The ENEU project partners have curated a series of video interviews and articles featuring successful immigrant entrepreneurs. These inspiring stories have been collected to encourage and motivate learners in entrepreneurship training. By showcasing the real-life experiences of individuals who have overcome challenges and achieved success, this collection of interviews serves as a powerful tool for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Mai Phan, the Founder of PropL
Vietnamese entrepreneur in Norway
Mai is the founder of PropL, an early-stage B2B HR tech start-up in Oslo, Norway. Originally from Vietnam, she took her Bachelor's in Business Administration in the U.S and Master's in Finance in the UK. Mai has lived and worked in Norway in the past 12 years. Her experience ranges from research and analysis in the power and gas sector, teaching young children and adults dance and fitness to entrepreneurship, technology and innovation. Mai is passionate about social impact and sustainability.
Her start-up, PropL, builds job simulations to help job seekers find career and jobs that suit their skills and interests. Their vision is to reduce unemployment in Norway and combat biases and discrimination in a recruitment process. PropL has received grants from Innovation Norway and Oslo Municipality, and recently launched their Beta.
In her start-up journey, Mai has learned many valuable lessons, but most importantly, learned about herself: her strengths, weaknesses and passion, and that failure is a part of the journey - you either win or you learn something new.
Her advice to aspiring founders: believe in yourself and surround yourself with people who can inspire and support you. Not everyone would support your entrepreneurial journey. It will be tough and you will meet a lot of obstacles, so be sure to have the right support network around you.
Dawda Barry, co-founder of GIOCHERENDA, Gambian entrepreneur in Italy
Giocherenda is first and foremost a social project that aims to promote the work and social inclusion of migrants. It is a shop completely created and managed by migrants, who work with materials (mainly African materials) and create unique artworks and products, including bags and clothes but also educational games and other small objects.
Giocherenda also raises awareness among the public, working with schools, youth centres and associations of adults in order to create a citizenship that is sensitive and attentive to the needs of all. Giocherenda is located in Palermo, Sicily.
Fitim, founder in the field of IT services,
Kosovar entrepreneur in Austria
Hello, my name is Fitim and I am a refugee from Kosovo. When I came to Austria, my first goal was to learn the language to be able to communicate well. I attended a few language courses and learned the German language, both written and spoken.
To start my own business in the field of IT services, I attended several events. I started to work out a plan and set my goals, and strategy and build up a financial cushion. Due to the bureaucracy and official regulations in my new home country, the start of my self-employment was somewhat delayed and involved a lot of official channels and applications.
My first clients were of course from my community. In order not to limit myself to a rather small customer base from my community, I was in regular contact with companies and other competitors from the IT sector. In the beginning, it was also a cultural change for me, as my Austrian customers place a lot of value on punctuality and accuracy, and due to the dialect spoken here, I still had hurdles in communication at the beginning.
In the IT industry, it is important to always keep your finger on the pulse of the times, which means that you have to read a lot of relevant technical articles regularly to be able to offer innovative solutions. Through contact and exchange with colleagues and competitors, you also learn a lot from each other.
Mustafa, founder of Velos Youth,
Syrian entrepreneur in Greece
Mustafa is the CEO of Velos Youth, a non-profit Youth organization based in the city of Athens, Greece. His journey to this leadership position is a testament to resilience, and a commitment to making the world a better place.
Originally from war-torn Syria, Mustafa's life took a remarkable turn when he arrived in Greece as a refugee. His personal experiences were marked by the challenges and uncertainties that so many refugees face - homelessness, displacement, and the daunting task of starting anew in a foreign land. However, these hardships ignited a determination within him to ensure that others wouldn't have to endure the same struggles.
His journey started when Velos Youth was founded in May 2017, he was not the founder, but a volunteer. Mustafa started as a cultural mediator and liaison officer, a role that would later become central to his mission. In this capacity, he built bridges between the refugee community and the organisation, helping individuals access much-needed support and resources.
Between May 2017 and February 2019, when he assumed the role of CEO, Mustafa embarked on a journey of continuous learning and self-improvement. He dedicated himself to personal and professional growth, acquiring essential skills to lead the organisation effectively.
Etinosa Erevbenagie-Johnbull, Co-founder of Generation for Change CY, Nigerian entrepreneur in Cyprus
Etinosa is the Co-founder and Managing Director of Generation for Change CY, a grassroots non-profit organization based in Nicosia, Cyprus. His journey as an entrepreneur in Cyprus is inspiring considering his migration background and early life experiences and challenges. Etinosa’s story is a valuable example worth telling.
Born in Nigeria, Etinosa migrated to Athens, Greece at a young age. His early life experiences shaped his views around activism, social inclusion and social justice and motivated him to engage in social activities focusing on human rights, justice, and solidarity. A Psychology graduate from the University of Nicosia, Cyprus who is currently pursuing his master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, Etinosa is an interesting and inspiring example of a person who is committed to social change through advocating and motivating others to become active citizens and become the change they wish to see in society.
Generation for Change CY, the NGO he co-founded and is managing in Cyprus, is a non-profit organization that is built on exactly those goals: a fair, diverse, and inclusive society, equitable access to opportunities for everyone, social change, support to vulnerable and marginalised communities. With his long experience in human rights activism and social change, Etinosa and the Generation for Change CY received in 2023 the ‘Outstanding Social Contribution Award’ from the School of Humanities and Social Science of the University of Nicosia Cyprus for his work at the Generation for Change CY and the Democracy Award from Politeia.
His cultural background, life experiences and challenges he has faced in a new country as a person with a different cultural background, shaped his understanding and work as an entrepreneur and brought unique perspectives and new, deeper understandings around cultural diversity to entrepreneurship, encouragement, guidance, and connection through difference.