Support to immigrant entrepreneurs
Name / Title
Support to immigrant entrepreneurs
Case Study Region
Övre Norrland, Sweden
The municipality of Jokkmokk, Övre Norrland
Main activity / focus
The project is to find a new way of supporting and giving individual advice to immigrants interested in starting their own businesses or already running one. It is also to develop a way of working that makes it easier to base the guidance and business development actions on the individual needs of each immigrant interested in developing, starting and owning firms.
Target beneficiaries / market
The target group for the project is immigrants already running a business or interested in starting one are. Women and young adults are specially targeted.
Current Funding source(s)
The project is supported financially by a national programme designed to support immigrant entrepreneurs. The programme runs from 2008 to 2010 and aims as increasing the competitiveness of businesses, improve the conditions for immigrants to run businesses in Sweden to increase the number of work places as well as number of immigrant entrepreneurs.
Via the programme the project has been granted support to run from 2008 to 2010. This funding is to be used for supporting existing entrepreneurs.
To develop the initiative further – to meet the needs found in the region by Strukturum, the project is also supported financially by one of the owners of Strukturum. With this funding activities aiming at supporting immigrants interested in starting businesses, not only the already existing entrepreneurs, are carried out.
The initiative comes from a local business development company in Jokkmokk called Strukturum. This company is the project owner and implements the project.
The municipality owns 25 percent of Strukturum and a bank, a large state owned company in the energy business as well as the local business association owns the remaining 75 percent.
Strukturum was created to be at the forefront of the local business community, provide expertise in key areas and help strengthen the economic situation in the region. The company carries out tasks allocated to them by the municipality but do also initiate and implement own projects.
The project has no homepage but information can be found at the homepage of Strukturum: http://www.strukturum.se/default.asp
The initiative is carried out in a rural municipality as a part of actions to fight depopulation and create growth.
The initiative is not explicitly directed at integration but helping immigrants become active in developing the region and on the labour market, as well as develop network of business contacts can are important parts of the integration process.
This is to be done by stimulating immigrants to develop already existing businesses, improve the conditions for immigrants to start up businesses and increase the growth, employment share and in-migration to the municipality by increasing the amount of businesses.
One of the main factors behind the success of the initiative was the fact that the project owners did rethink their first ambitions after having picked up on the needs and ideas within the target group. Accordingly, the first activity held within the project was a meeting among immigrant entrepreneurs exclusively – this meeting was not very popular. Once the project owners realized that the target group preferred to become more integrated with the local business society over meeting within the group of immigrants, the activities became more appreciated.
In addition the target group turned out to have a wide range of different needs so Strukturum decided to search for individual solutions. Hence even though the funding for the project mainly comes from a national initiative the activities carried out are initiated by individual immigrants at the local level.
According to the interviewee the activities have facilitated for many immigrants: We have helped with training, information and mediating contacts which has made it easier for immigrants to get into the local business society. (Mari Klint, Project leader, Strukturm, (12.10.10))
The project has also helped shine light on the importance of entrepreneurs and shown immigrants roles in the business society. “Information about the project has spread through articles in the local newspaper so now almost everyone is aware of our activities.” (Mari Klint, Project leader, Strukturm, (12.10.10))
In addition the project is seen to have contributed to an improved situation for locals; “Through an increase in the number of sound businesses in the municipality everyone is affected positively. And also by the fact that some have become able to be more active in the local business community.” (Mari Klint, Project leader, Strukturm, (12.10.10))
The interviewee sees positive effects of the meetings between immigrant and non immigrant entrepreneurs. After the share of immigrants increased at the weekly meetings for entrepreneurs they have learnt from by each other and been inspired.
According to the interviewee the project has so far resulted in e.g.
The project has given Strukturum a good basis to continue their every day work from. It has developed the contacts between immigrants, the local business developers and the local business society. Now Strukturum has a good overview over immigrants running businesses and know how to contact many of them for example. This is expected to integrate immigrants better into the business networks in municipality and to increase the future share of immigrants attending the activities arranged by Strukturum and coming to Strukturum for support.