Communication, exchanges of best practices and strategic development: a survey analyses the professionalisation needs of migrant entrepreneurs’ associations

The recent years have seen a growing interest in migrant entrepreneurship support in Europe, both from the point of view of research and practice. The main focus of this attention has so far been on single supporting mechanisms or on the specific needs of entrepreneurs. On the other hand, what has so far not been analysed enough is the state of the art of the contribution of migrant entrepreneurs’ associations in creating a successful ecosystem for migrant entrepreneurship. And yet, their role is fundamental, as they can act as the main source of support for entrepreneurs with a migrant background.

In order to address this lack, UNITEE – the New European Business Confederation has conducted a survey to understand the level and needs of professionalisation of migrant entrepreneurs’ associations based in Europe. The survey was conducted as part of the EMEN project (European Migrant Entrepreneurship Network: crossing borders for financial and business development services). It saw the participation of 34 among migrant entrepreneurs’ associations and support organisations, located all around Europe in 7 countries and 12 different cities, and with a broad range of expertise.

The outcome of the survey will be used in the preparation of training that will address the deficiencies identified in the survey. For this reason, the survey has been designed to gather as much actionable insight as possible.

The results of the survey show a complex and differentiated environment of migrant entrepreneurs’ associations in term of size, education and membership. The first conclusion is that all trainings targeted at respondent organisations should be customisable, taking into account the difference of sizes and characteristics that migrant entrepreneurs’ associations experience. Secondly, the most pressing difficulties identified were obtaining financing, growing the membership, and improving communications and outreach. A third point that emerged from the survey is the perceived importance of lobbying and engaging with the public authorities, even if many organisations are not able to act in that regard yet. Furthermore, there is the possibility to broaden the menu of services provided by the members, through a process of long-term strategic development. Finally, the exchange of good practices across borders as necessary to foster the development and impact of migrant entrepreneurs’ associations.

Such insights will be the starting point of a process that, through the organisation of training, will lead to the development of migrant entrepreneurs’ associations and, as a consequence, further develop the general European ecosystem of migrant entrepreneurship support to make it more apt at meeting today’s challenges.

The survey is part of the EMEN project (European Migrant Entrepreneurship Network: crossing borders for financial and business development services), one of the projects selected for support under the 2016 COSME call on migrant entrepreneurship support mechanisms. The EMEN project aims to bring together relevant players at European, national and regional levels to form transnational networks that will work together and exchange knowledge and best practices, with the aim of developing, sharing and promoting support schemes not only for individual migrant entrepreneurs but also for social and inclusive enterprises benefitting migrant entrepreneurs.

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