The following sub-module discusses social entrepreneurism as a valid employment opportunity and provides some practical activities to get them started.
As has already been discussed above, migrants arriving to Europe oftentimes already have previous working experiences as well as diverse skills and hobbies.
In this context, opening a social enterprise, which makes use of the skills and competences they already possess, might be a valuable opportunity for them to put those to use, thus creating further benefits for their local community. As the EC states, a social enterprise “combine[s] societal goals with an entrepreneurial spirit. These organisations focus on achieving wider social, environmental or community objectives”. With the Social Business Initiative, launched in 2011, the commission aims at supporting such types of enterprises and provide them with opportunities equal to other kinds of businesses.
However, since there is no universal definition of social entrepreneurism, the EC further clarifies that the term ‘social enterprise’ is used for the following kinds of businesses that mainly operate in the fields of work integration, personal social services, local development of disadvantaged areas as well as other areas (e.g. recycling, environmental protection, sports, culture etc.):
- Enterprises for which the social or societal objective of the common good is the reason for the commercial activity, often in the form of a high level of social innovation;
- Enterprises whose profits are mainly reinvested to achieve this social objective and
- Enterprises where the structure or the ownership system reflects the enterprise’s mission, using democratic or participatory principles or focusing on social justice.
In order to be classified by the European Union as a social enterprise, the organisation must meet the prerequisites, including the three dimensions depicted below.
Figure 3: Three dimensions of a social enterprise (From: https://ec.europa.eu/social/BlobServlet?docId=12987&langId=en )
With regards to social entrepreneurism, an important factor is funding. Since 2011, the EC has adopted mechanisms and tools to support social entrepreneurs to access financing. There are different ways and tools the European Union fosters this. If you are interested in them, you can have a look here. Furthermore, it is always a good idea to research national or regional calls and initiatives that might offer funding opportunities for your participants wanting to start their own social enterprise.
You can use the following activities to get your participants started in creating their own business but consider researching if there are any services supporting the further development of their idea in your area. Starting a business is hard, especially in a foreign country and everybody will need all the support they can get in order to go ahead with an initial idea and avoid abandoning it mid-way. This might be public services but could also be NGOs offering services in the sector, such es support for start-ups or entrepreneurism in general. In Palermo, a concrete example offering such services is MoltiVolti’s entrepreneurship service, which helps organisations develop their activities as well as responds to specific training requests in order to support the creation of social enterprises and collectives.
As a practical example, in the best practice chapter, you can further find information on Giocherenda – a social enterprise dedicated to the creation games that stimulate imagination, storytelling and solidarity, managed by young people who arrived in Italy as unaccompanied minors.
Activity 6: Identify your purpose
Group and/or individual activity
Using the Purpose Venn Diagram to identify participants’ purpose in life
Purpose Venn Diagram Handout and a pen for each participant; flipcharts for the brainstorming
- Provide your participants with the handout and explain the different categories to them. The goal is for them to identify several things/activities per category and to then find the common ground.
- You can start with a brainstorming in group to do one example together. Using yourself and your interests as a concrete example might be useful for the group in order to better understand the concept. You can also choose to use an invented example.
- Afterwards, participants will be given 20-30 min to complete their handouts. Starting with identifying what they love to do and what they are objectively good at and then going on to what of these activities they could be paid for and what the world needs. Motivate them to think outside the box and facilitate the process for the participants.
- At the end of the time, ask a volunteer to present their diagram and discuss in group what participants learned from the activity, if it was useful for them and what they learned from it.
Activity 7: Developing my business plan
Group and/or individual activity
This activity will help participants to envision their business idea and how they would like to develop it.
Pen and paper
1. Ask the participants to think of their own business idea and how they would like to develop it. If they cannot think of a new idea, they can think of a business they like and describe the way they would develop it. Participants will have to write down the basic concepts/ aspects of their idea, answering the following questions:
- What sector/type of product or service would I like to focus on? (e.g. food, clothes, etc.)
- What can I offer to the consumers?
- Do I have the skills to do it myself? Do I need a partner with specific skills?
- Where will I establish my business?
- What are the other stores in the surroundings? Are there too many businesses like the one I would like to start?
2. Participants write down their ideas and then they briefly present their ideas to the group.
3. After participants have presented their own entrepreneurship idea, the facilitator congratulates them and starts a discussion based on the following questions:
- How easy/hard was it for you to think of a business idea?
- Did you feel confident that you could this could be implemented? If not, what do you think are the constraints? Is there anything you would do differently?
- Did you find similarities in the business ideas of other participants?
- Do you feel confident that this could be implemented? In not, what do you think are the constraints? Is there anything you would do differently?
4. Upon the finalisation of the discussion, the facilitator concludes that anyone can be an entrepreneur. Even though it is a process that might seem tiring, we need to be persistent if we believe that our product or service has something to offer.
Activity 8: Developing my business plan
Group and/or individual activity
Pen and paper
This activity will help participants to get in the mindset of an entrepreneur and will try to prepare their plan to found a business. They will cultivate their organisational skills, spirit of collaboration (face to face), strategic, innovative and marketing thinking, time management skills, analytical and problem-solving skills, branding and networking skills.
- The facilitator explains to the participants that they will now try to put the idea they had in the previous exercise (Developing my business idea) into action.
- Participants will be split into two groups and they will discuss the ideas formerly presented, in order to agree on which is more suitable to be implemented. Participants will have to take into consideration their skills, the market demands, the target audience, innovative features and the other factors that were previously discussed. They will then discuss the selected idea and, as the board/members of the social enterprise, trying to prepare a plan on how they will proceed, based on the business plan framework provided in the theoretical part (above).
- Upon selection of the fittest idea, participants will have to discuss potential problems that might occur and ways to resolve them, strategies to create their business and product/service, ways to promote it to the target audience.
- After the development of their plan, the two groups will present their plan on founding an enterprise and will discuss on the issues they stumbled across.
- Debriefing: When participants are presenting their ideas, the facilitator will start a discussion based on the following (and additional) questions:
- a) Was it hard to find a common ground on the idea you decided to implement?
- b) Was it hard to find the innovative parts of the idea you selected?
Tips for the facilitator
- Help participants to think outside the box and to valorise all different skills and previous experiences that they have;
- Keep it realistic! – Not everybody will be able to start any business;
- Be informed on local services that support entrepreneurial activities of people wanting to start a business so that you can refer your participants to them.