Migrant and entrepreneur. Non frequently approached nouns which, in our common perception, seem to form an oxymoron.
Yet in Italy there is the presence of 447,422 entrepreneurs born abroad, according to what emerges from a research carried out from the Censis Institute and the University of Roma Tre.
Mainly owners of small or very small businesses, particularly active in the services and industry sectors and in some fields which are characterized as labor intensive: the manufacture of clothes and leather garments in manufacturing, construction, trade, catering, accommodation, rental and “multiservice” activities.
Migrants entrepreneurs in Italy: some useful number
Therefore, entrepreneurs with a migration background make up the 14.6% of the entrepreneurs in our country.
The 81% come from a non-EU country and 23% are women.
In addition, 71.9% of these entrepreneurs have employees and 60% of their businesses have been active for more than three years.
These data are surprising if it is customary to attribute little action power to the figure of the migrant.
A prize for immigrant businesess in Italy
With the aim of making these stories increasingly known, the “MoneyGram Awards” was established. The mission? Identify and recognize the business projects carried out in Italy by immigrants, which stand out for their innovative and development ideas.
One of the winners in 2019 was Andreea Arnautu from Romania: he has been the firstone to create a platform dedicated to non-profit organizations in Italy.
The sector of technological innovation is, in fact, the one in which entrepreneurs from other countries are most able to make their way because they derive from contexts which are increasingly engaged in supplying chains such as high technology. This is how they become the new reference points in this field, necessary to anticipate and intervene on certain market change trends.
More in the North, less in the South. But something is changing
Most of the entrepreneurial projects managed by migrants in Italy are developed in the North (the 53%, especially placed in Lombardy where 81.355 entrepreneurs present in the territory are born abroad) and less in the South (4%); but there is already someone who is trying to work on a change in this regard.
“Startups Without Borders” is a platform born in Egypt, and recently transferred also in Rome, which promotes opportunities for startups founded by refugees and migrant entrepreneurs around the world.
In 2019 they launched the first “Orizzonti Startup” event, a conference to bring together migrant and refugee entrepreneurs from all over Italy with the aim of drawing attention to the emerging ecosystem of startups created by them, in order to build a virtuous supply chain for develop new businesses in the area.
ELYME, a project to accompany migrants in their personal entrepreneurial path
In line with the aforementioned realities, the pilot project called ELYME – Entrepreneurial Labs for Young Migrants across Europe – was born.
It has been designed with this objective in mind: accompany the migrant in his personal entrepreneurial path.
In fact, it takes place on three levels which have a specific focus on:
- those who have yet to outline their business idea;
- those who need a more detailed knowledge of the tools necessary to be able to implement it and
- those who have a business already started but need to innovate or improve some aspects.
The project was born with the intention of responding to the need for comparison with people who share the same dream and who are close at a territorial level, creating a support network with which to be able to face the difficulties and pitfalls that are encountered in undertaking a difficult path like the entrepreneurial one.