Many institutions, organisations and policy makers in Europe consider it important to develop mechanisms to assist newcomers, refugees and asylum seekers2 in setting up and developing their own businesses. The final aim of these mechanisms is inclusion: to enable newcomers to start their own business and generate their own income. As such, they can become full, active members of society.
The research group Financial Inclusion and New Entrepreneurship (FINE) of The Hague University of Applied Sciences is member of a consortium of European Union (EU) based organisations that seeks to document and systematize and eventually replicate good practices in this area. The project, known as the European Migrant Entrepreneurship Network (EMEN) has indeed a challenging objective: The aim is to develop, share and promote support schemes not only for individual migrant entrepreneurs but also for social and inclusive enterprises benefitting migrants. Ultimately the knowledge gained will be of use for those developing and promoting support schemes for migrant entrepreneurs, leading to a more inclusive society.
Part of our activities is to assist the foundation MigrantInc, in The Hague, in developing a modular system to assist newcomers in setting up their businesses. We study their methods and students accompany prospective entrepreneurs in the process of developing their viable business plans and setting up their enterprises. MigrantInc is ambitious: by offering an integrated approach in support of migrant entrepreneurs assisting the latter to become independently operating self-employed persons who are included in the local economy/ society.
Why are we participating in such projects? Do we believe that migrant entrepreneurs are different from other entrepreneurs? Do we think that they need to be assisted in a different way with other support methods? Do they need other business development services? Other types of financing?