In May 2016, Nacka launched the Entrepreneurs Hub, a pilot project that merges entrepreneurship with local immigration and labour market strategies.
The aim was to create a dynamic place - a hub - where Nacka's new residents could get support to start their own businesses. The reasons behind the initiative were: the recognition of the growing number of immigrants coming to Sweden, the Stockholm region and Nacka itself, with estimated 20-25% of them having background or previous experience in business, entrepreneurship or running a small company or family business; the character of the local municipality reception of immigrants, which has strong tradition in terms of job seeking support, language training and civil society engagement, but comparatively lags behind in supporting start-ups and foreign-born new entrepreneurs; and the demands of local businesses and commercial sector, which was looking for diversity and to be replenished by new firms and potential sub-contractors.
The Entrepreneurs Hubs provides several services such as business counselling and coaching. It also provides a meeting place for immigrant start-ups to share their success stories with others and also give overview of the Swedish labour market and education system.
With the pilot period ending (the programme was initially planned for one year from May 2016- May 2017) Nacka has noted a number of trends, successes and overall reflections of their initiative. As by December 2016, the ‘Hub’ had been in contact with nearly 75 individuals, out of which 25 decided to participate in the pilot project. In regards to those who did not take part; the majority said that they would need more financial support from the municipality. It should be noted that the majority of participants in the project were not recently arrived immigrants, who were expected to be the main target group of the initiative, but rather by those who had lived in Sweden for 3-5 years. The ethnic and language background also varied more as is was not dominated only by Arabic, Dari and Tigrinya speakers like presumed.
The Entrepreneurs Hub is currently reflecting on its one year of exploring immigrant start-ups and how to get a business going for Nacka's new residents. The ‘Hub’ has worked with over 60 participants from some 30 countries with different age profiles, business ideas, backgrounds and language skills. This diversity has been part of both the attractiveness and success but also the challenge in managing of the project. Nearly ten of the participants have reached milestones like 'first invoice', 'opened my premises' or 'business website launched' and others have ended up being employed or finding a mentor. The state systems and regulations continue to be the main stumbling block for immigrant start-ups and those working with them. However the journey continues with the project has been given the green light in May 2017.