Lincoln non-profit creating opportunities for refugees

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 9:12 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Every week, 1 Million Cups has given Lincoln entrepreneurs the opportunity to present their start-ups to fellow entrepreneurs in the community.

This week was a start-up called ECHO Collective, a non-profit helping refugees in the Capital City. According to their mission, their work provides refugee and immigrant women everything they need to accomplish their dreams after moving to the United States.

The flagship program of the group is called Refinery, a four month course which helps refugee women launch businesses and network with other professionals. Since being launched in 2020, eight women have completed the program and another four will start this month.

“The goal of ECHO Collective is to empower refugee and immigrant women,” said Kelly Ross, Founder of ECHO Collective. “We do that through our business education, connections and providing a nurturing environment where they feel safe. Everyone has dreams to have the chance to be anything they could be.”

Ross said immigrants and refugees often aren’t given entrepreneurship resources to be successful, which is where ECHO Collective will come in.

One example of ECHO Collective’s impact has been a food truck called The Corner Kitchen, owned by a mother and son who’ve started working with the non-profit to find retail space to expand their business.

According to Ross, ECHO Collective has already seen the impacts of women who complete the Refinery program.

“What we want is for them to be empowered, because when they’re empowered they don’t just hold that within themselves, they pass that on to their kids, they pass it on to their spouse, to their neighbors,” Ross said. “As a whole it lifts up the community and if there’s anyone who can lift up the community it’s a refugee or immigrant.”

Since ECHO Collective is so new, most of it is referral based. For ways to get involved, you can check out their website and social media.

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