Refugee Livelihood Lab

What is the Refugee Livelihood Lab?

The Refugee Livelihood Lab is a three year collaborative innovation process which brings leaders in diverse positions in the refugee integration system together to create new initiatives and ventures that answer the question, “How might refugee communities move from survival to meaningful livelihoods?”

We support building on what’s working, then going beyond the current mindset that often produces heart-breaking results. We will be bold in breaking boundaries in our power relations, and expand the limits on what refugee social and economic well-being could look like. We do this by supporting collaborative, action-oriented relationships between affected communities and those invested in refugee livelihoods to put practical, visionary new initiatives on the ground.

About the Refugee Livelihood Lab

People who dare to dream another world is possible, and who courageously come together to create that world, have existed in every culture, region and time in human history.

Innovation is natural to us all. But in the face of violence, trauma, complexity and entrenched, systemic patterns that produce inequity – we need to be intentional about how we practice innovation, why, and who we support to be at the heart of innovation practice.

Centering the voices and leadership of communities most impacted by the issues of forced migration and displacement in itself begins to create a new pattern, and a new world of possibilities for change.

In the Refugee Livelihood Lab, we believe the most compelling and sustainable innovations come from those at the margins of our communities. We believe in the incredible power, creativity and commitment of refugee communities to create positive change. We know this power is sourced from many places, including:

  1. Create new social and economic opportunities by/ for refugee communities
  2. Support capacity for service delivery innovation in the refugee integration sector
  3. Generate replicable insights for broader systems change that address key barriers to refugee communities social/economic integration
  4. Be changed – transform/ decolonize our own and wider systems through the learning process of engaging with communities

Defining Our Terms

Refugee: The lab uses the UNHCR definition of refugee which is someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war, or violence. We also recognize the complex humanity of people outside their country of origin  who are seeking to build a meaningful life regardless of their status.

Livelihood:The means by which people get the necessities for life. This includes economic survival needs and the deeper socio-cultural, ecological and political necessities for the human spirit to thrive.

Lab: A collaborative space for focused learning, discovery and action, focused on systemic change.

The Programs

Beyond Borders

Beyond Borders is the central program of RADIUS’ Refugee Livelihood Lab. It provides a platform for the leadership of people who have lived experience as refugees and other players in the system including employers, settlement workers and managers, artists, funders and entrepreneurs to go beyond established approaches… collaboratively building new initiatives and social businesses that make a difference to the lives of refugee communities in Surrey. 

It is an applied learning experience of 11 days over 5 months for new and experienced leaders, refugee entrepreneurs, creators and innovators who are passionate about building practical solutions. Participants will radically reimagine what is possible to address the challenges facing refugee communities and design new initiatives that help these communities build lives of meaning in Surrey.

Trampoline: Ideas Into Action!

Trampoline: Ideas into Action! is a free 12-week program for people who have an idea for a social business or non-profit that will address problems faced by refugee and newcomer communities in Surrey. People with lived experience of forced migration and displacement and/or with deep networks in these communities are welcome to apply.

This program emphasizes the importance of learning from the people engaging with your venture. Participants will conduct weekly interviews to test their assumptions, shape their product or service offering based on feedback. We will work on communications best practices to reach the population you serve, determine the most appropriate finance methods, and assess the market to see if there is demand for your offering. We will also examine the project through a “migrant justice” lens – asking about models that support democratic ownership, profit-sharing, and freedom from exploitation.


Meet the RADIUS team behind Refugee Livelihood Lab

The Refugee Livelihood Lab is developed in ongoing consultation with community partners, entrepreneurs and innovators with lived experience as refugees, service-providers, policy-makers and advocates. The Lab responds to the Surrey LIP’s 2017 “Our New Home” Refugee Integration Strategy priorities around economic and social inclusion.


Camille Dumond

Program Manager

Nada Elmasry

Program Strategist

Kiri Bird

Associate Director, RADIUS

Khayla Almonte – Davila

Program Support


For more information, please contact Camille Dumond, Program Manager,

Recent blog posts

Sponsors & Partners

Making the Refugee Livelihood Lab possible