One year of the European Migrant Entrepreneurship Network (EMEN): supporting a more favourable ecosystem for migrant entrepreneurs.

Officially active since October 2017, EMEN was launched on 7 December 2017 during a successful public event organised by AEIDL in Brussels that saw the participation ofmore than 50 people – from EU institutions and networks, NGOs, chambers of commerce, municipalities and other EU-funded projects for migrant entrepreneurs. We heard about the policy background from Simone Baldissarri of EC DG Growth, and Artur Benedyktowicz of the EASME agency, responsible of the COSME programme, as well as the presentation of the communities of practice and their objectives from the three leaders

Its main aim was then presented to the large audience:  to develop, share and promote support schemes not only for individual migrant entrepreneurs but also for social and inclusive enterprises benefitting migrants.

To achieve such ambitious objective, the first steps performed were the official setting up of the three Communities of Practice (CoPs) of the project: (1) Coaching and mentoring (led by Social Impact gGmbH, Berlin); (2) Access to Finance (led by THUAS-FINE, The Hague); (3) Professionalisation of migrant entrepreneurs’ associations and diversity management in chambers of commerce (led by UNITEE, Brussels).

During this first year of project implementation, the efforts of the 3 CoP Leaders have been primarily addressed to identifying potential members, analysing their needs and mapping existing support schemes.

Social Impact, leader of CoP1, started to form the CoP and reflected this information in D2.1 Listing key actors; and drafted D2.2 Mapping of coaching and mentoring services for migrant entrepreneurs (EU level and beyond).

THUAS-FINE, leader of CoP2 elaborated D2.7 Working note on issues in finance for migrants wishing to set up micro-businesses of become self-employed; started to new CoP members – Access to finance for Migrant entrepreneurs and elaborated its Annual Strategic Plan.

UNITEE, leader of CoP 3 submitted D2.16 List of CoP members, D2.17 Survey report on professionalisation needs of migrant entrepreneurs’ associations, publishing an article about it in the EMEN website, D2.18 Survey report on mainstream business associations, and prepared D2.19 Pilot training on the professionalisation of migrant entrepreneurs associations and D2.20 Pilot Training Materials on professional skills, ‘living documents’ which will be further improved once the training sessions start to be implemented in the second year.

The first year saw also the launching of the Dissemination and Networking activities. Coordinated by DIESIS, these two pillars of the project aim at generating awareness amongst target groups and disseminate the project activities and results to a wider circle of interested actors on one side, ant to open the project to other networks and consortia and creates a broader European network that takes into account, bridges and links to different initiatives.

The first year has been characterised by the definition of the strategies for Dissemination and Networking, and the setting up of the tools necessary for their implementation: logo, graphic identity, mailing lists, website, and social media. At the same time the partnership has also started all the activities necessary to their implementation and to connect the project to other initiatives aimed at fostering migrant entrepreneurship.

One important element of EMEN Project is the Website. Coordinated by AEIDL, the EMEN project website has been set up in the first month of activity and has achieved more than 2,500 visits and 800 items downloaded in just 5 months;It contains some of the 18 project outcomes developed during last months, relevant news, external resources and events in the shared migrent-agenda website,  but also a dedicated online space, the CoP Discussion Fora, which counts over 30 members representing 19 different organisations from 10 different EU countries. The website is, at the same time, connected with the rest of dissemination channels developed during the first months of project implementation: the Facebook Page and the Twitter profile. Additionally, Newsletter no. 1 was sent on 10 April 2018 to an audience of more than 1,000 contacts.

A key moment for the whole project but specially for CoP1, was the implementation of EMEN’s first Public Conference “Why Migrant Entrepreneurship Matters?” on 23rd -24th April at Social Impact’s offices in Munich. This 1st EMEN annual conference gathered over 60 participants who heard Professor Alexander Kritikos highlighting the status quo and potential of migrant entrepreneurs; a pitch event at which four migrant entrepreneurs/teams presented their experiences and enterprise ideas; and an Expert Café with six interactive workshops, invited experts and EMEN CoP experts who provided a 360° perspective on discourses relevant to migrant entrepreneurs.

The second day was dedicated to the EMEN’s core format, the Communities of Practice (CoPs).

Here, experts, practitioners and entrepreneurs shared knowledge and disseminated good practices on two areas that are key to supporting migrant entrepreneurship in the short to medium term: coaching and mentoring (CoP1) and professionalism and diversity management (CoP3).

The coming months will be the time for consolidating these achievements, strengthening the relationships and starting to put into practice different methodologies to identify better support schemes for migrant entrepreneurs. More events, inspiring workshops and learning materials will be developed very soon. Stay tune and do not miss any opportunity!


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