Ramzi Rafih, founder of No Label Ventures, said: “Immigrants are entrepreneurs and they create jobs.”
There is no shortage of statistical evidence that immigrant entrepreneurs, for whatever reason, tend to outperform when it comes to building businesses. To give just one high-level example, Open Political Economy Network (OPEN) has found that in 2021, 8 of the 23 UK unicorns were co-founded by minority entrepreneurs. These include Deliveroo, Monzo and Darktrace.
In other words, the UK innovation ecosystem would have been poorer and less populated without the presence of founders and their children from abroad. It applies. Rafih sees investment opportunities.
Across Europe, Rafih plans to invest early in businesses that are statistically more likely to provide returns than average. To support these companies, No Label Ventures aims to provide not only capital but also practical support. I spoke to him last week about the thinking behind the fund launch.
Rafih himself is a product of his immigrant experience. “I was the son of an immigrant family from Lebanon,” he says. “We went to Saudi Arabia. When we got back, I went to study in France.”
After that, he made a career in finance and investment. His resume includes his experience at JP Morgan, a financial services firm, his KKR, an investment firm, and his Silver Lake, a technology investor. Additionally, he has his own angel investments as well.
Rafih, backed by former KKR colleague George Roberts, founded No Label Ventures to close half of a $15 million fund and issue checks for $100,000 to $250,000 in seed and pre-seed stages I am preparing. To be eligible for funding, an early-stage venture must have at least one immigrant first- or second-generation founder.
There are many immigration trips. Some involve a single cross-border short hop from one country to the next. Some involve intercontinental movement. So what does No Label Ventures mean when it talks about immigrant founders?
“We are focused on immigrants from outside the European Union,” says Rafih. “The bigger the journey, the bigger the formative experience.”
It is that ‘formative experience’ that No Label Ventures believes is essential to the success of immigrant entrepreneurs. Career-driven journeys within the European Union, for example between Estonia and France or Germany, involve some turbulence, but the geographical and cultural distances are relatively short. definitely requires more commitment to build a new life for yourself. From there, as Rafih sees it, comes the entrepreneurial spirit, the will to succeed.
It may not be that simple. In order to establish themselves within the UK or the European Union, immigrants have many hurdles to jump in terms of obtaining a visa and ultimately securing the right to stay indefinitely. In the UK, the government aims to encourage tech and entrepreneurial talent to come to the UK, but the visa system is a barrier for some.
For example, the UK’s Global Talent Visa is designed to provide a relatively quick route for highly skilled talent to enter the country, but is sector-specific with a particular focus on technology. “The Global Talent Visa is great, but it’s not all-inclusive,” he says Rafih.
That is why No Label Ventures offers visa application support. “He’s one of the best lawyers working for us,” he says.The fund also hires and essentially sponsors entrepreneurs to enable them to come to the UK
Investing entrepreneurs are also provided with a portion of the profits generated by the fund. So every founder becomes a partner. Ramzi cites his fund of equity ventures. relatives As an example of how this is currently working in practice. As it stands, No Label Ventures is looking for investment opportunities, during which time her Rafih transferred her angel investment portfolio to the fund.
So what are the companies in the No Label Ventures Portfolio like? I personally prefer care companies.
Food is also a theme. Rajih cites his Oja, an online supermarket that sells “cultural food,” and Farmland, a supplier of globally sourced food to supermarkets, as examples of businesses in the portfolio.
But given the abundance of funding currently available, is there a need for a VC fund focused on the immigration business?
Well, according to 2021 OECD survey On migration to Europe – titled Missing Migrants – it may well be true. The government also needs to pay more attention to attracting potential entrepreneurs by improving outreach and simplifying administrative requirements for those using startup visas.”
While the story of immigration is not always positive, it makes perfect sense for governments to provide support to migrant entrepreneurs, as highlighted by the OECD. NO Label Ventures sets out to show that concentrated investors can also play an important role.