(André) Rafael dos Santos
(André) Rafael dos Santos is a Brazilian-British multi-award winning entrepreneur.
Rafael was born in Santa Catarina, a state in the south of Brazil in 1981. The son of a fisherman and a housewife his humble beginnings were the push for his parents to move to Santos (a city in Sao Paulo state) so Rafael and his two sisters could receive better education.
At the age of 21 Rafael moved to London, after living 2 years in Sao Paulo, one of the world’s largest cities. He left his job as a support analyst at Microsoft, to learn English in London. Between 2001-3 Rafael worked as a kitchen porter, cleaner, glass collector and waiter to be able to pay his expenses. In 2003 an opportunity came along and he started managing houses. Between 2005-14 he ran his own business – an agency that managed and let rooms in flatshares. For 11 years Rafael rented accommodation to more than 2000 migrants (young professionals and students) in London. He grew the portfolio under his management from 1 to 50 houses, 15 members of staff and reached a turnover of £1.2m. In 2013 Rafael wrote a book – ‘Moving Abroad, One Step At A Time’ – published in English, Portuguese and Chinese and in Singapore and Malaysia.
In 2015 Rafael decided to support migrant entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses. The first pilot project was the Migrant Business Accelerator – a 16-week programme where 10 migrants were selected to attend workshops in marketing, finance and operations and 25 mentors are donating their time to help the participants to launch their businesses. The programme evolved to become a coworking space named mi-HUB.
mi-HUB.com is London’s first coworking space to help migrant entrepreneurs to have an office space as well as develop strategies to raise finance for their businesses. Rafael is a guest lecturer at Regent’s University in London where he teaches Entrepreneurship, he has won 6 business awards and has been the keynote speaker in several events around the world, including the World Entrepreneurship Forum in China in October 2015.
Most recently Rafael was featured on the Sunday Times as the ‘Top 100 Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs in the UK’, an award organised by Maserati and the Centre for Entrepreneurs.