The Fresh start team brings together different types of partners who collectively have the insights, skills, networks and organisational abilities to help aspirant migrant entrepreneurs succeed in achieving their ambitions and goals.
The core partners are all universities in different European member states, London, England, Limburg, Belgium and Maastricht, Netherlands. The three University partners to this project are each located in cities and agglomerations that have a large pull-factor for migrants. Collectively, they also have high numbers of students from less advantaged and minority backgrounds, they have experience of working with young people from many varied backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities. They are skilled at promoting enterprise to their diverse student bodies (e.g. LSBU has recently won the 2016 Times Higher Education Award for Entrepreneurial University of the year and was highly commended at the 2016 Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs Awards).
Each member state has formed a partnership with local organisations to support the delivery of our proposal and to create a community based approach. Working with organisations that are supporting young migrants to build a connected support system for enabling entrepreneurship in the host region.
We believe that creating a collaborative endeavour between different partners, and engaging them on a project with a clear purpose – to support migrant entrepreneurs – will result in a project that has a catalytic impact and multiplier effect. By working together Educators+Enterprise Agencies+ NGOS/Third Sector +Community Partners will complete the picture and collectively will collectively have the full skill set. Together we will be more effective than each partner working individually in their own organisational silo. Without the co-working of diverse partners working together in common purpose future efforts to support migrant entrepreneurs will be less impactful, less sustainable, more fractured and more expensive.
LSBU has a fantastic track record in running successful projects engaging and supporting local small businesses and entrepreneurs to develop their business or business idea. The ERDF funded Investment Escalator programme provided free advice to help local businesses grow - 193 SMEs were supported, creating or safeguarding over 110 jobs and raising £1million of investment (of which over 50% were from BAME backgrounds). LSBUs new ERDF funded Momentum programme will take 30 leaders of micro enterprises on a journey that will leave them fully prepared for investment and expansion. LSBU is located in an area of London where the local population is significantly younger, more ethnically diverse and more deprived than the UK as a whole. LSBU is skilled in reaching out to diverse communities and moving them into the economic and social mainstream, either by improving their educational attainment or supporting their entrepreneurial ambitions and in many cases doing both.
Citizens UK (one of the UK project partners) has an active project ‘New Citizens Organising Team’, that is training and developing leaders from migrant communities by helping to build social campaigns that are relevant to them. ‘Stand Up Stand Out’ is a migrant youth-led movement that trains young people to be active in initiatives that will advance the cause and situation of the entire community.
‘Refugees Welcome’ is a Citizens UK project that has worked with various civil organisations to help re-settle refugee (particularly from Syria) families across the UK. Working with members of the UK Parliament, they have also been successful in securing agreement from the UK Government to increase the number of refugees to be re-settled in the UK from the Syrian war zone.
Zuyd University are working in partnership with the VluchtelingenWerk Nederland (VWN) – the Dutch Council For Refugees. VWN are one of the largest refugee assisting organisations in Europe. They have 13,000 volunteers, who together with a small number of paid employees provide practical support to refugees during their asylum procedures. They also work internationally to help capacity build NGOs abroad as part of a process called NGO twinning.
Qredits is the main micro-credit organisation in the Netherlands and they have a broad scale of activities in the field of entrepreneurship. They deliver a wide range of training via, evening classes. From 2017 they will be starting new projects with a special focus on Entrepreneurship for Refugees.
Zuyd has also has been carrying out a number activities that this project will build upon, for example work experience placements for refugees. This work is of considerable local significance and Zuyd is a leading partner (alongside the University of Maastricht, Colleges for Intermediate Vocational Training, Maastricht Council, the Central Agency for the Reception of Asylum Seekers etc.), who are working to support the integration of migrants into the wider community. This includes programmes to support language learning, personal independence and ultimately provide pathways for migrants to make a substantial contribution to Dutch society.
UCLL have created a sounding board of senior experts to review and advise on the project activity. The sounding board is linked to the University’s journey to become ever more entrepreneurial and better able to support the internationalisation of SMEs.
This project will build upon several past projects that UCLL has been a part of. “BIG STEP: Learning through Gamification” which helped integration of vulnerable groups via a multimedia tool – allowing adult-learners to learn about language and cultural aspects of different countries. The UCLL project “Empowering Inclusive Teachers for Today and Tomorrow’ provided training on inclusion strategies in schools. A campaign project also supported immigrants to learn the language of their new country.
UCLL's diversity funded project ‘Work for Me" researched why migrant students had difficulties entering the labour market. The medium of dance was used to look at employers explanations for this – lack of written literacy skills, lack of presentation skills and poor time management. The students ‘danced' with these assertions and come up with three alternatives: the need for a local network, the need to introduce some of their values on the work floor, the opportunity to introduce employers to an international network.