The Social Entrepreneurship Index

Barriers and Opportunities in Greece

Migrant Integration through
Social Entrepreneurship

Case: Greece 🇬🇷

The substantial influx of migrants in recent years has posed significant social and economic challenges for Greece. Despite the government’s efforts to implement integration measures, it has become evident that innovative approaches are required to effectively tackle the multifaceted issues faced by migrants. Social entrepreneurship emerges as a promising avenue to address these challenges by fostering inclusion, economic empowerment, and social cohesion among migrants in Greece.

Social entrepreneurship holds great potential in empowering migrants and promoting their integration into Greek society. By leveraging entrepreneurial principles and a focus on social impact, social entrepreneurship initiatives can provide migrants with the tools and resources necessary to overcome barriers and establish sustainable livelihoods. These initiatives offer opportunities for skills training, access to capital, and support for entrepreneurial ventures, enabling migrants to become economically self-sufficient and actively contribute to the local economy. 

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

History of Social Economy

In Greece, the social economy was officially established in 2011, and the “Social Economy Register” indicates that as of October 2019, there are 1,148 active social enterprises. According to the national report of social enterprises in Europe released in 2019, Greece has set SCE as a form of social entrepreneurship, the integration SCEs is divided into two categories, SCES for vulnerable groups and SCES for “special” people.

Migrant Entrepreneurship is in decline

Since the early 1980s, Greece has been transformed from a country of sending migrants into a host country for immigrants and asylum seekers. Some of them treat Greece as a transit country and they then continue their travel to reach wealthier EU countries, while others see in Greece their permanent destination and try to set their lives there. In addition to refugees, Greece receives labour migrants, mainly from Eastern European and Balkan countries since the 1990s.

Yet, In contrast to the increasing entrepreneurship rates among migrants in many Western countries, the situation in Greece presents a different picture. The available data indicate that migrants engaged in self-employment as entrepreneurs account for only 6.5% of the total, while natives hold a significantly larger share of 24% (Marchand and Siegel, 2014).

In terms of women's employment in Greece, Albanians, Bulgarians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Romanians, Russians, and Filipinos have a significant presence. Domestic employment is estimated to account for more than 50% of the employment of the entire female migrant population, except for Romanians and Bulgarians employed in both agriculture and tourism.

Main Figures

0 %
third-country nationals
were reported to suffer from unemployment (Eurostat, 2019).
refugees applied
for asylum service in 2019 (Asylum Information database, 2019).
social enterprises
in Greece (National Report of Social Enterprises in Europe, 2019).

Important Findings from the Focus Group

I am originally from Cuba and have been living in Athens, Greece for the last 3 years. I'm currently working on an upcycling project hub, which is some kind of business with a social impact. We use a hub to donate old things as resources and sell new “old” things, we design and create almost exclusively by upcycling. But still I don't exactly see myself as an entrepreneur.


I come from Tehran, Iran and has been living in Greece for the last year and 3 months. I am currently unemployed but my very recent working experience, while in Athens, was working as a cashier. To improve my situation, I'm thinking of collaborating on an entrepreneurial project, that will can the opportunity to un-employed women to produce artisanal goods including Persian carpets, ceramics, textiles and wooden artifacts and to promote their creations through social media and bazaars.


I come from Iran, been living in Greece for the last 5 years, and I'm currently working part-time and volunteers for a NGO. I am not fully aware of what social entrepreneurship really is. I am very keen in the idea of the ‘common good’ but feel under-skilled and unready for this.


Benefits of Social Entrepreneurship for Migrant Integration in Greece

Social entrepreneurship combines entrepreneurship and social impact to address migrants’ needs, fostering self-sufficiency, inclusion, and community development. It aligns with the goals of migrant integration.

Economic Empowerment

Social entrepreneurship enables migrants to create their own businesses and generate income, contributing to their economic empowerment and reducing their reliance on social welfare systems.

Skills Development and Integration

Engaging in social entrepreneurship provides migrants with opportunities to develop entrepreneurial skills, enhance their employability, and integrate into the Greek labor market. Training programs and mentorship initiatives can help migrants acquire business acumen and cultural competencies.

Social Inclusion and Community Engagement

Social entrepreneurship encourages active participation and interaction between migrants and the local community. By establishing businesses that address local needs or societal challenges, migrants can contribute to social inclusion, promote cultural exchange, and build bridges between different communities.

Job Creation and Economic Growth

Social enterprises established by migrants have the potential to create employment opportunities for both migrants and Greek residents. This job creation stimulates economic growth, contributes to local economies, and fosters social cohesion.

Innovation and Cultural Diversity

Migrant-led social enterprises bring diverse perspectives, ideas, and cultural backgrounds to the entrepreneurial landscape in Greece. This diversity fuels innovation, creativity, and the development of unique products and services that cater to a broader market.

Policy Recommendations

Think Social consortium advice for policymakers in Greece.

Establish a supportive ecosystem for social entrepreneurship by providing access to resources, mentorship programs, and incubation centers specifically designed for migrant entrepreneurs. This support system should offer guidance on business registration, access to finance, networking opportunities, and language and cultural training.

Develop training programs and capacity-building initiatives that focus on entrepreneurial skills, financial management, marketing strategies, and cultural competence. These programs should be tailored to the specific needs of migrant entrepreneurs and delivered in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, such as business associations, NGOs, and educational institutions.

Foster partnerships between financial institutions, philanthropic organizations, and government agencies to provide affordable and accessible financing options for migrant entrepreneurs. This can include microcredit programs, low-interest loans, and grants specifically targeted at supporting social entrepreneurship ventures led by migrants.

Encourage collaboration between migrant entrepreneurs, local entrepreneurs, and community organizations to foster knowledge sharing, exchange of best practices, and collaborative projects. Facilitate networking events, business forums, and platforms where migrant entrepreneurs can connect with potential partners, customers, and mentors.

Streamline and simplify bureaucratic processes related to business registration, licensing, and permits to reduce barriers for migrant entrepreneurs. Develop clear guidelines and procedures that are easily accessible and available in multiple languages to ensure transparency and ease of compliance.

Launch awareness campaigns to promote the positive contributions of migrant entrepreneurs and raise public awareness about the benefits of social entrepreneurship for migrant integration. Highlight success stories and showcase the economic and social impact created by migrant-led social enterprises.

Collaborate closely with local authorities to align policies, initiatives, and support mechanisms for migrant integration through social entrepreneurship. Develop partnerships that facilitate access to local markets, public procurement opportunities, and contracts for social enterprises led by migrants.

Establish mechanisms for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of policies and programs supporting migrant-led social entrepreneurship. Regularly assess the impact of these initiatives on migrant integration, economic growth, and social cohesion, and use the findings to inform policy adjustments and improvements.

Further Literature


This report explores migrant women entrepreneurship in Greece focusing on various aspects of employment, the business sectors they are involved in, as well as the needs, difficulties and motivations with respect to their entrepreneurship.