The Social Entrepreneurship Index

Barriers and Opportunities in Germany

Migrant Integration through
Social Entrepreneurship

Case: Germany 🇩🇪

Migrant integration is a crucial aspect of social cohesion and economic development in host countries. In recent years, Germany has faced significant challenges in integrating its growing migrant population. To address this issue, social entrepreneurship has emerged as a promising approach that combines business innovation with social impact. This policy brief aims to explore the potential of social entrepreneurship as a means of migrant integration in Germany.

Germany has experienced a significant influx of migrants in recent years, resulting in an urgent need for effective integration policies. Despite efforts made by the government and civil society organizations, barriers to integration persist, including language barriers, limited access to employment opportunities, and cultural differences. Traditional integration measures have often fallen short of achieving sustainable outcomes.


The Think Social! consortium’s desk research on migrant integration in Germany has gathered several data points, which after the analysis crystallized into the following conclusions:


Self-employment is one of the ways to integrate into a new society economically. In 2018, there were 275,000 fewer self-employed people without a migrant background than in 2005 in Germany. Men make up the majority (2/3) of self-employed persons with a migration background. On the down side, the lack of business education and language barriers in starting an enterprise, stop migrants from being more active in freelancing.


Depending on the definitional criteria, there are between 2,000 to 70,000 social enterprises registered in Germany. Yet, no specific legislation on social enterprises exists in Germany. Consequently, there is no common understanding nor approach by public institutions towards the regulation of social enterprises. Migrants are unaware of the possibility to combine public good economical profit, hence, refer to a traditional way of business.

Third-country-nationals in Germany are at risk of being locked out of traditional employment due to barriers of access to education, therefore social entrepreneurship is especially valuable for migrants to access quality employment.

Main Figures

1 %
third-country nationals

out of 83 million population were in Germany 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 Erfurt

Social entrepreneurship is a very necessary entrepreneurial form since is in direct connection to the community needs and tries to solve a particular societal problem.

Tatiana Michan

Among the competences that are most relevant to start an enterprise in Germany is being persistent and patient since starting an entrepreneurial project takes around 3 to 5 years.

Bruna Silva

I definitely need to need to acquire more skills and knowledge to develop as a social entrepreneur. It's not much offered on that topic in Germany for migrants.

Elisey Kitsis

Starting a business in Germany is a indeed a challenge, I've tried. Now I'm on educational path and looking for other opportunities to engage and promote my culture.

Shymaa Hammad

Entrepreneurship is a way to express yourself. My photography job is my passion and I'm extremely happy to also bring positive change into the community.

Naomi Valdés

So far I have only participated in the TASK4COME program with CGE and Platform e.V., but I'm willing now to engage in more.

Victor Murillo

Benefits of Social Entrepreneurship for Migrant Integration

Social entrepreneurship brings numerous benefits to migrant integration, especially in small and middle-sized towns in rural Germany.

It facilitates economic development, social inclusion, and skill development while addressing local challenges and promoting cultural exchange. By leveraging the potential of social entrepreneurship, rural towns can harness the strengths and talents of migrants to create more vibrant and inclusive communities.

Social entrepreneurship can stimulate economic development in small towns by creating new businesses and employment opportunities. By supporting migrant entrepreneurs and social enterprises, small towns can tap into the skills, talents, and entrepreneurial potential of migrants. This can lead to the establishment of new ventures, the growth of local industries, and the generation of income and tax revenues, ultimately contributing to the economic vitality of the town.

Social entrepreneurship initiatives can provide migrants with opportunities for skill development and capacity building. Through training programs, mentorship, and vocational support, social enterprises can equip migrants with the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive in the local labor market. By enhancing their employability and fostering entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship contributes to the long-term integration and self-sufficiency of migrants in small towns.

Rural German towns often have close-knit communities, and social entrepreneurship can foster social inclusion by promoting interactions and collaborations between migrants and local residents. Social enterprises can serve as platforms for cross-cultural exchange, enabling individuals from diverse backgrounds to connect, share experiences, and build relationships. By breaking down social barriers and fostering a sense of community, social entrepreneurship helps create a more cohesive and inclusive society.

Rural Germany often face specific challenges related to employment, service provision, and community development. Social entrepreneurship can address these challenges by offering innovative solutions tailored to the local context. Migrant entrepreneurs, with their unique perspectives and experiences, can identify and address gaps in the market or social services, leading to the creation of enterprises that provide products or services that meet the needs of the community.

Social entrepreneurship promotes cultural exchange and appreciation of diversity. Migrant entrepreneurs bring their cultural heritage, traditions, and perspectives into their businesses, which can enhance the cultural fabric of small towns. This exposure to different cultures and ideas can foster intercultural understanding, challenge stereotypes, and promote a more inclusive and tolerant society.

Social enterprises led by migrants can contribute to the branding and tourism potential of small towns. By highlighting local culture, traditions, and products through their businesses, migrant entrepreneurs can attract visitors and tourists interested in experiencing authentic and diverse offerings. This, in turn, can boost the local economy, create jobs, and strengthen the town’s identity and reputation.

Policy Recommendations

Think Social consortium advice for policymakers in Germany.

Foster Collaboration

The German government should encourage collaboration between social entrepreneurs, migrant organizations, and local communities. This can be achieved through the establishment of incubation programs, funding initiatives, and networking events that facilitate knowledge exchange and partnerships.

Enhance Support Structures

Adequate support structures, such as mentorship programs and business development services, are essential for the growth and sustainability of social enterprises. The government should invest in capacity-building initiatives that provide social entrepreneurs with the necessary skills and resources.

Support Access to Funding

Access to funding is crucial for the success of social enterprises. The government should establish financial support mechanisms, such as grants, loans, and tax incentives, specifically targeted at social enterprises focusing on migrant integration.

Promote Research and Evaluation

The government should encourage research and evaluation to assess the impact of social entrepreneurship on migrant integration. This data-driven approach will enable policymakers to refine integration strategies and allocate resources effectively.