In Brandenburg 65000 foreigners live. Thus, the proportion of the total population is 2.4 percent. In total, around 123,600 people are living with an immigrant background in Brandenburg – five percent of the population.

The state of Brandenburg supports people with an immigrant background in their integration so that they can participate in the economic and social life. A prerequisite for successful integration are the opening of the host society on the one hand and the recognition of the legal system and the integration of the people with an immigrant background on the other. The aim is an equitable and rule-based on mutual respect coexistence of Brandenburg citizens and the people living here of different origin, nationality and religion.

In Brandenburg lived 13500 asylum seekers and refugees who (being obliged foreigners whose deportation has been temporarily suspended) at the end of june 2015.

The current crises in the world, for example, in Syria, in Afghanistan, in Iraq or in Ukraine, leading to significant increases in refugee numbers. This represents enormous challenges mainly for the municipalities, which are responsible for the accommodation of refugees.

According to the latest forecast of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees, the Land Brandenburg has to absorb in 2015 about 28,000 refugees.

Description of the initiative

Start-up coaching programme for migrants with the wish to get self-employed that is situated in Eastern Germany (Federal state of Brandenburg) and is funded by regional public sources and the European Social Funds. Main and biggest target groups are people from the former Soviet Union and a big share of migrants from Poland or Vietnam. The remaining share consists of migrants from Latin America, China, Africa, Turkey and Afghanistan.

Main objective of the coaching process is to check on the will and the ability of the participants to get and stay self-employed.  For those an individual start-up plan is laid out.

Implementation of the initiative

The service is composed out of 3 different steps: 1. Initial consultation, 2. assessment course, 3. and forwarding to consulting service.

The average duration of the initial consultation is one hour; all in all 3 to 4 counselling interviews can be hold before a decision regarding the next step (assessment course) is made. The consultations are hold in German, Russian or English. There is no formalised procedure for the interviews as it is rather focused on establishing trust and a communicative atmosphere. Central issues are the presentation of the business idea, possible funding sources, the general business situation and environment, skills and wishes of the founder.

The goal is a first assessment whether self-employment really is an option for the person and a preliminary profiling. If applicable, a rough calculation and plausibility check of the business idea is done but no in-depth discussions of details or even formulation of a business plan at this stage. The migrant is provided with informative literature, brochures, calculation grids, business plan checklist in order to support the discrete preparation and detailing of the business idea and is introduced into the further services of Social Impact, like the assessment course, an non-mandatory offer of which a lot of clients make use, because of the recommendations of past participants. In contrast to the initial consultation, knowledge of the German language is mandatory in this 4-day course. It is not teacher-centred learning but clearly focused on group and team work. By doing this, people are better activated and network contacts are established. On the content side, the course imparts basic knowledge of business administration, like accounting, financial planning, legal issues and taxes. Additionally an in-depth entrepreneurial profiling is conducted by a psychologist. The goal of this is to check on the individual ability and will to get and stay self employed. If severe problems are foreseeable, the person is advised against stepping into self-employment. For those who are still willing to set up the business, the individual and detailed consulting needs are determined and an individual “start-up-plan” is drawn up. After that, the first contact with an adequate start-up consultant from Social Impact data base of multilingual consultants is established. Here the consulting is intensified around specific topics regarding the individual needs. This encompasses the analysis and revision of the business plan, financial statements, financial scheme, and if needed coaching and preparation for bank meetings and attendance at the meeting itself. The average consulting time of clients amounts to 26 hours.

Resources dedicated to the initiative

Financial sources

Overall budget per year: 275 000€

Main financial sources: Ministry of Labour and European Social Fund

Human resources dedicated to the initiative

1,5 piloting staff and 0,5 participant and finance administration and in addition fees for consulting amounts to 140 000€- each year

Other resources dedicated to the initiative

20 000€- network and translations


For the last 10 years:

  • 600 initial consultations
  • 300 assessments-participants
  • 250 individual consulting service
  • 160 start-ups of a new business
  • 70% of the start ups are still at the market

Critical success factors

  • Trust of the participants
  • Networking with actors of the institutional regional start-up support (chambers, banks, regional economic development)
  • Access to migrant communities
  • Knowledge specific migrant problems (formal recognition of educational qualifications, work permits)

Biggest obstacles

  • Individual traumas caused by war experiences of participants
  • Lack of knowledge of the regional markets