The Social Entrepreneurship Index

Barriers and Opportunities in Cyprus

Migrant Integration through
Social Entrepreneurship

Case: Cyprus 🇨🇾

Cyprus has also experienced a significant rise in its migrant population in recent years, leading to a critical need for robust integration policies. Despite dedicated efforts by the government and various civil society organizations, barriers to successful integration persist within the country. These challenges encompass language barriers, limited access to gainful employment opportunities, and the nuanced complexities of cultural diversity. Traditional approaches to integration have often struggled to yield sustainable outcomes in Cyprus, prompting a reevaluation of strategies.

In this context, social entrepreneurship has emerged as a promising avenue for enhancing migrant integration in Cyprus. By leveraging business innovation for social impact, social entrepreneurship offers a unique approach to addressing the integration challenges faced by migrants. This policy brief aims to delve into the potential of social entrepreneurship as a means of fostering greater social cohesion and economic development in Cyprus, while also helping migrants overcome the hurdles they encounter during their journey toward full integration into Cypriot society.


The Think Social! consortium conducted desk research on migrant integration in Cyprus, compiling a range of data points that coalesced into the following findings:

Challenges in Migrant Entrepreneurship

The current state of entrepreneurship among migrants in Cyprus, including labor migrants, students, and asylum seekers, faces significant challenges, particularly for young entrepreneurs. Young third-country national (TCN) entrepreneurs encounter obstacles such as bureaucratic, procedural, political, legal, and cultural barriers when trying to establish businesses in Cyprus. While there have been some improvements in entrepreneurship in recent years, including tax incentives and programs by various organizations, there is a need for substantial enhancements to support the development of current and future entrepreneurs in Cyprus.

Attitudes towards migrants and refugees

Attitudes towards migrants in Cyprus are influenced by various factors, including meaningful contacts between the local population and refugees or migrants. While overall public sentiment may range from neutral to negative, there is a consistent endorsement among both Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots for refugees to integrate into the local society rather than being isolated in camps. However, concerns persist, primarily related to economic implications and criminality rates, along with apprehensions regarding Cyprus’ capacity to accommodate a large number of refugees and migrants. Despite these challenges, there is a positive trend in community engagement, with increased volunteering and donations to organizations assisting refugees.

Third-country nationals in Cyprus face barriers to traditional employment opportunities due to limited access to education and training. Thus, social entrepreneurship emerges as a valuable avenue for migrants to not only secure meaningful employment but also contribute positively to the local community and economy.

Main Figures

1 %
third-country nationals

out of 888,000 population were in Cyprus in 2020.

1 %
third-country nationals

has attained less than primary and lower secondary education.

1 %
third-country nationals

aged between 18 and 24 who are ‘Neither Employed nor in Education or Training’ (NEET).


Important Findings from the Focus Group in Nicosia

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I'm excited about the idea of social entrepreneurship. It's not just about business; it's about making a positive impact on our community. I want to be a part of that change.

Sylvie Enjouh Nzang

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I may not have experience in entrepreneurship, but I'm open to learning and doing my part. Social entrepreneurship seems like a meaningful path to explore.

Rana Hossen

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Social entrepreneurship is like a ray of hope for our society. We've faced so many challenges, and it's time to create solutions. I've seen the power of such initiatives through my NGO.

Mambo Claudette

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I've been thinking about starting my own company here. Social entrepreneurship sounds like a great way to contribute to Cyprus while pursuing my dreams.


Benefits of Social Entrepreneurship for Migrant Integration

Social entrepreneurship offers several significant benefits for migrant integration. It provides economic empowerment, enabling migrants to establish businesses and generate income while fostering skill development and self-sufficiency.

Through community engagement, migrants build relationships and cultural understanding, while improved language proficiency is a byproduct of running a business. Additionally, social entrepreneurship allows migrants to contribute positively to societal challenges, enhancing their sense of belonging and reducing reliance on social support systems, ultimately promoting financial independence.

Economic empowerment is a crucial aspect of social integration for migrants. It involves providing opportunities for migrants to access gainful employment or create businesses that allow them to generate income and become financially self-sufficient. Economic empowerment not only enhances the economic well-being of migrants but also contributes to their overall integration into the host society, as it enables them to support themselves and their families while actively participating in the local economy.

Skill development is a fundamental component of migrant integration. It encompasses the acquisition of essential skills and knowledge, such as language proficiency, vocational training, and entrepreneurial abilities. Skill development initiatives empower migrants by enhancing their employability, self-sufficiency, and capacity to contribute to the host society. These skills not only improve migrants’ economic prospects but also foster a sense of confidence and independence, enabling them to better navigate and engage in their new social and economic environment.

Community engagement plays a pivotal role in migrant integration. It involves active participation and interaction between migrants and the local community, fostering relationships and cultural understanding. Through community engagement, migrants become an integral part of their new society, connecting with neighbors, local organizations, and institutions. This involvement helps break down barriers, dispel stereotypes, and build a sense of belonging, contributing to a more cohesive and inclusive community where migrants can thrive and contribute their unique perspectives and experiences.

Language proficiency is a critical aspect of migrant integration. It entails the development of communication skills in the host country’s language, which is essential for effective interaction with the local community, accessing employment opportunities, and navigating daily life. Language proficiency not only facilitates practical aspects of integration but also enhances migrants’ confidence and ability to participate fully in society. By improving their language skills, migrants can overcome linguistic barriers, build meaningful connections, and adapt more successfully to their new environment, ultimately promoting a smoother and more inclusive integration process.

Positive impact refers to the beneficial contributions that migrants can make to their host society. By engaging in social entrepreneurship and addressing societal challenges, migrants enhance their sense of belonging and make valuable contributions to the community. This positive impact extends beyond economic benefits to encompass cultural enrichment, increased social cohesion, and the promotion of shared values. Migrants’ active involvement in addressing local issues and promoting social well-being fosters a sense of unity and shared responsibility within the host society, ultimately leading to more inclusive and harmonious communities.

Financial independence is a cornerstone of migrant integration. It involves migrants gaining the means to support themselves and their families through sustainable economic activities. Achieving financial independence through employment or entrepreneurship reduces reliance on social support systems, fostering self-sufficiency and dignity. Moreover, it empowers migrants to make choices about their lives and contributes to their overall well-being. Financially independent migrants are better equipped to participate in and contribute to the host society’s economy and social fabric, promoting a sense of autonomy and belonging in their new environment.

Policy Recommendations

Think Social consortium advice for policymakers in Cyprus.

Promote Awareness and Education

Implement comprehensive awareness campaigns and educational initiatives to introduce migrants and asylum seekers to social entrepreneurship concepts, while fostering collaboration with NGOs and community groups to deliver training and workshops that encompass essential entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy for both migrants and the local community.

Training and Capacity Building

Create tailored training programs catering to the unique requirements of migrant entrepreneurs, encompassing vital skills such as business planning, marketing, and networking. Forge partnerships with universities, vocational institutions, and NGOs to provide courses and certifications in social entrepreneurship, ensuring access to comprehensive education and skills development in this field.

Integration Through Social Entrepreneurship

Promote social integration through initiatives that foster social entrepreneurship, potentially through collaborations with existing migrant-led organizations and projects tackling societal issues. Additionally, explore the possibility of providing incentives, such as tax advantages or streamlined administrative procedures, to businesses actively involved in advancing social integration efforts.

Facilitate Access to Resources

Establish accessible hubs or centers to provide aspiring social entrepreneurs, including migrants, with easy access to vital resources such as information, mentorship, and funding opportunities. Concurrently, create a dedicated fund or grant program specifically tailored to bolster social entrepreneurship endeavors, with a particular focus on initiatives led by migrants.