Project Promoting the Immigrant Entrepreneurship – PEI

CLUSTER: Innovative services and organisations focusing on migrants’ employability and work integration

START DATE: January 2009


CONTACTS de-empreendedorismo- imigrante-pe- 1;;

tailored individual approach, training

Project Promoting the Immigrant Entrepreneurship

whereRua Álvaro Coutinho 14, 1150-025 Lisbon, Portugal.


High Commission for Migrations, Office to Active Migrants in Portugal.

Immigrants that want to structure a business idea.


Support to structure and implement their business idea.

This project aims to encourage entrepreneurship in immigrant communities, especially those who live in the most vulnerable neighbourhoods. They help Immigrants develop personal, social and business management skills essential to the business creation, promote self-sufficiency and sustainability and facilitate connections with the entrepreneurship support programs already existing and carried by several entities. They provide business training, consulting, tailored individual business support sessions,workshops, meetings, and events in order to develop entrepreneurial skills.

why it is

It is interesting because of the highly tailored individual approach oriented towards the development of entrepreneurial skills and social inclusion. The group business training and individual support provided cover a wide range of topics/information within the area of entrepreneurship with emphasis on practical exercises.

Since the start in 2009, 1880 migrants participated in the project and about 120 of them opened their own business.
The success rate in 2014 was about 72% out of the 77 businesses opened between 2009 and 2013.


Legal Form:
PEI (Project Promoting the Immigrant Entrepreneurship) is an initiative established by ACM (High Commission for Migrations)

Service Description

Main Problem Addressed / Activity Sector:
The purpose to encourage the entrepreneurship by communities of immigrants, especially those who live in the most vulnerable neighbourhoods.
Immigrants that want to structure a credible business idea. PEI can be considered a flexible tool with capacity to adapt to different audiences, since it approaches transversal areas to any business idea or person.
Solution (Project/Service):
The project intends to provide different services. The promoter entities structure a specific training course to support the creation of new business. It is structured of a collective session once a week, in a total of 10 sessions (of 3 hours each) and individual sessions once a week. All the process considers the participant’s knowledge/experience and motivations.
At the end of the course they provide the attendees with a follow up support system that consist in individual meetings and eventual on-site support at the business facilities or meetings with other entities.
They also provide migrants attendees with two kind of documents. A certificate of attendance that confirms the presence and a letter of recommendation that focus on the maturity of the business idea. They offer also advice addressed to the participants whose business idea indicates to gather conditions to become a credible business, namely the attendants who received the Letter of Recommendation. This support has the following goals: restructure little aspects of the business idea, identify financial supports or others, support the business execution and guide in the business management.
The consulting services are structured as a one to one meeting prompted by a trainer that usually takes place during and after the courses. During this meeting the migrant explain to the trainer which are his/her necessities and specific requests. The training programme is based on practical dynamics and real process of a business construction. They also focus on process of capacitation and risk analysis, considering 3 elements:
• Business financial analyses;
• Entrepreneur and its exposure to risk;
• Family dimension and its exposure to risk.
The promoting entities must identify:
• A trainer, responsible for the training programme and consultancy/individual meetings;
• A local technician, responsible for the project organisation, advertisement, interviews with the candidates, identification of alternative solutions when the participants realise that they don’t have profile to continue, identification of complementary solutions (e.g. specific training course in the business area), statistical information and other administrative issues.
They are also provided with a free guide about the project implementation, (specially conceived for technicians and trainers) and a handbook “Dossier do Empreendedor” to be provided to the attendees (it contains business concepts). This document helps the participant knowing business concepts and informs them about several stages in the process of opening a business. The dossier also facilitates the written development of the business idea, since the participant can fill up different worksheets about the several issues related with the business and can discuss those issues with the trainer. This tool is also relevant to the trainer because it indicates how to structure the collective classes.


Main Milestones:
At present, PEI is an ACM’s activity, developed by the Migrant Entrepreneur Support Office (GAEM). Per year, ACM promotes 8 editions of the project.
Main difficulties/challenges:
The main difficulties that they face during the implementation of the programme are mostly related to the different ways and approach of that migrants in terms of developing a new business. Their countries of origin have different systems and rules and so they have to first understand the Portuguese legislation and the bureaucratic methods. The second main problem is strictly connected to the difficulties of communication in a new language. The last problem that they underlined is the access to finance (loans/microcredit) that is strictly connected to the acquisition of a regular status. They are especially mentioning those cases when migrants have a residence permit with the validity almost ending, not covering the period of the loan.
An important limit and challenge that must be faced in the implementation of the projects is to find the right trainer profile. The trainer must be a person capable of working with people coming from different contexts and with a heterogeneous background. It must also be a person with a good expertise in businesses (practical knowledge)..


PEI, as an ACM activity and a public measure, is financed by the state budget.
Stakeholders and Partners:
PEI has worked directly with many different promoting entities such as High Commission for Migration (National Support Centre for the Integration of Migrants Lisbon, National Support Centre for the Integration of Migrants North). Other organizations also developed many other actions with the support of the European Fund for the Integration of Third_Country Nationals and the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF).


Main Goals/challenges:
PEI deals with transversal issues to every kind of business. It has been presented to international students (sometimes creating specific groups). ACM is also starting the implementation of this methodology with refugee people. The aim is to spread the methodology and involve more stakeholders.
Critical Factors to manage this challenges:
PEI methodology always recommends, at local level, that the promoter entities identify partners and crucial entities that can be involved in the process of business creation. The relation with them should be direct and based on a continuous dialogue to minimize the reported difficulties by the participants. The partner institutions (formal or informal) could be involved in small activities (e.g. workshops about a specific issue; participate in the dissemination of the project) or just be aware of the project understanding migrant capabilities and potential in terms of employment.
Other relevant aspects that emerged during the project are:
• Face to face activities allow a better monitoring of the situation and a better knowledge about the real competences of the participant and how they can be applied in the business;
• Collective sessions allow the sharing of information between participants (experiences/different ways of doing the same thing/relevant information about businesses/partnerships/…).