CRIB is an incubation programme coordinated by Kilowatt that values the talents and skills of migrants who have obtained the refugee status and supports them in defining and putting into practice their business ideas. CRIB offers a 36-hour training programme, a 12-hour One-on-One Mentoring path and a 1 month on the job training experience, aimed at 3 individuals or groups with a business idea.
One Page Summary
The European Parliament [“Labour Market Integration of Refugees: Strategies and Good Practices”] clearly states the great importance of early access of refugees and asylum seekers to the labor market, as an effective strategy to integration. Migrants in general, even those regularly residing on a territory since several years, experience greater difficulties in entering the labour market (compared to natives) and especially if accessing high skilled positions, even if they are qualified them. Refugees included in the Protection System for Asylum Seekers and Refugees (SPRAR), including the UNHCR resettlement program, tend to be in a worse position than the rest of the migrant population. Although employment is widely recognized as a crucial factor for integration, there is broad consensus that the opening of autonomous economic activities tends to be very difficult, for a variety of reasons: difficulties in having their skills recognized, difficulties in accessing a support network and, above all, in accessing funds necessary for the start-up phase.
The institutions and organizations (cooperatives and public bodies) involved in the SPRAR system, which welcome and support migrants in the first period of their stay, usually offer services such as cultural orientation, linguistic and professional training, legal or educational orientation and work placement programmes, with training courses that do not always end with the activation of stable contracts. Usually they are able to find jobs in low-skilled sectors, such as construction or agricultural production, but neither cooperatives have the skills/experience/time to activate entrepreneurial paths, nor do the migrants have all the necessary information to start their own independent business. Moreover, refugees who are part of the resettlement program often arrive in Italy with their family and to find a stable job, in which the rest of the family can also be involved, is a priority.
The CRIB project wants to facilitate the economic and social integration of migrants who have obtained international protection, by actively including all the actors involved in the management of the SPRAR program and by creating a connection with other organizations that might facilitate the development of new businesses run by refugees. CRIB intends to highlight their talents and relational skills, by supporting them in the development of their business ideas, through a program of scouting, training, networking, incubation and tutoring. We intend to create a “user-friendly environment” for refugees, who are often unwilling to turn to public institutions and "complex" bodies, due to the complicated bureaucracy and the difficulties in accessing credit.
One of the strong point of our proposal is the fact that Kilowatt is already in contact with some cooperatives in Bologna, hosts several migrants workers, and knows how the job placement process works, the other is that it has a solid experience in running and managing incubation programmes for the development of entrepreneurial ideas. Nevertheless we are aware of the fact that the concept of entrepreneurship is embedded in social and economic contexts, with embeddedness we mean “the nature, depth, and extent of an individual’s ties into the environment” (Jack and Anderson, 2002, p. 468) and that the “cultural factor”, when designing an incubation programme for migrants, deserves a special focus. Therefore, the use of training tools designed and applied solely with a Western perspective - that do not take into consideration entrepreneurial approaches and linguistic codes of the migrants involved - could be a limit. We intend to overcome, or at least easen this obstacles, by including junior mentors - selected among university students coming from the countries of origin of the participants - in order to allow the model to be translated and to increase its effectiveness. The presence of Mentors and its effectiveness in facilitating integration processes is highly recommended also in the above mentioned study requested by the European Parliament Committee.
Specific attention will be dedicated to the first phase of the CRIB project - that is to say the definition of the business idea and to its validation - in order to diminish the risks of failure from the very early stages of the project and to direct future actions. At the end of the programme, migrants still motivated in starting their own business will be put in touch with local businesses that are already implementing similar initiatives, to look for synergies and spend a period of observation on the job. Furthermore, during the incubation programme the participants will become part of an entrepreneurial network, that will allow them to have access to further information, training opportunities and funding that may be useful after the end of the CRIB project.