EXpress – Exchange of Practices for Refugees and migrants’ Self-entrepreneurship

Express – Exchange of Practices for Refugees and migrants’ Self-entrepreneurship is an Erasmus+ project (Young and Active) that started in September 2019 and has been prolonged to 31 October 2021.

Express project has as general objective to empower young migrants and refugees by creating and/or strengthening – where existing – supporting services for the development of self-enterprises.

Read our LTTA report

EXPRESS partners and other organisations from their cities/regions met on 8 and 9 September 2021 for a webinar-LTTA. The seminar had the objective to give project partners and their local networks the opportunity to deepen learning and exchange on key elements for a successful support service dedicated to migrants/refugees willing to become entrepreneurs.

In this framework participants had the occasion to:

  • learn and discuss more in depth about local/national and European practices;
  • take a specific insight into practices from Belgium;
  • receive inputs from EU-level experts;
  • encounter EU policy-makers to better situate their own actions at local level in a European policy perspective;
  • jointly work on and define a model facilitating the creation and/or strengthening of local
  • networks of actors supporting the integration of migrants/refugees through (self-) entrepreneurship.

Project objectives

  • Allow partners’ organizations to develop and reinforce networks, increase their capacity to operate at transnational level, share and confront ideas, practices and methods and structuring an EXPRESS network between different type of organizations that are dealing or willing to approach work integration of young migrants/refugees through self-entrepreneurship.
  • Collect all practices shared among partners and covering the entire value chain for self- entrepreneurship schemes across Europe, that can be divided as follows: a. competence assessment of young migrants/refugees; b. training on self-entrepreneurship; c. mentoring scheme; d. informative campaign; e. networking activities; f. support to access financing/social financing.
  • Spreading knowledge, sharing project results to raise awareness and start-up a dedicated network (community of practices).


Coompanion Gothenburg

Demetra Formazione

AKEP – Academy of Entrepreneurship

Pfefferwerk Foundation

REVES – European Network of Cities & Regions for the Social Economy

CBE Sud Luberon

Sol.Co. Camunia – Solidarieta’ e Cooperazione

Steps of the value chain

Assessing competences is a crucial moment to understand which are professional, technical and soft skills of the target group. Competences assessment is addressed to evaluate abilities, knowledge and competences that a person has acquired along his/her lifespan. The evaluation process (through written and oral exam, with an interview or a practical test) has to generate a list of formal, informal and non-formal competences that the person possess. Generally formal and informal competences can be connected to a specific qualification of EQF, concerning non-formal competences is more difficult to define a benchmark.

Entrepreneurship training is a structured program that aims to equip participants with the necessary skillset and mindset for identifying and launching new business ventures. Entrepreneurship training can help the beneficiaries to acquire valuable skills and experience, making them more employable. Although not everyone who receives entrepreneurship training goes on to start a business, the wider benefits of participating have been recognised. Entrepreneurship education and training can generate more positive self-perceptions and increase self-confidence, especially among disadvantaged groups. The effectiveness of entrepreneurship training can be increased by tailoring content and methods to the particular skills needs of the target groups (OECD Guidance note: Building entrepreneurship skills and capacities for youth entrepreneurs.

Mentorship is a relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. It is a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn. Mentoring relationships within organisations can also reflect an element of formal supervision. Three specific forms of supervisory mentoring relationship are acknowledged in the literature: the traditional relationship with the mentor multiple levels away from the mentee; peer mentoring with the mentor occupying a similar level to the mentee; and step-ahead mentoring with the mentor one level ahead of the mentee. On the other hand, informal, non-supervisory mentoring relationships are often based on a personal relationship or commitment between the mentor and the mentee.

Informative campaigns can be considered as all the communication and information tools/strategies used to raise awareness on the target group concerning the possibility to become self-entrepreneur. They can foresee for example the implementation of dedicated information desks or communication campaigns organised by trade union/association.

Migrant entrepreneurs often have rather limited and heterogenous personal and business networks. On the one hand, they have a personal network which often consists of other migrants mainly; on the other hand, they have a limited number of business contacts, which are often other migrants, too. Consequently, they lack the ‘right’ contacts to obtain the information they need and the business contacts they have often direct them towards low-profitable and/or ethnic markets. Therefore, entrepreneurs need support that goes beyond business and administrative support. Service providers should implement initiatives to support migrant entrepreneurs establishing business relationships with both natives and migrants and reaching business associations and institutional actors (examples: Organisation of networking events, creation of business clubs, provision of networking spaces, etc.)

Beside knowledge and competences, entrepreneurs often lack finances to start the business or expand it. In the start-up phase, even if migrant entrepreneurs have a very good business idea and the skills to put it in practice, the initial investment is often not affordable for them. Investing at the beginning is fundamental to enter in more profitable markets with possibilities of growth. However, migrant entrepreneurs tend to enter in lower-profitable markets due to their lack of finances. Therefore, financial support should be provided, too. In this category can be considered: direct financial support through loans and grants, support in the process of applying for funding, provision of facilities where starting the business for free or at a low cost.