How the platform started

The arrival of particularly high numbers of refugees to the Netherlands in 2013 boosted refugees as a societal and highly discussed issue (Bakker, 20151). Currently, there are many social initiatives to help refugees, local governments are experimenting with new approaches to integration, and much needed academic research is conducted on this topic (Klaver, 20162). Due to the influx of people from Syria and Eritrea, the number of asylum applications has risen sharply in the Netherlands. In 2014, 26,000 refugees came to the Netherlands. Half of this group has granted a temporary residence status (Bakker, 2015). Most of these refugees come from Syria and Eritrea, are relatively young (between 18 to 39 years old) and willing and able to work (Kuiper et al., 20163). Yet, research shows that many immigrants in Dutch society struggle to find employment while this is a key factor in successful integration (Bakker, 2015). Moreover, the findings of the CBS report ‘Redenen van in- en uitstroom WWB’ suggests that status holders are struggling to find employment in Dutch society and start their own enterprises (CBS, 2014). In the current business environment, several problems are limiting the access to entrepreneurial pathways for status holders. For instance, a majority of status holders is not aware of the possibilities of support with entrepreneurial ambitions (Lysias Consulting Group, 20184). Therefore, this group frequently experiences barriers to get financial support for starting their businesses (Lysias Consulting Group, 2018). Moreover, by having conversations with local stakeholders in the field such as the end-users and the social initiatives, we revealed that the current support given by Dutch social initiatives does not always fulfil status holders’ needs. In sum, this project investigated the societal challenge for enterprising status holders and contributes to a practical solution in order to connect existing Dutch social initiatives and young legal refugees (status holders) who want to start a business and enter the job market.

About us

This platform was started by four VU students who participated in The Boardroom Program 2017-2018. During the academic year 2017-2018, the VU Refugee Academy gave these students the assignment to come up with a creative and practical solution to map social initiatives in the Netherlands. The VU Refugee Academy aims to connect existing academic, professional and local knowledge to bring practice and research closer together. Collectively, these different forms of knowledge help people to think about the necessary societal conditions for making integration of refugees inclusive in the long term.

Brilliant Minds is currently developing and hosting this platform. The content of the website is currently maintained by the Refugee Academy with Nikki Scholten as its project leader. The content has been translated to Arabic by Younes Younes.

Please note, this platform is still under construction. We are open for collaborations with other parties that want to help us with improving the content and extending the mapping of supporting initiatives and organizations. Interested? Send an email to: refugee.academy.FSW@vu.nl

  1. Bakker, L. (2015). ‘Seeking Sanctuary in the Netherlands; Opportunities and obstacles to refugee integration’.
  2. Klaver, J. (2016). Local responses to the refugee crisis in the Netherlands: Reception and integration. Warsaw: Institute of Public Affairs.
  3. Bakker, L. (2015). ‘Seeking Sanctuary in the Netherlands; Opportunities and obstacles to refugee integration’.
  4. Kuiper, M., Pelgrim, C., Brummelman, C. and K. Versteegh. (2016, 2 februari). De draad kwijt in het asieldebat? Dit zijn de feiten. NRC. https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2016/02/02/dit-zijn-de-feiten-over-asielzoekers-in-nederland-a1405200#vraag1
  5. Lysias Consulting Group. (2018). Onderzoek naar ondernemerschap onder statushouders.