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Promotion of Immigrant Entrepreneurship, Portugal



The project ‘Promotion of Immigrant Entrepreneurship’ ran from 1 April 2009 to 30 May 2014 and aimed to improve the integration of immigrants, especially women and those living in distressed neighbourhoods. It supported business creation and self-employment through training and personalised coaching in developing business ideas and building businesses.


Research conducted by the Portuguese High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue (ACIDI ) found that immigrant-led new businesses tend to operate in low value-added industries that are characterised by low barriers to entry. ACIDI research also suggests that many immigrant entrepreneurs would benefit from improved self-confidence and high levels of social and management skills.

Key Activities

The project used locally-based actors, such as immigration associations, banks, NGOs and other civil society organisations, to lead the activities in order to leverage their understanding of the client communities. Its two main activities were training and coaching. Ten training sessions on business management, regulatory compliance and access to finance, and eight individual meetings were offered to each entrepreneur (or entrepreneurial team) to support the development of business plans and help participants build relationships with the local business community and to connect them to other business networks.

The PEI project was managed by three full-time project managers with assistance from 1 part-time staff member in each of the partner institutions. Each course had a specialised trainer, who was also required to provide individual coaching. Social media such as Facebook was also actively used to promote the project and to disseminate information to participants. The PEI project was financed through the European Fund for the Integration of Third Country Nationals (FEINPT) and by the ACIDI. The total budget was approximately EUR 875 000.


The project reached 1 450 immigrant participants. Of these, 777 participants received a certificate of attendance for the training. This resulted in the development of 305 business ideas by participants with the support of trainers and coaches and the creation of 75 businesses involving 80 immigrant participants. The PEI project was awarded the winning prize in the category Responsible and Inclusive Entrepreneurship in the European Enterprise Promotion Award 2012.

This case study was adapted from material published in: OECD/European Union (2015), The Missing Entrepreneurs 2015: Policies for Self-employment and Entrepreneurship, OECD Publishing, Paris.