The migrant crisis has been one of the most prominent issues faced by European Union. I think its crucial to find change-makers who are trying to create significant social impact by training migrants to become competitive work force for EU. I had a chance to meet Yannick Le Guern & Laura Petrache and ask them few questions about their initiative MIGRANT INTEGRATION LAB which aims to resolve such complex issue. I hope readers would be able to draw some inspiration and insights to follow their path.
- The project seems to be very unique, can you share with us about what were the key motivators to pursue Migrant Lab?
Yes, indeed it actually is and not seems to be . As I encountered some of the issues that migrants are encountering now days and after an experience in Syrian ground, I wanted to build together with Yannick the co-founder of MIGRANT INTEGRATION LAB, a global European device permitting the sustainable integration of migrants and ethnic minorities. For us a welcoming culture is one that contributes by helping migrants, newcomers and their families overcome obstacles in all areas of life, while also providing business start-up assistance and targeted employment. This is why we facilitate and foster economic and social integration of migrants by supporting them in the development of new business initiatives.
- How is EU supporting your lab? Especially given the status quo of refugee crises in Europe and its implications on shaping political agenda of member states?
We need to understand that the EU has no power concerning national actions in terms of political agenda …it can play a role of advocacy and of course endorse some of the actions. The problem is that in France most of the actions concerning migrants’ are neither aligned, nor sustainable and a real policy of integration is not yet implemented. This is why at local level, in France we are providing a transnational framework. For me integration is a matter of “belonging and becoming”, it takes time but I think that the future of Europe is bright and France something to say about it.
In our opinion, the future of the European Union will be sustainable or it will not be at all. In order to achieve a sustainable future, a change is needed in terms of policies. Integration processes are too complicated to locate policies in one place alone. It is necessary to distinguish between levels of governance and formulate policy responses where they are needed; seize opportunities where they arise or originate. The transnational framework can be the answer as it gives policymakers a new lens with which to develop innovative public programs, and public-private partnerships across borders.
- Can you give us some concrete examples about the impact you have been able to make so far?
Yes of course, By supporting migrant and social entrepreneurship we enable others in the wider community to recognize the contributions which migrants bring and this is a very important issue. We are providers of a relational basis for resolving any difficulties and conflicts that may arise in the process of integration.In fact we are creating the best conditions for people who arrive in Europe to be innovating entrepreneurs, change makers as to act and create value by:
· Empowering migrants by building confidence, skills, access to opportunities and developing their networks with others and diaspora.
· Promoting trust and good relations within neighborhoods, e.g. through welcoming initiatives, mentoring, etc.
· Creating additional ways of recognizing newcomers’ qualifications, training and/or professional experience
· Developing constructive intercultural dialogue and thoughtful public discourse
· Promoting a balanced gender representation, through awareness raising, information campaigns and capacity-building
· Helping them to implement their livelihood or entrepreneurial projects
- What are the 3 key challenges which you are facing to implement it? Perhaps you can also enlist what also keeps you inspired to move ahead amidst challenges?
In terms of challenges, the most important ones that we are still facing are in France. The fact that the initiative came behalf Civil Society members had encountered difficulties concerning institutional actors in France, however the European and international support was very strong. What keeps us going is that we lead the change .Our initiative differs from other existing initiatives because it has the particularity to implement a sustainable integration process by means of global device of integration; this is favoring the responsibility, the autonomy and the economical rapid integration by means of entrepreneurship projects. Our device is profoundly democratic, it is creating intercultural dialogue within a bidirectional process involving migrants and receiving communities but also creating social and societal innovation, having as result a more vibrant and cohesive society.
- From your experience with migrant lab, how do you see the role of organizations like universities, businesses, entrepreneurs and NGO play a crucial role in economic empowerment of migrants?
In our Lab, we bring together diverse stakeholders that represent refugee communities, academic institutions, private and state institutions, entrepreneurs and investors who are co-creating an enabling environment to develop tangible and sustainable solutions, responding to the multidimensional challenges of migrant crisis, helping in effect to build inclusive communities.In our opinion, Global Competitiveness can be expanded through a multi-lingual, multi-cultural workforce and the revitalization of declining communities can be achieved through the contributions of migrant families working in tandem with their native-born neighbors, these are few of the reason of empowering migrants to successful. Also, by cultivation a thriving ecosystem for social innovation and more sustainable, equitable, and inclusive communities we also help refugees and migrants socialize.
As both Yannick and I we are both entrepreneurs,I do think that the way we work – and the way we think, trans-nationally, trans-lingually and trans-culturally – aligns well with a sustainable future, in particular, with our view of migration as a resource …a cultural and economic one!
Click on MIGRANT INTEGRATION LAB for more information.