New Roots Stories: Gamifying social impact in migrant communities
4 April 2023 - Impact Hub London

In 2022, Impact Hub teamed up with GoDaddy once again, this time to develop the New Roots alumni pilot programme to give additional support to those entrepreneurs who had already gone through the New Roots experience.

Since 2020, New Roots is our free business support programme, powered by GoDaddy, offering bespoke 1:1 mentorship, peer-to-peer sessions, and workshops. The programme assists local entrepreneurs from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds in Camden and Islington, providing them with entrepreneurial knowledge, training, and the tools they need to achieve success. This year, New Roots collaborated with an external business consultant, Sarah Rafique, who helped design the programme, using her experience of running a social enterprise to add value to the experience of participants. 

In the alumni pilot, we welcomed back  Zey Binboga, the co-founder of Kurdish House London and who was been supported in developing her own business, Displaced, through New Roots 2.0. We sat down with Zey to talk about the alumni pilot and the progress of her business since she first became a part of New Roots.

Can you tell us about your experience with Impact Hub London and New Roots?

Being of Kurdish origin is a large part of my identity and a significant influence on my work and business. My dad is Kurdish, and my mum is German and Cypriot. I was born and raised in London until I was 11 when I moved to Cyprus for six or seven years and then came back to London.

I wanted to get to know other entrepreneurs who are Kurdish, which is when got involved in the Kurdish House London community which was based in Impact Hub. We organised recruitment events for the first New Roots cohort to make the programme known to our network, helping entrepreneurs shape their business ideas and offering our help to them to tackle the unique challenges associated with ethnic minorities. In 2020 I joined the second wave of the programme, and that is when I started developing the idea of Displaced.

Displaced is a community-focused organisation that provides workshops for diverse youth. Young people from diverse communities sometimes lose touch with the richness of culture, history, heritage and experiences that come from being a part of an ethnic minority. The goal of Displaced is to reconnect young adults with their community through conversations, like a form of group therapy, but fun!

Why did you choose to come back to New Roots?

What attracted me the most was having Sarah, the additional consultant, on the programme. We both come from minoritised backgrounds, which can come with our issues, that other people don’t necessarily understand. It can be difficult to feel like you belong in the business world and still be authentic and culturally expressive.

What were some of the difficulties you faced with your business before you joined the programme?

Before I started the alumni programme, I had paused Displaced as I was trying to get more experience running a social enterprise and testing Displaced’s methodology.  I initially thought about focusing on grants, but, due to my experience running Kurdish House London and collaborating with other grassroots community organisations, I realised that grants could be unsustainable and restrictive. I was having trouble trying to make an income without having to charge workshop participants.  

What have been the effects of the programme regarding the challenges you were facing? 

It’s been a total game-changer. The practical support I’ve received has helped me think of new ways to generate products and services creatively. For example,  one of my core products is a card game that helps initiate difficult conversations in a more intimate setting. Through the vehicle of a game, we can more easily approach difficult or traumatic conversations, helping people to connect with less resistance. 

My perspective as a founder has changed significantly through this experience. Now I understand ways to make an earned income and not rely solely on grant funding. 

Zey is raising funds to launch Displaced, via a Crowdfunder campaign. You can support her work here.