While entrepreneurship represents a viable alternative of decent and sustainable employment for women migrants of diverse cultural backgrounds – a powerful way towards empowerment, self-realization, income creation and improvement of their social status – the potential contribution that entrepreneurship can bring to their lives and the economy of the host country is often hindered by a series of challenges ranging from traditional barriers to business creation – difficulties in accessing credit, overwhelming bureaucracy, and lack of familiarity with the (business) environment – to some more complex ones embedded in our social structures: cultural differences and stereotypes, gender biases and social norms social that pose unique barriers to business growth and profitability for female-run enterprises.
To support these entrepreneurs – and aspiring entrepreneurs – to navigate the challenges of starting or growing a business, Digital Leadership Institute organized between 17 and 19th of June 2022 the Athena Entrepreneurship Bootcamp, a free 3-day entrepreneurship program dedicated to third-national migrant of diverse backgrounds. The Bootcamp was structured in three interconnected modules that were also suitable to be followed independently according to each participant’s interest and need. The aim was to offer a comprehensive understanding of the business ecosystem in Belgium and to develop a community with a wide range of experience and expertise to support the participating entrepreneurs long-term.
The boothcamp was structured around three main topics:
Day 1- Administrative & Financial Skills: learning about the cultural diversity and business environment in Belgium, administrative and legal requirements when starting an entrepreneurial activity, and – very importantly – funding opportunities for female entrepreneurs launching or growing their businesses;
Day 2- Business Skills: a hands-on business training session where participants discussed about vision and mission, identifying limiting beliefs, and worked on designing theirs businesses using the Lean methodology.
Day 3- Digital Skills: participants learned what are the digital tools they can use to launch and manage their online businesses; how open a webshop and how to use digital marketing to optimize their online presence.
The materials* used during the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp can be found below:
Administrative and Financial Skills materials:
- Cultural diversity in the business environment in BE and self-assessment, facilitated by Wendy Agyin, SheDIDIt
- Becoming a freelancer in Belgium, tips to optimize your taxes and a presentation of Accountable, an app that allows you to manage your accountancy on your own, facilitated by Heleen Willemsen, Accountable
- How to fund your start-up?, facilitated by Jasper Verreydt and Tanika Kenens (Funding landscape instrument Wallonia, Flanders, Brussels)
Business Skills materials:
- Business Shift Workbook, facilitated by Asanda Madikane, Shift Pivot
Digital skills materials:
- How to make an e-commerce website, facilitated by Liliana Carillo, CollectiveUP
- Digital marketing & Branding, facilitated by Jessica van Dop DeJesus, Dining Traveller
*The copyright of the materials belong to heir respective authors. No part of these materials may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form without the prior consent of the copyright holders, except in the case of brief quotations embodied permitted by copyright law.
- Free advice & support for entrepreneurs based in the Brussels Region: 1819 https://1819.brussels/en
- Assessment on what to consider before starting a business?
- 1819 Guide on Starting a Business and Formalities
- 1819 Guide on Growing Your Business
- 1819 Guide on Company Financing
- 1819 Guide on Subsidies for Entrepreneurs
- More Useful links for entrepreneurs in Belgium
The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Women of Diverse Cultural Backgrounds was organized as part of the Athena project – Approaches To valorise the High ENtrepreneuriAl potential of migrant women to contribute to their social and economic integration – a two-year project funded by the AMIF Program. The overall objective of the project is to contribute to the economic and social integration of migrant women in the EU society by improving the services of entrepreneurship support oriented to migrant women and creating a specific entrepreneurial path for them.
The project is implemented by a consortium of six partners and covers five European countries , and will directly benefit a 210 migrant women, it will increase the capacities of more than 35 professionals working in entrepreneurship support roles, it will create synergies with several organisations and it will finally intend to influence policies through a series of policy recommendations. Here you can find more about the project: https://athenaproject.net/