The Ice Academy
In 2017, Ben and Jerry teamed up with The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network (TERN) to create the Ice Academy programme to support people who have refugee status get back into business and remove barriers they face entering the job market.
The goal is to provide people with the opportunities and resources needed to start a business, through entrepreneurship training, mentoring and part-time employment. Starting with 8 participants, the programme is now entering its third year and is preparing to scale-up to support 90 people across Europe in 2019.
The innovative model works with people to develop their business ideas - addressing some of the practicalities needed to start a business. This includes access to finance, networks and the tools needed to put their creative ideas into action. Ice Academy participants already have ingenuity, ideas and the experiences from their home countries, and the Ice Academy’s goal is to provide the tools, opportunities and resources to help them succeed here and across Europe.
Everyone at some point needs to be given a chance, a leg up, a kickstart, and businesses like Ben and Jerry have an incredible opportunity to help provide that. Whilst this is only one small step, they hope this programme might be the foundation that people need in going on to fulfil their potential and help put their futures back in their own hands.
"The combined experience of the employment and business components was beautiful. It helped me be more committed, find my rhythm and be more confident. Your mind switches back into the productive mode because you get to do it frequently. First, I doubted if I could commit but then when I did it really made a difference. The whole programme made me eager, flipped the switch. Even completing Ice Academy, itself was a great achievement. It opened a mindset that was a bit dormant. You feel more empowered because now you have some real progress, you are empowered by information and education and you are putting it in practice." Chineze, Ice Academy Graduate 2018
Ben and Jerry have launched a new ice cream flavour, Spice & All Things N’ice, as a way to try to further support entrepreneurial people who arrived here as refugees who have graduated from the Ice Academy programme. Proceeds contribute to a small cooperative grant fund owned and managed by the graduates themselves, meaning they decide themselves how to use micro-grants for their businesses, working together to take back control of their futures.
Watch this 2 minute video:
Read more here.
Could a business you are involved in work with a partner to deliver a programme like this for disadvantaged people? Why not start conversations, have discussions and then trial the model as a pilot. Collaborate together even if it’s on something small.
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Geoff Knott, 10/04/2019