About First Gens

In Australia, migrants and refugees continue to face increased challenges when starting a business, participating in the community and searching for employment. 

These challenges include: 

Access to funding   |   Access to social networks   |  Access to information   |  Discrimination

ygap developed the First Gens program to address these challenges by providing funding, world-class training and access to ygap’s extensive network of mentors, investors, advisors and supporters, and a supportive community.

Since launching in 2018, the ygap First Gens Program has supported 36 migrant and refugee-led impact ventures representing founders from 20 different countries and distributed over $150,000 in funding. These ventures have gone on to multiply their revenues, raise investment, create new jobs and impact thousands of lives in Australia.

The First Gens Program

The Facts


Migrants are almost twice as likely to be entrepreneurs as the wider Australian population – with refugees being the most entrepreneurial migrant group.


One in three owners of small businesses is born overseas with migrant businesses employing more than 1.4 million Australians, making a huge contribution to the Australian economy.


Migrant-owned small business will lead to an estimated 200,000 jobs created in the next 5-10 years.

The Program


The program kicks off with a  five-day intensive entrepreneurship program designed to fast track your early-stage venture. 


Following the accelerator, we provide a tailored support package valued at over $50,000 which includes access to ygap extensive network of technical and entrepreneurial mentors, pitching opportunities, access to pro-bono professional service providers (legal, accounting, finance, etc) and small grants to test our new ideas for your venture.


The most promising, viable ventures from each cohort will move into the growth phase where they will have access to an increased support package with up to $50,000 available in funding.

Application process

Online applications open

Applications close
31 July


Selections Announced

Accept offer

Program begins

Who We Are looking For

  • Migrant or Refugee-Led: The venture must be migrant or refugee-led or must have at least one migrant or refugee co-founder who will participate in the program.
  • Early Stage: Ventures that have launched and/or have run a pilot and shown proof of concept. We typically look for ventures that have less than 100 customers and have been operating for 1-3 years.
  • Supports Those Living in Disadvantage/Impact-Focused: The venture must be improving the lives of people who are experiencing disadvantage in Australia and /or addressing a social issue.
  • Innovative: The venture must have a clearly defined unique selling proposition and be doing something different from others who might be doing similar
  • You have a deep understanding of the issue: You and your team should know the ecosystem deeply, whether through lived experience or from working in the sector, and be committed to addressing the issue in the long term. 
  • You want to connect and grow: You are eager to learn from, share and connect with an amazing, supportive community.

First Gens Testimonials

“The ygap Accelerator helped me self-discover and allowed me to rewind to gain a deeper understanding of why I’m doing what I’m doing now. This was incredibly crucial to help accelerate my focus and goals. For any entrepreneurs, this is the accelerator you need to gain 10x focus and get your momentum back.”
Jane KouBring Me Home

“Participating in the accelerator allowed me a chance to delve deeper into my ‘why’ as well as the problem I am solving. The relationships with like-minded migrants and support from the ygap facilitators has simply been invaluable. Since starting on this journey with ygap  I have expanded my ideas and way of thinking”.

Grace Mugabe, Financially Empowered 

“ygap and its terrific staff and mentors worked very hard to create an environment of trust for the cohort. We were lucky to be immersed in a 5-day bootcamp which brought together a structured framework and specific expertise to help bridge our weakest areas. ygap got all of us social impact entrepreneurs through the complex challenge of answering the question “what is it you truly do again?”

Amit Chawathe, Battlerz

Our Impact

As of December 2019 ygap First Gens has...





First Gens and the Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

The First Gens program aligns and measures the impact of the ventures we support with the Global Sustainable Development Goals. Each venture directly contributes to at least one SDG and their impact is tracked against a specific SDG target. The 36 First Gens ventures are addressing 10 of the Global Sustainable Development Goals.

COVID-19 and our Response

Although the pandemic has instigated many shifts around the world, changing both the way we work and the way our impact entrepreneurs do business, ygap continues to back local impact ventures to ensure they survive this crisis and the subsequent downturn. As part of this response, we have developed a Resiliency Tool Kit to help ventures prepare and ensure that their businesses survive in the face of unexpected shocks, such as a pandemic. We have also created a directory of Resiliency in Actionof our ygap Australia and First Gens ventures showcasing how they are adapting and responding to the current situation and inspiring resiliency in action.



Have a question? Check out our FAQs first to see if we’ve answered it. If not, get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to answer any question you have.

ygap defines a migrant is any person who is not born in Australia, while a refugee is a displaced person who has been forced to cross national boundaries and who cannot return home safely.

The program is completely free, including room and board while participating in the five day live-in accelerator program. Your only expenses will be getting to and from the venues.

The Accelerator and Demo Day will both be held in Melbourne, and attendance is mandatory. The Support phase will also be delivered in Melbourne, although in some cases this can be delivered remotely.

English is the language that the First Gens program is delivered in. We recommend an intermediate level of English proficiency.

The ventures we support must have a clear mandate or mission to uplift those living in disadvantage in some way. Typically, ygap supports ventures that increase access to education, employment, housing or healthcare.

Unfortunately, we can only accommodate one founder per venture for the Accelerator week. However, the support phase is open for all founders to participate in.

No, it is not as a requirement of the program.

Unfortunately, no. We are looking for ventures (they can be non-profit, social enterprise or for-profit) with a clear social impact that is core to your business model, not just an accidental by-product. We generally want to see evidence of this in the way you have structured your venture or your communications (website/social media etc.). It must be evident there is a clear value and priority placed on the social impact the venture generates. (An example could be: deliberate employment of marginalised/disadvantaged refugees or migrants)

More questions? Get in touch with Adelide Mutinda, ygap’s Australian Program Manager: adelide.mutinda@ygap.org.

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