Despite arriving in their new country with little or nothing, and facing challenges in rebuilding their lives, many refugees overcome these struggles and start their own businesses. Thanks to their unique skills and love of their communities, these businesses enrich the lives around them, including by supporting other refugees and social causes. 

The entrepreneurs listed below are creating innovative products that benefit the refugee community too. Some are social enterprises that reinvest in refugee communities – for example, by offering employment and training to other refugees – while others raise awareness of their home countries and bring their unique perspective as a refugee into their work.

Not just coffee...

Haven Coffee, an events venue, coffee subscription and coffee shop in North London

Haven Coffee is not just a coffee shop. It's a social enterprise built around supporting refugees. Founded by refugee Usman Khalid, the coffee brand and London venue reinvests profits into the refugee community, training refugee baristas and hosting events promoting refugee artists and performers. You can support Haven Coffee by visiting the London shop, attending events (including a stand-up comedy night with refugee performers) and/or getting a fairtrade specially sourced coffee subscription.

Website: Haven Coffee.

Activist cookery classes and catering

Activist and chef Majeda Khouri
Activist and chef Majeda Khouri

A chef and activist from Syria, Majeda Khoury came to the UK after being imprisoned for her human rights work. She set up Syrian Sunflower to use food as a way of bringing people together and raising awareness about Syria. Majeda offers cooking classes and catering.

Follow her on Instagram: @syrian_sunflower_kitchen

Vegan pastries in Covent Garden (via Kyiv)

Cream Dream Vegan Pastry Cafe,
Dream come true: Vegan pastry cafe owner Yelyzaveta Tataryna celebrates the opening in Covent Garden

23-year-old Yelyzaveta Tataryna opened a vegan cafe in London after fleeing the war in Ukraine in 2022. Originally planning to open in Kyiv, the war forced Yelyzaveta to change plans and move to Covent Garden where she now employs other displaced Ukrainians.

Follow Yelyzaveta on Instagram: cream.dream_london

AI-powered language learning  

Chatterbox language learning app
Mursal Hedayat and the team behind

Founded in 2016 by Afghan refugee Mursal Hedayat MBE and co-founder Guillemette Dejean, Chatterbox is a language-learning tool with a social impact. With Chatterbox, companies can develop language learning internally while also supporting refugees who work as professional language coaches on the platform.

Sign up at

Organic farming in Bristol

Ali Al Hlayel (AKA Rocketman) on his farm in Bristol
Organic farmer Ali Al Hlayel (AKA Rocketman) on his plot in Bristol

Ali Al Hlayel is a farmer originally from Syria, where he grew barley and vegetables. Now living in Bristol, Ali (AKA Rocketman) grows organic fresh vegetables on his farm, supplying local restaurants and businesses. 

Follow Rocketman on Facebook.

Sustainable lingerie 

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A post shared by Maria Callisto Lingerie (@maria_callisto)

Maria Igwebuike launched an ethically sourced, sustainable and body positive lingerie label in 2019. The lingerie is made from recycled fabric scraps from local seamstresses and old wedding dresses. Proceeds go to Suffolk Refugee Support, an organisation that used to support Maria.

Website:  Maria Callisto

Community beekeeping

Bees & Refugees community beekeeping experience business London
Bees & Refugees: A community beekeeping enterprise in London

Inspired by his grandfather, a farmer who kept bees in Syria, Ali Alzein began keeping bees in London and found it helped with his own mental health after experiencing the trauma of war.  In late 2019, Ali founded Bees & Refugees to provide therapeutic relief to fellow refugees. Bees & Refugees supports   individuals and communities in their healing journey while promoting environmental sustainability.

Find out more: Bees & Refugees.


African-print fashion

Yeukai Taruvinga, founder of Shumba Boutique
Yeukai Taruvinga, founder of Shumba Boutique, an African-print inspired fashion brand
Photo: Photo: Shumba Boutique

Yeukai fled Zimbabwe at 18 years old after speaking out against the government. Now she runs a fashion business and has founded Active Horizons, an award-winning organisation that supports young people.  

Go to Shumba Boutique.

Handmade jewellery designs  

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A post shared by Huda Abusaleem (@tooshajewellery)

Huda Abusaleem set up her jewellery design business, Toosha, in 2019. Originally from Sudan, Huda began making jewellery when she was a child and is now turning her lifelong passion into a business.  

Instagram: tooshajewellery

Support for refugee businesses in the UK

Many of these businesses benefit from the support of a nonprofit called TERN (The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network) which offers training and mentorship for refugee entreprenuers. Refugees can also access skills training and integration services via IRC