Tailor made, creative and groundbraking - Enter 2 Transform closing event webinars

The event on February 22 started with an interview of the Hub Managers Juanita Blue from Ireland, Kelly Robin from France, Ann Cassano from the Netherlands and Fatma Karacakurtoglu and Silka Steinberg from Germany. All Hub Managers introduced themselves and afterwards Kelly Robin shared her experience of designing the first Hub. In total, 59 newcomer entrepreneurs went through the French programme. The focus was on awareness rising and on what it actually means to be self-employed. Next, Silke Steinberg reported on her experiences in Germany. The approach of working in a group did not work so well and therefore an individual approach was used. In Ireland, on the other hand, the hub is located in a rural area which lacks many resources. Creative tools were necessary because many places are difficult to reach without a car. In Amsterdam, the programme was especially aimed at artists. There, a network of artists was established and profiles were created. Fatma Karacakurtoglu emphasised once again that every refugee has their own story and therefore their own needs. What they have in common is that they have to go through the complicated process of being recognised as a refugee. It takes a long time to build trust with them, especially since different institutions deal with refugees. Juanita Blue reported that many refugees are still seen as refugees even after years in Ireland.

As key takeaways, Fatma Karacakurtoglu stressed that many cities would be worse off without refugee entrepreneurship, as refugees often take over businesses that would otherwise be empty. Kelly Robin added that more female founders would be welcome. Ann Cassano said that the international collaboration of the four regions has been very helpful. She also managed to bring together all the organisations that support refugees in Amsterdam.

In the second part, Dr Alexandra David presented eleven recommendations that have emerged from years of transnational work in the project. For example, Dr David pleaded for a context-specific approach, as each region is not only different in terms of its institutions and socio-economic conditions, but also has a different migration history. Moreover, other forms of labour market integration should not be disregarded. In many cases, it can be helpful to gain initial professional experience in the new home country before starting one's own business. It would also be very helpful if refugees could be directly integrated into the local ecosystem. Connecting with other entrepreneurs helps with integration and orientation.

This was followed by a panel discussion with Prof Monder Ram from Aston University, Dr Maria Elo, Associate Professor at Southern Denmark University, Dr Daniela Bolzani, Senior Assistant Professor at the University of Bologna, Eliška Gončarová from Ashoka Hello Europe and Armando García Schmidt from the Bertelsmann Foundation. Right at the beginning, Monder Ram emphasised the important contribution of international projects and meetings: he had learned a lot on such occasions. Maria Elo said that people often ask for simple answers, but the topic is very complex and there are different opinions, which is why exchange is very useful and important. The discussion then turned to the question of whether entrepreneurship, migrant entrepreneurship and refugee entrepreneurship should be separated. Monda Ram claim that with refugees, issues of trauma and discrimination are more frequent, which is why a distinction makes sense. Daniela Bolzani spoke about ecosystems and emphasised that ecosystems need to become much more accessible. Moreover, power dynamics exist in ecosystems and ecosystems need to become more interculturally sensitive. In addition, refugees should be co-creatively involved in a similar way as in Enter to Transform. Armando Garcia Schmidt emphasised the importance of social capital. Of course, financial capital is also needed, but social capital is just as important, such as access to networks, which is often difficult for refugees. Similar to banks for financial capital, there should be institutions for social capital. He sees the chambers of commerce as being in demand here, for example. Monder Ram agrees with this to a large extent, but he said that migrant capital is generally not recognised and therefore this could still take a long time.

Daniela Bolzani can confirm that social capital is important and often lacking. She has experienced that highly educated refugees in particular do not receive help because it is assumed that they will find their way. Eliška Gončarová from Hello Europe also wants to give refugees in general and refugee entrepreneurs more visibility. However, this would also have to be implemented by institutions. Maria Elo is in favour of a targeted distribution of state funding and resources. In the final question, the panellists were asked what should come next. Maria Elo would like to see easier integration into the labour market. Armando Garcia Schmidt emphasised that refugees need to become more visible. According to Eliška Gončarová, this includes not only the labour market, but public life in general, such as the media or politics. For the UK, Monda ram would like to see more opportunities for refugees to work in view of demographic change.

The second webinar was led by the Mig.En.Cube project. This is a project that focuses on enhancing the knowledge and competences of diverse incubation professionals who deal with current or aspiring migrant entrepreneurs. During the webinar the handbook and the recommendations from the project have been presented. 

With regard to awareness, a safe public space for discussions about the importance of migrant entrepreneurship, awareness raising among migrants about entrepreneurship and information about the ecosystem to stekeholders should be provided. When it comes to investment and funding, more money and equal opportunities are important, as well as an easy accesible and effectively working banking sector. For partnerships, a coherence of apporaches to migrant entrepreneurship as well as partnerships between migrant entrepreneurship initiatives and service providers should be aimed. Lastly, barriers shoule be decreased by promoting the inclusion of migrants in entreprneurship programmes, changing existing policies which hinder migrant entrepreneurship, and review, clarify and amend regulatory regulations.

With these great events, the Enter to Transform project says goodbye. However, the hubs and mentoring will continue to exist and support refugees.

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