Co-financed by the European Union, the ELYME Project (Entrepreneurial Labs for Young Migrants) is an entrepreneurship support programme for people from a migrant background permanently residing in the EU. The project’s aim is to assist them in developing their ideas, building the confidence and understanding to start up a business and, for those who are already established, to support it’s the growth and sustainability of their entrepreneurial project.
Although the ELYME project concluded after 24 months, the keen interest of the participants led to the prolongation of one of the project activities the ELYME Mentoring Circles. Going beyond the original remit of the project, these are currently being carried out by the Belgium project partner Bantani Education.
Due to the Covid19 restrictions, the ELYME project was delivered online, namely via Google Classroom and tailored Zoom sessions for the Mentoring Circles. In Belgium, the keen interest of a group of Zimbabwean women, from diverse professional backgrounds, resulted in the ELYME Mentoring Circles group who are still active. The participants’ willingness to share their experiences, progress and challenges with others has resulted in a heterogeneous but cohesive group.
Taking place every two weeks, ELYME Mentoring Circles involve participants introducing themselves and their projects. Subsequently, they exchange ideas and reflect on plans and skills, and brainstorm together on how to overcome challenges within their business projects. These interactions help them gain confidence and motivation while receiving constructive criticism and expanding their networks.
“Initially I didn’t know what to expect from the ELYME Mentoring Circles but now I can say I learnt a lot” said Tatenda Chibebe, group leader. “I learnt how to think strategically about my line of business, the products and the service. I also learnt how to use social media for business purposes and achieving my company’s objectives. I learnt how to develop comprehensive business plans and the importance of scanning the business environment. Through the ELYME Mentoring Circles, I got the guidance I needed to carry out a start-up business and further grow it with an informed mindset.”
While the time management of the Mentoring Circles can be challenging as the participants are all balancing working full-time and family commitments, the group is motivated to continue with the training and to complete the course.
For those people who have often left a stable job and a solid education in search of new opportunities in a foreign country, establishing themselves as an entrepreneur can seem like an uphill battle. By bringing just a few such people together, the ELYME Mentoring Circles have been able to help all the participants to share and grow together. We hope that the experiences gained will turn into lifelong skills, and the connections made become colleagues for life. Bantani wishes to thank all of the participants who have joined us, the group leaders, and the members of the Bantani team for making this possible.