E.g., 09/25/2021
E.g., 09/25/2021
Social Innovation for Refugee Inclusion (SI4RI): Sowing Innovation in the Cracks of Crisis
Upcoming Event
October 4, 2021

Virtual Conference

Social Innovation for Refugee Inclusion (SI4RI): Sowing Innovation in the Cracks of Crisis

Conference Logo 2021
Monday, October 4, 2021

Monday - 2:15-6:00 P.M. CEST (Brussels, Berlin) / 1:30-5:00 P.M. BST (London) / 8:15 A.M.-12:00 P.M.  ET (New York, DC)

Tuesday - 2:15-6:00 P.M. CEST (Brussels, Berlin) / 1:15-5:00 P.M. BST (London) / 8:15 A.M.-12:00 P.M.  ET (New York, DC)


Virtual Conference

This virtual conference will explore how the diverse landscape of partnerships, social enterprises, participatory models, and community-led initiatives spearheading social innovation for inclusion has fared during COVID-19. It will also discuss how this ecosystem can emerge strengthened from the pandemic, and be a vital force in addressing new humanitarian challenges. 

In recent years, as migration and global displacement have changed the fabric of communities on both sides of the Atlantic, many public, private, and community-based actors have joined forces around a common goal: shaping inclusive, cohesive, and prosperous communities in diversity. Mobilizing untapped resources, they pioneered hundreds of innovations for newcomer inclusion—from skill-profiling apps to co-housing models—often benefiting from the leadership and entrepreneurial energy of refugees and migrants. Yet important weaknesses have remained. The spread of innovations has been geographically uneven, and promising solutions have often lacked the tools to deliver change at scale.

Over the past one-and-a-half years, the outbreak of COVID-19 has tested the adaptability and resilience of this young and evolving field. The pandemic has exacerbated disadvantage for refugees and migrants in job markets, education, and civic life. At the same time, it has upended forms of outreach, engagement, funding, and service delivery upon which social enterprises and community-based initiatives often rely, forcing them to innovate.

At the present juncture, as the dramatic situation in Afghanistan evokes memories of recent displacement crises, there is renewed urgency to examine how social innovation can contribute to the safety and inclusion of those seeking protection, while catalyzing solidarity and cohesion within communities.

This Social Innovation for Refugee Inclusion conference (SI4RI 2021) will include insights and experiences from Europe and North America, as well as select voices from other regions. Social entrepreneurs, community-based organizations, and refugee and migrant associations will participate alongside representatives from the private sector, academia, and authorities at local, national, and EU level. Participants will engage in a community of dialogue and practice to discuss rapidly evolving challenges and promising responses. Breakout sessions will allow attendees to engage in depth with key themes: advancing digital equity and inclusion; promoting the participation of migrant women; exploring inclusive narratives to foster social cohesion; leveraging small and rural communities’ innovativeness; and more.   

On the conference website, you will find also find the conference program and speakers, which we will keep updating over the coming weeks.  


2:15 - 2:45 P.M. CEST

Welcoming Remarks

Relax & Networking

2:50 - 4:00 P.M. CEST

The COVID-19 Crisis: A "Make-or-Break" Moment for Social Innovation for Inclusion?
Plenary Session

Kenny Clewett, Director, Ashoka Hello Europe Initiative

Mustafa Alio,  Managing Director, R-SEAT (Refugees Seeking Equal Access at the Table)

Fayrouz Saad, Director of Public Engagement, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)

  • How has the pandemic affected civil society, social enterprises, and other key players that have driven forward social innovation for inclusion in recent years—both in Europe and North America?
  • What models of engagement have suffered more? Which ones have proven more resilient, and what were their adaptation strategies? What new forms of community engagement and solidarity have originated amid crisis, and how sustainable are they?
  • What role has social innovation played in responding to new forms of marginalization and inequality exacerbated by COVID-19, supporting the most vulnerable while preventing rifts within diverse communities?
  • Looking ahead, what new opportunities and challenges may arise for social innovation for refugee and migrant inclusion amid transforming economies, technologies, welfare states, and societies?
4:00 - 4:15 P.M. CEST

Coffee Break

Relax & Networking

4:15 - 5:30 P.M. CEST

We’re All In This Together? The Potential of Narratives to Strengthen Social Cohesion.
Breakout Sessions - Day 1

Agnieszka Kosowicz, President of the Board, Polish Migration Forum

Suzette Brooks Masters, Senior Strategist, Center for Inclusion and Belonging, American Immigration Council

Sophie van Haasen, Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) Mayors Mechanism

  • How have public and political narratives around diversity and inclusion evolved in Europe and North America over the past year—under the combined pressures of pandemic as well as migration, economic, and demographic trends?
  • What new trends of scapegoating and xenophobia have emerged? At the same time, how have new initiatives at different levels—from local efforts to international campaigns—sought to promote more positive narratives around diversity?
  • How can innovative public communication strategies contribute to keeping up investments in migrant and refugee inclusion as diverse societies in Europe and North America move out of crisis?

Where Challenges Intersect: Promoting the Inclusion of Migrant Women and Vulnerable Groups
Breakout Sessions - Day 1

Beba Svigir, Chief Executive Officer, Calgary Immigrant Women's Association

Lama Jaghjougha, Founder, Raise Women's Awareness Network

Kava Spartak, Director, YAAR e.V

  • How has the pandemic exacerbated the heightened vulnerabilities faced by some groups of migrants and refugees—such as women, LGBTQI migrants, children, the elderly, the homeless?
  • What approaches have shown promise in addressing intersecting forms of disadvantage?
  • What models can help leverage the entrepreneurialism, innovativeness, and resilience of migrant and refugee women, whose vital role in societies on both sides of the Atlantic has been further highlighted by the pandemic?
5:30 - 6:00 P.M. CEST

Coffee & Networking Break

Relax & Networking

2:15 - 3:30 P.M. CEST

Planning and Shaping Inclusive Post-COVID-19 Recovery
Plenary Session

Anila Noor, Founder/member, EC Expert Group on the Views of Migrants / Women´s Connector

Scarlet Cronin, Acting Executive Director, The Tent Partnership for Refugees

Katharina Bamberg, Policy Advisor on Migration and Integration, Eurocities

Christina Pope, Senior Director, Welcoming International

  • How can government, the private sector, and social-sector organizations partner to design and promote strategies for post-COVID-19 recovery that reflect the needs and resources of diverse communities? Where can we identify examples of these strategies?
  • How can ‘social innovation for inclusion’ evolve into ‘inclusive social innovation’—expanding opportunities for diverse groups to participate in social entrepreneurship, community engagement, and policymaking?
3:30 - 4:45 P.M. CEST

Refugee and Migrant Inclusion in Smaller and Rural Communities
Breakout Sessions - Day 2

David Campbell, President, Jupia Consultants Inc.

Andrea Soler Eslava, Senior Rural Integration Project Manager, International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC)

Danielle Gluns, Head of the Research and Transfer Office for Migration Policy, University of Hildesheim

  • As smaller towns and rural areas have stepped up their efforts to welcome refugees and migrants in recent years, what can we learn about these communities’ resources and limitations in promoting social inclusion and cohesion? What new bottlenecks has the pandemic generated?
  • What does social innovation for inclusion look like in rural areas, and what conditions does it need to develop? How is it linked with other trends shaping the future of small and rural communities—such as demographics, infrastructural, and environmental ones?
  • How can small communities successfully transfer and adapt innovative practices that originated in larger cities? At the same time, how can they nurture ‘home-grown’ innovations specifically tailored to their context?

Digital Equity: How Will Rapid Digitization Impact Migrant and Refugee Inclusion?
Breakout Sessions - Day 2

Imad Elabdala, Founder, Hero2B and Kidnovation

Josephine Goube, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Techfugees for Impact

Marco Campana, Freelance Communications Consultant

  • What lessons can recent innovations provide on how to advance migrant and refugee inclusion through digital services—particularly in a context of social and physical distancing?
  • What limitations, challenges, and inequities should social innovators in civil society, the private sector, and government keep in mind when exploring the potential of tech for inclusion?
  • What investments are necessary to ensure that digitization does not lead to widening inequalities in diverse communities and societies?

Strengthening the Social Innovation Ecosystem in Challenging Times
Breakout Sessions - Day 2

Eleanor Paton, Senior Policy Officer, IRC-BRAN

Awmaima Amrayaf, Pro Bono Legal Officer and Coordinator of ‘Know Your Rights’ program, DLA Piper

Asma Naimi, Esade Business School

  • How can we maximize the contribution of social-innovation models and players to advance refugee and migrant inclusion, especially in times of crisis and uncertainty? For this to happen, what key questions need to be addressed—for example, around financing, scaling, digitization, and inclusiveness of social entrepreneurship?
  • What has been the private sector’s contribution to countering refugee and migrant vulnerability during the COVID-19 crisis—as an investor, employer, and knowledge provider? What opportunities exist to strengthen private-sector involvement?


4:45 - 5:00 P.M. CEST 

Coffee & Networking Break

Relax & Networking

5:00 - 6:00 CEST 

Innovation Within Government. Rethinking and Modernizing Integration Policy
Plenary Session

Laura Batalla, Migration Policy Representative, Ashoka Hello Europe Initiative

David Cashaback, Senior Director, Settlement and Integration Policy, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

US government representative (TBC) 

Drocella Mugorewera, Board Member, Refugee Congress

  • How is integration policymaking evolving, under the combined pressures of the pandemic, economic shifts, rising social needs, new research insights, and technological innovation?
  • How have policymakers in Europe and North America responded to the need for rapid and agile policy action to COVID-19-induced disruption, at a time in which many of their usual routines, practices, and tools have been upended?
  • How can multi-level governance approaches and multi-stakeholder cooperation help governments address evolving integration challenges and promote innovation?
  • How will these experiences and lessons shape integration policy in the long run—in its objectives, practices, and overall mission?


Event Co-Sponsor