This has been the decade of the global entrepreneur, and tv formats such as ‘Dragons Den‘ and ‘Shark Tank‘ have further motivated venture-seekers to sniff out and create business opportunities worldwide. One such enterprise is launching in London, serving the needs of the migrant entrepreneur.
It’s the brainchild of successful London-based Brazilian-born business expert Rafael dos Santos who is opening the doors to London’s first co-working space targeting the niche gap in a growing market for migrant individuals and groups.
Located in Aldgate East, Whitechapel, the hub provides an affordable serviced office space to help people grow and nurture their businesses. Think of it as a micro-version of what national Virgin Startup enterprise provides, and specifically catering to the diverse needs of migrant communities.
Rafael dos Santos has created mi-HUB to overcome the difficulties that migrant entrepreneurs face when starting or running a business in London.
Speaking to @vinsharma this week, Rafael told us:
“Mi-Hub has been set up to fill the gaps from the lessons and experiences I myself faced as a migrant entrepreneur trying to build a business in London.” he said.
He went on to add:
“Although Mi-Hub is open to anyone looking to base in London at an affordable price, targeting migrant communities was something I wanted to do as I remember how difficult it can be. With possible language and cultural barriers, sometimes lack of educational qualifications recognised in the host country or even a feeling of being alone and without a network. I wanted to provide a space that covers all of these areas to help.”
Santos has a great understanding in how to support entrepreneurs and how to provide opportunities which encourage business growth. In addition to mi-HUB’s competitively priced serviced offices it therefore also offers training through a programme called the Migrant Business Accelerator. The six-month course led by Santos himself focuses on helping participants to structure their business to access finance, another one of the key barriers for migrant entrepreneurs in particular.
Santos moved to London at the age of 21 in 2002 after living in Sao Paulo, one of the world’s largest cities, for two years. He left his job in Brazil as a support analyst at Microsoft to learn English in London.
Speaking about his early experiences in London, Santos told @vinsharma
“In Brazil I was living what would be classed as a middle-class lifestyle. I could afford to go to restaurants, and had a good life. But when I arrived in London, I was struggling. I worked in a number of menial jobs and making ends meet was tough.” he said.
— mi-HUB (@mihublondon) August 23, 2016
“I just got tired of eating low cost meals and it was even affecting my health. I decided then that I am going to work hard and do whatever it takes to make a success, and thankfully my natural persistence and determination paid off.”
Whilst working in lower-paid jobs, an opportunity to manage houses came available and within two years later Santos was running his own estate agency business. In 11 years his portfolio grew from 1 to 50 homes, 15 members of staff and a turnover of £1.2 million. Rafael rented accommodation to more than 2,000 young professionals and student migrants.
In 2015 Rafael began his mission to support migrant entrepreneurs who wanted to start or grow their businesses. He introduced the Migrant Business Accelerator programme as a pilot project which featured 25 mentors who donated their time to help participants train for the future. The programme evolved to become what is now about to launch, mi-HUB.
Speaking about the upcoming launch of Mi-Hub, Santos told us:
“I worked hard to achieve my dreams and tackled the challenges migrant entrepreneurs face. It’s difficult relocating to a new country and even harder to start a business. It’s incredibly rewarding that I am now in a position to help other migrant entrepreneurs from around the world.”
The mi-Hub enterprise has been funded with the assistance of investments which have been secured by Santos and his team, and he has also himself injected his own money into the project.
As in the days of his early experience of arriving in London from Brazil, Santos has a vision for the future which he is determined to achieve, and with his great success so far no one can deny the resilient nature required to make any venture successful.
We asked if he had any advice for both migrant and wider communities looking to achieve success in the current post-Brexit climate in London. Santos advised:
“It is always difficult for any entrepreneur to achieve success and each person is different, but the key qualities you need to have are persistence and a lack of fear for hard work. Migrant communities worldwide are known for being resilient as they often face added obstacles and struggles. To those who arrive in a new country I would say seek out your own community members for support first and then progress wider as another key for success is to also try and integrate and not segregate if possible.”
— mi-HUB (@mihublondon) August 24, 2016
As Mi-Hub opens it’s doors within the next month, Santos holds a vision for where he wishes to see it’s future over the next year. His aim is to help one million entrepreneurs in the next ten years and having already welcomed the first few, he looks forward to welcoming the many others about to come through his doors.
Check out the TEDX talk by Rafael dos Santos talking about the migrant entrepreneur experience:
mi-HUB, when it opens next month will host 150 entrepreneurs and offers a variety of desk options in a modern environment based in London. The office space benefits from private offices, boardrooms, meeting rooms and the ability to host large events. Alongside the professional facilities a large balcony, kitchen, shower room and multiple relaxing break out areas are provided to the members of mi-HUB.
FOR MORE INFO VISIT: www.mi-hub.com/
Connect with Rafael dos Santos via: rafaeldossantos.com/
News Report written for SPUTNIK INTERNATIONAL by @vinsharma