Inform. Connect. Innovate

CLUSTER: Organisations providing innovative services to migrants

START DATE: January 2012



entrepreneurship, hospitality, networking, refugees, social support

whereFrance, United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Canada


A community of citizens.

Refugees, Asylum seekers and Newcomers.


Integration (social and economic) and networking.

SINGA creates opportunities for dialogue and understanding between refugees and their host communities and enables them to meet and cooperate.
They promote language and cultural exchange and provide support to refugees who wish to create businesses, organizations, and cultural or artistic projects by connecting them with relevant people and organizations in the host country to help them in developing their ideas. They provide them with language lessons, fundraising support and administrative and legal support. The services are available in 35 languages.

why it is

SINGA offers a wide range of support activities from hospitality and socio-economic integration, including entrepreneurship support, to language and cultural sensitivity.


Team and competences:
SINGA is a network of 8 organisations located in: Belgium, Germany, Quebec, France, Italy, the UK, Switzerland. The first SINGA organisation was born in France in 2012 as a result of the efforts of three young French entrepreneurs. All three original co-founders had had experiences in working with migrants and refugees in International organisations and had academic backgrounds ranging from Business and Economics to Politics and International Relations. Concerning SINGA Italia, the team has a background in development, having worked for international NGOs and grant-giving foundations. Their academic background is in History, Politics, Economics and Business. The team at SINGA is mainly involved in projects for refugees and migrants. We are involved in a series of projects that range from business incubators for migrant entrepreneurs, a co-working space, a social enterprise selling services to newcomers and a housing project for refugees.
Legal Form:
SINGA is registered as an association

Service Description

Main Problem Addressed / Activity Sector:
The main problem the project aims to solve is that of social and economic integration, with a particular focus on: connection with hosting communities, access to the labour market and enterprise creation. SINGA’s value proposition is to offer spaces, services and platforms to newcomers, empowering them to create a network with locals that will support their integration in the host society, enable the creation of social and economic innovations and advance towards the achievement of truly integrated societies.
Some examples of solutions offered by SINGA across Europe and North America on economic inclusion and entrepreneurship are:
Professional Mentoring Program – Italy and Germany
– La Fabrique des Entrepreneurs – Kiwanda
– SINGA Factory (Switzerland): a business incubator for refugee entrepreneurs in collaboration with ImpactHub and Migros
– Ideas in Motion (Germany): incubator for newcomers entrepreneurs started by Singa Deutschland and Project Re:Start
– SINGA 360 (Quebec): incubator which as the moment is supporting three refugee entrepreneurs
On the cultural sensitivity aspect, SINGA runs a series of programme:
– The Buddy programme: with more than 1500 people signed up, the programme has created 750 pairs, composed of refugees and locals, connected based on their common passions.
– The CALM Platform: A collaborative housing solution where people make their house available to temporarily host a refugee. It has 1729 people registered on the platform and 380 cohabitations of refugees and hosts have successfully started and concluded.
Trait d’Union: a collaborative media outlet which represents the SINGA community .
The main target group of SINGA are refugees which have been granted asylum status, asylum seekers and migrants in general. We also consider the host community entrepreneurs, professionals and civil society in general as our primary target, acting as an intermediary between them to facilitate refugees’ and asylum seekers’ integration. They see integration as a process of mutual understanding that can’t happen without the involvement of both parties, but also the host community. The secondary target are all the stakeholders working with migrants, refugees and newcomers. SINGA focuses on the creation of best practices and knowledge sharing platforms that will allow all interested parties to replicate and scale its approaches. This includes NGOs, policy makers, public institutions and private companies.
Solution (Project/Service):
SINGA identifies new opportunities and mobilises civil society to create innovation. We support newcomers in their journey towards socio-economic integration through sustainable programmes, focusing on their concrete, positive potential and on their ability to enter the labour market, launch a business or become social entrepreneurs themselves. SINGA offers the opportunity for host community members and newcomers to meet, learn from each other and exchange experiences. By building on the interests and skills of the community, all members are able to contribute to the creation of a truly inclusive society through a variety of innovative programs, enabling the social and professional exchange of information, ideas and networks.
The service is delivered through a combined online/offline offer: users can register online to become part of the SINGA Community and then access services offered in various locations, both public or owned by SINGA.
SINGA combines a number of actions directed at supporting migrant entrepreneurship and the integration of newcomers. First and foremost are networking and awareness-raising activities. In designing networking programmes, SINGA does not differentiate between social and economic integration; in fact, networking is a fundamental component of both aspects. In conducting awareness raising activities instead, SINGA’s approach is to shed light, among the host community, of the issues faced by refugees’ and asylum seekers’ while at the same time highlighting the expertise, both entrepreneurial and professional, of newcomer communities. Furthermore, SINGA conducts outreach activities within newcomer communities to showcase the opportunities SINGA provides to support them. In order to implement these activates, SINGA works in several different languages; this kind of cultural sensitivity has become a critical asset of the organisation. In addition to offering direct support through its networking and awareness programmes, SINGA connects refugees and asylum seekers with organisations that can support their needs in other areas (i.e. legal advice, individual business support, mentoring, access to finance, facilities provision, and language support). Though these services are not directly provided by SINGA, its role as a connector and enabler becomes critical to support business creation, as the organisation is able to collect and leverage a vast database of professionals and individuals from a wide range of fields. The idea behind this kind of “non-intrusive” approach is to support refugees and asylum seekers to operate and thrive independently from the organisation.


Main Milestones:
SINGA started in 2012 in Paris, founded by three young french citizens that wanted to change the way in which socio-economic integration was conceptualised and implemented; they were convinced that the “social aid” or “welfarist” approach of many NGOs and public institutions would not lead to an effective economic integration of newcomers. Their intuition was to facilitate the creation of spaces where newcomers and locals could meet, and this led to the launch of the first programme, Buddy, where locals and newcomers were connected based on shared interests, passions and goals. In the beginning, the co-founders of SINGA intended for the organisation to become a bank where refugee entrepreneurs could obtain financing for their businesses. In fact, the name SINGA was chosen because it means “loan” in Bambara, a west-African language. However, they quickly realised that there was no real need to re-invent banks and crowdfunding platforms; what was needed was someone who could connect refugees to these services as this approach was more efficient and effective. Thus, SINGA was born. They also discovered that SINGA means “connection” in Linagala, a language spoken in northern Congo, and it immediately became the new motto.
Concerning SINGA Italia, the organisation as officially launched in September 2017.
Main difficulties/challenges:
The main challenge is cultural. Continuing political debate surrounding newcomers and refugees in target countries is often hijacked by more extreme positions, which leads to a negative perception of newcomers and the erosion of social and political capital available for implementing SINGA’s approach. A second challenge for SINGA is that it is still a relatively new organisation, with different approaches being tested in different countries which will require a high degree of coordination and a significant number of staff to meet all its growing requirements.


Some of SINGA’s programmes are free for refugees and migrants and are funded by both public and private donors. However, members of our community can pay to access certain services offered by SINGA. For instance, they sell workshops and consultancy services to our partners from the private sector; they also offer access to entrepreneurial support services and a co-working space. In France, SINGA has created a limited liability company called Waya, 100% owned by SINGA, whose revenues will be reinvested into SINGA allowing for long-term sustainability and reducing dependency from donations.
Employees, Stakeholders and Partners:
SINGA has developed a project-based methodology which support newcomers wanting to create businesses, organisations, and cultural and artistic projects, by connecting them with interested locals and other organisations in the host country that can help them develop their ideas and business. The benefits of this approach as that its focus on participation and co-creation allows both newcomers and locals to take ownership of the issues surrounding integration, overcoming cultural barriers and creating real value for society and the economy as a whole. It bypassess the “social handout” approach to facilitate pro-active, positive approaches to integration, ultimately leading to significant cost-savings for public institutions and injecting dynamism and innovation in the labour market. The large network of beneficiaries reached by SINGA includes newcomers, locals, professional networks, private companies, NGOs and public institutions. SINGA represents a network spread across 8 countries: France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, Quebec, Morocco, UK. The SINGA global community gathers more than 20,000 people – refugees, migrants, second generation migrants, professionals, students, non-profit organisations, private sector companies, universities. The current market for organisations working on integration is saturated at the low-end, with many organisations and government institutions offering immediate assistance to migrants and refugees and few focused on longer term services for integration. However, there has been a marked increase in the number of organisations, ranging from NGOs to social enterprises, which are now offering higher-end services and opportunities to newcomers, focusing on proactive integration approaches. This means that SINGA has the opportunity of engaging with a large numbers of new potential partners. In the delivery of its services, SINGA relies on a number of partners, from the non-profit and corporate sector. An example is AirBnB, which offers the opportunity of using the homes registered on its system to temporarily house refugees which are part of the SINGA community. Another example is Coexist, a partner in La Fabrique des Entrepreneurs (SINGA Frances’ Incubator) which provides critical infrastructure and back office support. SINGA also partners with media outlets, such as the newspaper “La Presse” in Quebec, to conduct its awareness raising campaigns. Other key partners of SINGA are those organisations that offer newcomers additional services, such as BNP Paribas, which offers them dedicated banking services.


Main Goals/challenges:
The critical factor is continuing to build positive narratives around newcomers, showcasing successes, influencing civil society, opening up spaces for encounters and debate and extending the network of like minded partners and stakeholders. The provision of services targeted to newcomers will also allow SINGA to propose solutions complementary to institutional ones, relieving the pressure on governments to provide short-term solutions and spend public resources on sensitive issues.
Do not be afraid to push boundaries with your approach, be brave and bold! Trying to get all the answers right at the beginning means opening up to the potential of negative answers, something very likely when working on such delicate subject matters. If you leave the door open for people to question whether refugees should be welcome or not, you are seeding the fruits of a potentially divided society. Instead, simply realise that refugees are here and they are each their own individual with their unique talents. So the question becomes, how do we create common spaces where they can express these talents and merge with the host community? Change the angle of approach to the issue of migration. Asylum should not be a problem to deal with, it is a solution for million of individuals. Asylum seekers do not come empty handed and their experiences and talents can really strengthen society! It’s essential that the public and the private sector grant access to their services to help cope with emergency situations but it’s even more important that they invest in the future together. Institutions need to take a long-term approach to integration; they should view asylum seekers as a resource, as individuals with unique talents and perspectives that can enrich society. It is both the right thing to do and the most profitable.