Asylum seekers pitch business ideas to Galway’s food and music experts
From this week's Galway City Tribune
Author: Denise McNamara
~ 4 minutes read
From this week's Galway City Tribune
From the Galway City Tribune – Two projects from asylum-seekers living in city Direct Provision centres will be pitched to a national competition to fund social enterprises.
Áras na nGael on Dominick Street was a hive of activity on Wednesday as the migrants honed their presentations in front of a panel of local mentors before facing the judges for the ‘Champion Changemakers’ competition.
Michelin-star chef JP McMahon, Galway Arts Festival co-founder and Saw Doctors manager Ollie Jennings and manager of the Town Hall Theatre Fergal McGrath were among the mentors who showed up to share their expertise as part of a Dragons’ Den for community groups.
Up for grabs is €10,000 bursary of supports to set up selected projects, which are deemed to positively impact the lives of people in local communities. The Champion Changemakers is free to enter and run under the auspices of the Community Enterprise Association Ireland, the country’s leading network of enterprise hubs, co-working locations and flexible working spaces that is funded by Enterprise Ireland.
The first project from United Women Galway is for a proposal to set up a culture café offering multi-ethnic food.
Food is a particularly hot topic for people living in Direct Provision, explains Flutura Rrebani.
“We know Irish food is nice. Unfortunately, people in Direct Provision are never offered very good quality food.”
While asylum-seekers have been allowed to cook in the last two years, some children who have spent years in the centres had never tasted food from their homelands.
“We want to offer a bit of their own food. It’s important to keep their culture alive and there is no culture without food,” insists the mother from Albania.
She was one of a number of women in Direct Provision who set up United Women Galway two years ago to alleviate boredom during the pandemic. They are made up of ten nationalities.
“Everyone was affected by Covid but mostly Direct Provision people because we had no jobs, no cars, the shops were closed and our children were small. What can we do as a group – we discovered we can cook.”
The group began to cook together for different events, such as Africa Day, Melting Pot Club and the Westside Festival. But now they hope to get funding for a city café where they can sell their wares and create a space for people to meet over food.
“We want a place to cook traditional food from our homes and give an opportunity for migrants to cook their food for their own community. The emphasis would be on integration, eating and preserving our culture.”
For the mentor session, the women cooked a variety of food from Nigeria, Zimbabwe and the Lebanon such as spicy fried chicken and beef with peanut butter.
The second project is from a group of African musicians who set up the Galway African Diaspora. They want funding to set up a company with access to a venue and equipment that can be used to stage ethnic concerts and community events. The company will mentor African artists and produce musical projects.
Wally Nkikita is a member of the band Elikiya that played at the Galway Arts Festival in 2019 as support for Grammy-award winning Tinariwen, a blues band founded in refugee camps in Libya. They’ve also been on the bill of the Electric Picnic Festival.
“We’ve found it difficult to get community spaces to play our gigs and hold our events. We want spaces to be involved in the arts. We’ve been organising Afro music nights once a month and have been organising Africa Day here. We’d like to use music as a tool for social integration.”
After finalising presentations with the help of their mentors, they will present their projects at the West of Ireland finals, when ideas will be selected under three different headings – Environment and Climate Action, Economic Inequality, Human Wellbeing.
Ideas will be shortlisted to participate in a national PitchFest in October at Innovate Communities Social Innovation Hub in Dublin
(Photo: At the music mentoring session were, from left; Arts Festival co-founder, Ollie Jennings, Mairead Duffy, Lorg Media; Jonathan Healy, Wally Nkikita; Brandon Duke and Stevo Lende).
This article first appeared in the print edition of the Galway City Tribune, September 23. You can support our journalism by subscribing to the Galway City Tribune HERE. The print edition is in shops every Friday.
More like this:
The Taoiseach is to officially open the Moycullen bypass tomorrow morning. Leo Varadkar will cut ...
Galway City Council has announced a number of measures in response to Storm Fergus. An Orange Win...
The public carparks in Salthill have been closed today (Sunday) ahead of the arrival of Storm Fer...
Met Eireann has issued a Status Orange Wind warning for Galway for Sunday (10/12). Very strong o...
A Galway East TD says while the Fodder Scheme for the Shannon Callows is very welcome, there are ...
To have a budget of €173 million to spend next year might seem, on the face of it, an embarrassme...
Industrial action by workers in the public health system was impacting negatively on the public, ...
There is frustration in Clifden at the HSE delay to lodging planning permission for a new hospita...