entrepreneurs and talented home cooks had lived in Armidale from 18 -24 months..

Neither women had previous formal education or any business experience.

Louise was shopping at the only Ezidi owned business in Armidale, an Ezidi supermarket where she met one of the women’s husband. He speaks little English yet invited Louise home to meet his family. where she was hosted with a spread of incredible food.

Louise asked why the food wasn’t selling at the local markets and she heard the same fallacious narrative that she’d heard from local service providers – that refugees cannot gain meaningful work until they have mastered the English language. Louise refuted that argument and asked if they’d invite any interested friends to a business meeting the next evening in their home. 

One bilingual person can bridge the divide between entrepreneur talent and entrepreneurial mentoring.

That first night, their 13-year-old daughter was that bilingual person.Three families came and on 3rd September 2020 the Ezidi restaurant concept was conceived. By 27 September 2020 it was trading at the Armidale Markets and product had sold out within three hours!

Armidale Sanctuary, an NGO established to assist refugee settlement loaned and donated equipment to get the first stall to market.

The new entrepreneurs will use profits generated from their first trading to invest in their own equipment to consolidate and grow their start-up.

Other Ezidi now know what is possible and are excited by other start-up possibilities.

And their spoken English will develop. Language is best learned in context, in conversations, in relationships and when people are doing something they love, they are fully awake and able to learn.