Raising over £150,000 with a Softr-built platform to support refugee entrepreneurs

How Skylight Ventures created an applicant tracking portal to offer a quick and accessible funding process for refugee entrepreneurs.

skylight ventures

Skylight Ventures is a community-led non-profit fund that offers micro-credit to refugees who want to start a business in the UK. It was developed by TERN (The Entrepreneurial Refugee Network), a social enterprise that enables refugees to thrive through the power of their own ideas.

The main goal of Skylight is to address economic discrimination, as refugee entrepreneurs struggle to access mainstream funding. This micro-credit allows entrepreneurs to prototype their businesses, buy their first equipment or stock, and make their first sales. Therefore, one of the key things is offering a funding process that is quick and accessible and can be easily used by all applicants.

Isobelle Ford
Head of Community Ventures, TERN

In 2022, Skylight rebuilt their entire application process and used Softr and Airtable to create a one-stop applicant tracking portal, where applicants could easily submit and manage their applications, track repayments, and get access to customer support.

Isobelle Ford is the Head of Community Ventures at TERN and one of the founders of Skylight, and she kindly agreed to share some details on how she and her team built the applicant tracking system and why they chose Softr as their primary solution.

application details

Selecting Softr

Before switching to Softr, Skylight used a ready-made platform for student applications, which didn’t meet some of their key needs (e.g. it didn’t provide a way to track and manage funding repayment) and didn’t allow for any customization. As a result, most of the applicants found it confusing and difficult to use. When the Skylight team started looking for new solutions, they came up with some additional needs they were looking to address such as TypeForm and VideoAsk integrations and an ability to build a scoring process that allows multiple judges to assign scores to applications.

“Our whole application process needs to be accessible remotely for both applicants and judges, and Softr combined with AirTable had the flexibility to create a made-to-measure system that makes this possible. We weren’t able to find any existing software solution that did this!”

Isobelle Ford, Head of Community Ventures, TERN

The applicant tracking system allows the application management process to happen in a single place, enabling judges and applicants to log in and view/modify info relevant to them. Submitted applications are evaluated by judges and move through different stages of the funnel before being approved.

"The biggest benefit we’ve found with Softr is how customizable and flexible it is. We’ve been able to create a platform that is adapted to our fairly complicated needs."

Isobelle Ford, Head of Community Ventures, TERN

When starting out, Skylight had some pretty complex requirements for their platform, so they chose to hire a Softr expert to help them customize it to their needs. Mariam, our founder, also surprised them with an intro call, which made it even easier to kickstart the whole process.

"It’s amazing to be able to search for and reach relevant Softr experts on the site, and many of them have affordable or flexible rates, which is invaluable to us as a non-profit."

Isobelle Ford, Head of Community Ventures, TERN


Results and next steps

After building the platform using Airtable and Softr, Skylight moved on from the pilot stage and launched the initiative, starting to pitch funds. They’ve now raised over £150,000, which will enable them to reach 1,000 refugee entrepreneurs and distribute up to £600,000 in micro-credit by the end of 2025.

The whole funding and repayment process is automated, and the bespoke platform allows them to scale it as much as needed, without causing any issues. The Skylight team plans to continue improving the portal, adding more community features such as the ability to connect with other applicants to share advice and experience.

Isobelle and the team also plan to add a knowledge base with tools and resources on financial literacy, so that applicants can find support at every stage of their funding journey.

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