UNITEE Conference: HOMO FABER – The varied benefits of Migrant Entrepreneurship in Europe
Oct 20 2017 | Category: Expert Roundtables UNITEE - Image 2013 © UNITEE

The EU has been engulfed, in the past years, into a series of crises that have put into question its survival itself: from the economic crisis, to the migration crisis, up to a widening gap between the North and the South, Europe is going through a deep rethinking of its identity and political situation.

In all this, migrant entrepreneurship has slowly started to be acknowledged as a potential solution at different levels. Indeed, migrant entrepreneurship not only is an instrument of economic growth, in as much as it created new jobs; it also provides a powerful vector of social and economic integration for individuals who would otherwise remain at the margins of society.

Furthermore, diversity can foster increased innovation, as research has shown in numerous occasions. Finally, it contributes to reduce the impact of migration and the cost of integration into European society.

This event, organized by UNITEE – New European Business Confederation – at the European Parliament on Wednesday 18th October 2017, was an opportunity to discuss in depth the role of migrant entrepreneurs in creating a more sustainable, fairer and more innovative Europe.

The conference started with the welcoming words by the moderator, Mr. Diogo Pinto, Member of the Steering Group of the Spinelli Group. Mr. Pinto started by describing how Europe has recently witnessed a series of crisis, among which the refugees’ issue. At the same time, he pointed out the importance of identifying the positive aspects of such phenomenon, namely the contribution of migrant entrepreneurship to Europe’s economy in various aspects. In this regard, the New Europeans initiative could be an important platform for a multilateral constructive dialogue.

After Mr. Pinto’s introduction, the roundtable started with an intervention by Mr. Panagiotis Gkofas, Member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) and President of European SMEs Academy Avignon, who underlined that the EU needs to have a common asylum system, which would greatly ease and foster the migrants’ integration, especially in terms of relocation, training, education, language, and thus help them grow professionally.

The discussion followed with a presentation by Mr. Giovanni Collot, Editor in Chief of The New European Magazine. According to him, the key positive aspects concerning the “New European Entrepreneurs” are the following:

  1. Migrant entrepreneurs are contributing to a rejuvenation of Europe, bringing diversity, new talents and enthusiasm to a market whose local population is increasingly ageing;
  2. Migrant entrepreneurs boost Europe’s trade development as they bring new products and build bridges to new markets, as well as providing an access to multilateral business, through a growing network of professional diasporas. Several academic researches have shown that migrant entrepreneurship has been revitalizing the European economy as well as contributing to social local development;
  3. These new economic actors are at the same time facilitators of integration of their own communities and new comers, by transferring know-how and creating social networks. This way, if properly channelled, diaspora’s movements could become successful EU ambassadors;

At the same time, the main challenges currently faced by migrant entrepreneurs in Europe, namely:

  1. Difficulties can be found in access to finance and access to skill development;
  2. At times, entrepreneurship is not a choice, though a necessity due to lack of other opportunities;
  3. Such communities have the tendency to create mono-ethnic groups that could be an obstacle to integration;

The next speaker was Ms. Helene Dage, Deputy Head of Unit at the European Commission, DG Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs. Ms. Dage firstly pointed out that migrant entrepreneurs could be a remarkable added value for the EU economy.

The European Commission is currently drawing its attention on finding the right tools to untap the growing potential of migrant, youth and women entrepreneurs.

Some of these tools target challenges as the language and bureaucracy barrier and the lack of visibility, by adopting a holistic approach that encourages raising awareness, networking sessions, mentoring activities, group sharing, legal and regulatory advice, provisional facilities. In general, a successful integration of migrant entrepreneurs must be addressed and planned at global level, and be the result of a multilateral sharing of resources and knowledge. Finally, a crucial aspect is the sustainability of all integrating policies, which needs to be programmed and implemented.

The round table was then closed by Dr. Adem Kumcu, President of UNITEE, who pointed out that migrants’ communities in Europe have a huge diversity and cannot be seen as a monoblock. On the other hand, Mr. Kumcu underlined the sense of urgency to boost integration policies at EU level, as well as the importance of migrant entrepreneurship also in terms of positive outcomes for internationalization of EU SMEs.

In conclusion, all the panelists agreed on the fact that mentoring will be a crucial subject for migrant entrepreneurship’s integration in Europe in the near future. At the same time, both the EU institutions and the private sector will have to progressively do consistent efforts in encouraging the exchange of good practices. In addition, all steps toward a successful integration of migrant entrepreneurship should start with personal initiatives and collaborations at local level.

To know more about UNITEE upcoming events and activities, please contact Ms. Chiara Vidussi at cvidussi@unitee.eu

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