Charity Spotlight: Catalysr Foundation

Catalysr is a Sydney based pre-accelerator program supporting migrants and refugees to launch their own startups. Their mission is to create a “migrapreneurial revolution”, by empowering and enabling migrants and refugees in Australia to start their own businesses and create their own futures. 


They do this work via running intensive entrepreneurship programs for high-performing migrant and refugee entrepreneurs, who they call ‘Migrapreneurs’, who want to find success in Australia. It’s a place for people with fresh ideas who are ready to dream, work hard, and challenge themselves to bring their big ideas to life.


Since 2016,

● Catalysr has supported nearly 400 migrapreneurs.

● They have created 150 businesses and counting.

● The Catalysr community has grown to include 1000+ professionals, advisors and investors.


Catalysr was born out of the will to help unemployed and underemployed migrants and refugees utilise their skills, start their own business and succeed. 


After migrating to Australia from Pakistan, Catalysr co-founder Usman Iftikhar found it difficult to gain meaningful employment. In an interview with Lateline, Usman states that "statistics show that 60 to 65 percent of the people who come to Australia as either refugees or migrants are either unemployed or underemployed, so they are not working in their industry." He "did the research and I found there are a lot of cultural barriers, like we don't really know how the market operates there, or network barriers."


So how do they help? With annual programs that support migrapreneurs, along with ongoing support. These include:


The Ideate Program


The Ideate Program is a pre-accelerator program offered to 100 Migrapreneurs. The program, run this year entirely online, consists of weekly masterclasses on developing a start-up, collaborative work, community events and networking to help migrapreneurs test and validate their ideas, and help to develop their business and strategy.


The Accelerate Program


Accelerate is a three-month program available for 25 start-ups every year.  The program involves a start-up Bootcamp, alongside one-on-one mentoring with world-class entrepreneurs-in-Residence, weekly events, networking, and a pitch “demo day” for startups to meet investors and to gain ongoing support.


Catalysr’s great work has not gone unnoticed. In 2018, co-founder Usman was awarded the Commonwealth’s highest honour for young achievers, presented by Prince Harry at London’s QE2 Centre. Usman states, “We don’t tell people what to do. We find a problem they’re trying to fix through their business, then help them with mentoring and capital to help it become a reality.”


“It has been an incredible journey of learning and experience with Catalysr. They have a team of expert mentors and the pre-accelerator program is highly organised which not only benefits start-ups but also the individuals. As full time workers, we got the much-needed support and push from Catalysr which helped our start-up Natural Panaa with product portfolio development, customer validation and networking. We are proud to have been part of Catalysr’s 2018 Cohort and we highly recommend this program to all new start-ups who are looking for some direction and encourage them to apply” - Premjith Herman & Misha Ahmed, Natural Panaa (C18)


Catalysr Podcast: Migrapreneur Stories


Migrapreneur Stories is a podcast produced by Catalysr, trailing migrant entrepreneurs who have found success in Australia and the stories behind the start-ups they built. They interview a variety of migrant and refugee entrepreneurs, or migrapreneurs, to learn about their stories, grit, perseverance and how they have fought against all odds to be incredible at what they do! Through the podcast, Catalysr aims to inspire a new generation of migrant founders by sharing stories of driven, passionate and successful migrant founders in Australia.


Demo Day

For the past three months, Catalysr has been working with a tenacious group of Migrapreneurs. As their Accelerate program comes to an end, the cohort is gearing up to pitch their tech and social businesses to investors, corporates and the wider startup community.

The event will kick off online at 6pm, Wednesday November 18th.
You are invited to join us in celebrating and elevating these Migrapreneur-led startups as they strive to make an impact in Australia and the world. Grab your tickets here."


To stay in touch with Catalysr, you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram.


Want to help better the lives of migrants and refugees? Learn how you can donate to Catalysr with charityBay by clicking here: https://www.charitybay.org/charity-list/catalysr-foundation-ltd


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