Photo credit: Marie Claire

I have been an immigrant since 1991, I have lived as an immigrant in the US and Iceland. Now I am a citizen of Iceland. I know that all these labels do not really matter but immigrants have been getting a pounding in the global stage. There is a lot of protectionism, I believe that is the wrong idea. History has shown that vibrant places that became the epicenters of innovation, progress and wealth were always those that embraced new ideas and people from diverse backgrounds. We also know that to build a better future you need diversity of ideas, people and context. Iceland is a small country but has all the ingredients to build a great life and great companies. It is not just the right thing but it is also true. I have been an investor now for over a decade and my wife and I have been contemplating setting up a private fund, funded by us to invest in Immigrants who want to start a business in Iceland. I have seen the challenges of being an immigrant from different angles and I think this is a good thesis. I have verified and validated this thesis for over a decade now and as they say I have put my money where my mouth is. All you have to do is look at the great companies started by immigrants all over the world not just in Iceland.

According to Inc. magazine more than half of America’s Billion Dollar Startups have immigrant founders. Again, the reason my wife and I are doing this with our personal funds is to empower immigrants coming to Iceland. We think that the current ecosystem in Iceland is starting to see an influx of incredibly talented immigrants but they don’t have the local network or the foundation capital or insight to start building their company from Iceland. We founded Startup Iceland to build a vibrant startup ecosystem in Iceland and to help founders irrespective of where they are from, however we see that the access to capital and network in Iceland is still behind walled gardens and we want to break that. We have been fortunate to have been given the opportunity to do this and I am really excited to get started on this idea. Again a lot of the details have to be flushed out but I would like to put a stake in the ground and say that I am doing this. If you are an immigrant founder looking to build a company in Iceland reach out to me and we will find time to talk.

If you need more inspiration hear the stories of these women immigrant founders read the Immigrant Issue by Marie Claire.

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