Introduction to Five One Labs

How it all began.

A couple of months ago we were having a conversation about the global refugee crisis that sparked an idea and a lot of questions.

As we see it, the current humanitarian aid paradigm has a lot of challenges. Humanitarian organizations are built to provide lifesaving aid to displaced people in some of the world’s hardest contexts. However, this immediate, short term aid isn’t designed to alleviate the longterm effects – particularly the social and economic impacts – of protracted displacement. More and more, refugees are being displaced for years, if not decades. And yet refugees are still treated at best as beneficiaries and at worst as burdens.

What’s lost in this narrative is the refugee themselves: their history, their skills, their potential. And most of all, their interests, ideas, and dignity. We often forget that refugees had a life and livelihood before being displaced. Once they are displaced, they are rebranded with one word, “refugee,” that limits their ability to remain productive, respected members of society.

Russell Watkins/Department for International Development

Russell Watkins/Department for International Development

We believe entrepreneurship is one way to leverage the past experiences, ideas, skills and creativity of refugees to rebuild their livelihoods and contribute productively to their new host community.

We are developing an accelerator for refugee-led startups that provides them with the platform to build their businesses and create positive change in their lives and communities. We realize this is an ambitious goal, so we wanted to create this blog to spark a conversation, share our process, and work with you as we turn our idea into a reality.

Who are we?

Sophia is a women’s health specialist who is passionate about empowering women worldwide using market-based solutions. She has also worked for an online startup accelerator.

Patricia is a Lebanese American who loves the Middle East and Iraq. She has a background in business risk analysis in the Middle East.

Alice has a humanitarian and innovation background and has spent time in the Middle East and Iraq. She is passionate about integrating humanitarian work and entrepreneurial approaches.

We’ve been developing a potential model and are in the process of testing our ideas and assumptions. We’re starting this blog to share our process, what we’re learning, and what questions we’re pondering with you.

We hope you’ll join us.