Platform for refugee-sponsored experiences wins top spot in social enterprise competition
Bridge, a booking platform for refugee-sponsored meals and other experiences, won the top prize at this year's Great Social Enterprise Pitch in Lancaster.
Bridge is owned by Mustafa Nuur, a Lancaster resident who came to the U.S. from Somalia in 2014. Nuur plans to build on his experiences to help other refugees monetize skills unique to their native countries by helping them sell services like meals, cooking lessons and music instruction.
"I have often wondered: What if all refugees didn't have to get new training to make money?" Nuur wrote on Bridge's Indiegogo page. "What if my mother's cooking skills or my neighbor's drumming class were paths to getting ahead and to connecting with their new local community?"
Bridge will offer a digital platform through which customers can book these experiences.
Continue reading below the video.
The company won $7,500, plus more than $25,000 in products and services, Friday at the conclusion of this year's Great Social Enterprise Pitch. The annual event is held by the Lancaster County Community Foundation and Assets. It offers people with community-minded business ideas a chance to raise money for their endeavors while learning about entrepreneurship.
The competition culminates in a live pitch in front of an audience and panel of judges. That happened Friday at the Ware Center in Lancaster.
Nuur plans to put the money earned through the pitch and related crowdfunding efforts toward startup expenses like developing Bridge's online interface and training refugee host families, according to his Indiegogo page. He hopes to eventually have the bulk of the company's proceeds go back to the participating refugees.
The following businesses also received recognition during Friday's live pitch:
- Second place: Meraki Mocha, a farm-to-table cafe employing people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
- Third place: Lancaster Fellow Foodies, a healthy meal-delivery service with a focus on hiring people with barriers to employment.
- Fourth place: Language Beyond Borders, a provider of trained language interpreters.
- Fifth place: Green Matters Natural Dye Co., an environmentally conscious dye company.