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Entrepreneurs without Borders

Hamburg
Germany

 

Entrepreneurs without Borders (Unternehmer ohne Grenzen ñ UoG) is an intercultural development organization in the city of Hamburg, founded in 2000, that supports potential entrepreneurs with a migratory background in urban depressed areas through a system of mutual assistance. ëEntrepreneurs without Bordersí was created as bottom-up initiative by immigrant entrepreneurs to act as a bridge between immigrants and business and to enable immigrants to create businesses through providing information, qualification, and education, and by establishing a wide network of contacts with national, regional, and local policymakers. Its activities aim to include immigrants in economic and social life, opening up them to viable opportunities to create personal businesses.

To pursue this goal, the association also performs other tasks such as organizing trade conferences, discussion meetings, and cultural meetings, and networking, co-operating, and regularly exchanging experiences with regional, national, and international agencies. In the context of a strong presence of immigrants in the city of Hamburg and issues related to language problems, qualifications and capacities, and understanding laws and requirements for start-up projects (especially in countries like Germany with complex labour market regulations, tax systems, and business regulations), ëEntrepreneurs without Bordersí bases its work on providing real opportunities in the economic sphere, recognizing migrantsí rights and aspirations in a challenging environment with structural unemployment.

Creating a system of mutual assistance, ëEntrepreneurs without Bordersí is a counselling services concerning self-employment: experienced entrepreneurs ñ migrants with their own experience in the field ñ help aspiring entrepreneurs to obtain the necessary knowledge to comply with necessary laws and regulations. The distance between immigrants and economic opportunities/initiatives is therefore reduced. Proximity is also created through the establishment of forums and platforms with key business institutions, where UoG acts as lobby organization for immigrant entrepreneurs, and the creation of a network of information providers with advisory services located in several districts of the city of Hamburg.

Entrepreneurs without Bordersí is financed by the City of Hamburg and European Social Funds. The beneficiaries are entrepreneurs of immigrant origin, with both start-up and existing businesses. About 1,500 immigrants made use of UoG counselling services over the 2001-2005 period. An evaluation conducted by the University of Applied Science of Hamburg indicated a need for improvement in the area of fiscal issues, state funding, and financing.