Save the date : November 9th, 2017 at the European parliament in Brussels

Migrants and refugees

Concept note


IOM, UN Migration Agency, reports that 103,175 migrants and refugees entered Europe by sea in 2017 through 12 July, with almost 85 per cent arriving in Italy and the remainder divided between Greece, Cyprus and Spain. This compares with 240,014 arrivals across the region through 12 July 2016. People migrate in pursuit of a better life for themselves and their families. In the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ (IFRC) Policy on Migration, “migrants are persons who leave or flee their habitual residence to go to new places – usually abroad – to seek opportunities or safer and better prospects. Migration can be voluntary or involuntary, but most of the time a combination of choices and constraints are involved.”

When refugees and migrants arrive in Europe, they have very different needs, at the beginning covering the first emergency: food, water, clothes, practical information and psychosocial support, then legal aid, housing and employment.

The social economy and social enterprises contribute to the social and professional inclusion of people in vulnerable situations, and provide services – including social and green services – for the benefit of the community. Some social economy organisations support the social inclusion and integration into the labour market of people who face discrimination or are at risk of social exclusion, such as migrant women. These organisations are known as work integration social enterprises (or WISEs). Other social economy organisations may provide services of general interest, including health, employment, education and housing.

In this workshop, we would like to discover how social economy and social enterprise (WISE) initiatives can help specifically migrants and refugees with services they need to become included in and contribute to the society. The RICE Report by the UNHCR reveals that the key concerns of refugees are housing and employment, including training and re-training.

As refugees and migrants continues to seek protection and a better life in Europe, one of the challenges for social economy initiatives is the financing [1],. Refugees and migrants may also be subject to discrimination on the labour market and in access to services, which needs have to be taken into account.


Interventions – good practices

  • Wise: OKUS DOMA / TASTE OF HOME (a culinary-cultural-research project that introduces the culture, customs and countries of origin of refugees and migrants in Croatia)
  • MILAR project, that has as primary objective those to offer innovative training and job opportunities for refugees, characterized by different levels of competence and different migratory origins, in Italy, Sweden, Germany, UK
  • Stuetzpunkt”: a support point office in Enns, founded in 2008. Its activities address recognized refugees and people granted subsidiary protection, who receive a needs-based minimum income. Men and women from various countries are offered a temporary employment (Austria).
  • The Magdas Hotel (Austria): Inclusion of refugees in a social enterprise in the tourism sector
  • Ester Foundation (Sweden): A social enterprise that helps women with migrant backgrounds to become entrepreneurs (see video)

(1) There are three existing funds that apply specifically to refugees: AMIF (Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund), FEAD (Fund for European Aid to the most Deprived) and ESF (European Social Fund).