Supporting Entrepreneurship: SNHU GEM and the Innovation Creation Studio Help Students Turn Ideas into Business Opportunities

The Innovation Creation Studio offers mentorship and funding for refugee students with entrepreneurial aspirations.

Through entrepreneurship, refugees across the globe have been able to gain economic independence and become change agents in their communities. Southern New Hampshire University’s Global Education Movement (SNHU GEM) is committed to supporting students with the real-world skills and credentials they need to build sustainable careers.

SNHU GEM has partnered with Change The Tune to create the Innovation Creation Studio (ICS), to equip refugee learners with holistic, 21st-century social entrepreneurship training they can use to create employment opportunities for themselves and their communities. Charli Kemp, Innovation Creation Studio Program Designer and Doctoral Resident at SNHU, explains that “the long-term vision of the ICS program is to create a community of leaders that can build an infrastructure that supports the elevation and transformation of refugee communities.”

Charli Kemp, ICS Program Director, leads a coaching session to help SNHU GEM students develop their entrepreneurial skills.

Recently, 35 SNHU GEM students representing all the countries where we work – Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Rwanda, and Lebanon – participated in the ICS Business Pitch Competition. They pitched their business plans to a panel of judges, and the winning ideas were awarded seed money – from $150 for an honorable mention to $1,000 for first place – to help grow their ideas into sustainable businesses.

The students’ business ideas spanned a diverse range of fields, including agriculture, beauty and fashion, digital design, education, and manufacturing. 

Stella Matutina won first place and $1,000 to fund her idea for the GIRL RISE beauty salon, which will offer beauty services and career training in nail painting, manicures and pedicures, massage and reflexology.

Huda Hammoud, won third place in the pitch competition for her beekeeping business based in a Syrian refugee camp in Arsal, Lebanon. She learned beekeeping skills from her father, and plans to use the $250 in seed money she was awarded to sell honey and honey byproducts to local businesses.

SNHU GEM students receive one-on-one mentorship through the Innovation Creation Studio.

Charli believes the journey for these entrepreneurs is just beginning. “Entrepreneurship is iterative,” she explained to the pitch competition participants. The students who do not win seed money have still gained important experience in developing and pitching their business ideas, as well as the technological and leadership skills needed to put their plans into action. “You can do anything you put your mind to.” 

Congratulations to all the participants of the ICS pitch competition! We are proud of your ingenuity and determination, and look forward to seeing where your business ideas take you in the future. See the full list of winners below.


Incubator (for learners with little or no business experience)

Honorable Mention: Smart Space Farms (Erison Tumusime)

3rd place: Zina (Huda Hammoud)

2nd place: Good Hope Academy (Muhumure Pacific)

1st place: GIRL RISE (Stella Matutina)


Accelerator (for learners with significant business experience)

Honorable Mentions: Boss Man Boutique (Adolphe Niwemfura), Chrisfa Poultry Farm (Christophe Bigirimana)

2nd place: Vuvu Organic Beauty (Patricia Vuvu)

1st place: Shamubia Company (Junior B. Mutombo)