The EntryWay - Entrepreneurship without borders project encouraged immigrants from outside of the EU to start their own businesses in Thessaloniki, the second biggest city in Greece. The programme offered skills support and guides participants through the early stages of entrepreneurship. The project was implemented by the Business & Cultural Development Centre (KEPA) in Thessaloniki, Greece, and co-funded by the European Union through the Directorate-General for the Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW). The project was also implemented in Italy (Milan, Reggio Emilia, and Bari), Germany (Hamburg), Spain (Navarra) and Sweden (Stockholm).
Immigrants from outside of the EU who seek to start their own business in Greece face a variety of obstacles, including a lack of financial resources, restrictive immigration and visa policies, and complex bureaucratic procedures. EntryWay was created to address some of these barriers and facilitate the economic inclusion of immigrants.
The EntryWay programme was open to all immigrants and refugees, with a focus on youth and women. Candidates were asked to submit an application including a brief description of their business idea and relevant background information. Selection criteria included a strong motivation, having a business idea (which could be at a very early stage), having relevant (formal or informal) education or professional experience, and having at least an elementary knowledge of English or Greek. Previous entrepreneurial or professional experience in the country of origin was considered an asset. The EntryWay project carried out outreach activities (through national and local authorities, NGOs, national organisations, the press, migrant forums, etc.) to identify, select and orient potential candidates.
Successful candidates received support in two phases. During the first phase of the programme, participants attended entrepreneurship training. The training modules aimed to help participants gain a better understanding of entrepreneurship, and equip them with methods to get started through lectures and practical exercises on various topics (e.g. creating a business plan, assessing market potential, creating a marketing strategy, developing a financial plan).
In a second phase, participants received personalised support from experienced entrepreneurs, business counsellors and mentors to develop their business idea into a business plan and start their activity. Participants received two months of mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs. The programme monitored entrepreneurs as they developed their projects and offered ad-hoc support and advice on key issues (e.g. administrative procedures, creating a business plan, finance management, and funding methods).
Between mid-2017 and mid-2019, about 85 migrants participated in the business training offered by EntryWay in Greece. Women represented 25% of the participants (less than the initial target of 35%) and youth (people under 35 years old) made up 45% of the participants (15 percentage points less than the target). About two-thirds of participants continued on to the second phase of the programme (personalised advisory support).
- European Commission (2020), “ENTRYWAY- Entrepreneurship Without Borders”, EUROPEAN WEB SITE ON INTEGRATION - Migrant Integration Information and good practices, https://ec.europa.eu/migrant-integration/intpract/entryway--entrepreneurship-without-borders
- KEPA (2020), “Entry Way”, https://kepa.e-kepa.gr/european-programs/entry-way/?lang=en