Increasingly, the merits of entrepreneurship are recognised both as a major pathway for immigrant integration and as a source of jobs and growth. Within European countries and on EU level, measures are taken to support migrant entrepreneurship, and debate has focused on related policy priorities.
Numerous activities and projects, including assessments of existing practice, stakeholder consultations on key needs and peer reviews across countries, have contributed to a common vision on how entrepreneurship support policies must evolve to provide all entrepreneurs with the same opportunities to start a business and succeed; regardless of their background, gender or age. An inclusive approach to encouraging and strengthening entrepreneurship takes into account the diversity of all businesspeople and aims for adapted, equally open services and support structures. This vision is underlined by research findings of a wide range of studies and by international institutions, such as the European Commission and the OECD.
However, initiatives and policies to support migrant entrepreneurship are not yet common to all countries, regions or cities in Europe. Often, measures still have a pilot character, are not mainstreamed into the activities of organisations responsible for business support at large, or are insufficiently networked and coordinated. Across Europe, there is a lack of sustained, evenly spread effort; and a need for more political attention given to the potentials and merits of thriving businesses which reflect the full diversity of our societies.
This initiative, therefore, supports the adoption of more effective policies and the broad-based implementation of measures on local, regional, national and EU levels – so that immigrant integration as well as entrepreneurship stakeholders can work together with a common agenda to support businesses with international roots.
As supporters of the MEGA Agenda, we call for concrete, comprehensive and adequately funded policies, measures and initiatives on all levels to enhance
- Visibility for migrants of existing entrepreneurship support services, and for the wider public of the contributions that migrant businesses make to prosperity and well-being.
- Networking between potential, newly established and successful migrant entrepreneurs, with the suppliers and customers of the mainstream economy, as well as business associations.
- Language- and cultural sensitivity in the provision of entrepreneurship support services to immigrants, including multilingual information and outreach to communities.
- Legal and regulatory advice on setting up and running a business, geared to the specific needs of (newly arrived) migrant entrepreneurs including language and residency aspects.
- Individual business support for migrant entrepreneurs, advising on the entire business cycle from development of business ideas and -plans to the start-up and growth phase.
- Targeted business training, taking into account the specific needs of (potential) entrepreneurs arriving from other regulatory, educational and linguistic contexts.
- Mentoring through experienced entrepreneurs, to support skill and knowledge development and to provide role models; including effective mentor/mentee matching procedures.
- Access to finance for potential and established migrant businesses, including obstacle-free access to credit from mainstream loaning institutions as well as alternative funding sources.
- Provision of facilities and incubating services for e.g. immigrant-run start-ups or one-person businesses that lack working space and technical infrastructures.
- Supplier diversity criteria in procurement, to ensure equal opportunities for migrant-owned businesses in accessing the contract volume of the public sector and of large companies.
- Data gathering, impact assessment and evaluation of measures, to improve the knowledge base on migrant entrepreneurship and better inform policies supporting it.