Type of practice:
SIMN is an umbrella organization of the Scalabrinian Missionaries, a Catholic congregation with more than 135 years of experience serving migrants and refugees, present today in 39 countries worldwide. The Scalabrinians realized that it was imperative to go beyond humanitarian services to migrants in order to secure a prosperous future for them and a successful and durable integration into host societies. Thus, the model was designed to match the labor supply migrants provide with the demand for labor of the local economies with the participation of local governments, business, civil society and migrant organizations.
Objectives of the model:
• To foster the integration of migrants and refugees into host societies through job placement and the creation of small businesses.
• To benefit also host societies through economic growth brought by the contribution of migrants´ labor and the businesses they create.
• To counter the development of xenophobic narratives.
• To break the cycle of migrants' dependence to humanitarian assistance.
• To empower women to be able to provide for the livelihoods of their families.
• To empower migrants to organize themselves for social, economic and political purposes.
The main beneficiaries of the model are migrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, deportees, returnees, IDP and vulnerable groups, such as women and LGBTQ+. Women represent approximately 60% of the total population served, including migrant mothers with families.
The program consists of four stages:
1. Training and skill certification: intensive technical training, including the development of entrepreneurial and soft skills, and concludes with formal certification granted by recognized governmental agencies.
2. Document regularization and work authorization: beneficiaries are supported with legal and administrative guidance and are referred to government agencies to regularize their migratory status to obtain a work permit according to national laws.
3. Employment referrals and micro-entrepreneurship: future workers and entrepreneurs, in possession of their certificates and work permits, can opt for two programs: first, an employment program with referrals to responsible and registered employers; and second, an entrepreneurship program that allows the design and implementation of a business plan and access to micro-loans for a start-up.
4. Technical Support: there is comprehensive accompaniment for monitoring holistically the challenges and commitments acquired in the employment and entrepreneurship programs. This stage offers the entrepreneur technical follow-up and individual sessions for the sustainability of the micro-business.
Funds are received from different donor organizations, such as IOM, UNHCR, USAID, the Global Solidarity Fund (GSF), or CARITAS PRO VITAE TRUST. Areas covered with the funds: professional and technical staff; operational expenses; equipment and teaching/learning supplies; facilities and food.
Benefit and Impact
• Migratory regularization and with that access to social services, including health care and education for their children.
• Employment in responsible businesses that respect their labor rights and provide them labor and social security benefits.
• Educational and training programs, as well as certification and recognition of abilities.
• By being perceived as contributors to the host society, creation of a mutually beneficial environment for migrants and host communities, countering xenophobic narratives, and allowing the social, cultural and economic enrichment of the latter.
Other benefits: The economic autonomy migrants gain has not only material impact in their well-being and that of their families, but also in their recovery process from deeply traumatic experiences resulted from the migratory process.
Another key result is the development of a new culture on migration in the host communities. Because the implementation requires a close collaboration of different actors (local governments, business organizations and civil society and migrant organizations), these joint efforts favor the development of a new perception of all the actors involved, which, in turn, favor the integration of migrants and a positive perception from local communities due to the benefits they receive as a result of this integration.
SIMN and its partners use SIMN's database to systematize the information collected in the implementation of the model. The Scalabrinian centers on the ground register all the data relevant to the Model, including those who initiate the program and those who successfully terminate the four stages of the model, through personal interviews. Thanks to this tool, we know the Model has impacted more than 15,000 persons since it started to be implemented.
Time needed to observe results: The full implementation cycle lasts a minimum of 18 months.
Positive secondary benefits:
• Beyond the economic benefits for the direct beneficiaries, the new perception of migrants as net contributors to the receiving communities counter the xenophobic narratives, which facilitates their integration and increased trust in authorities and host communities.
• Personal empowerment and a concrete way to advance in overcoming psycho-emotional traumatic experiences.
• Increase self-confidence and role model for other migrants.
• Young people increase in aspirations to reach higher education levels and preference over illegal/criminal activities.
• Will this practice continue beyond the initial end date: YES
• To establish lasting and trusting relations between the key actors involved in the project (local authorities, business organizations, civil society and migrant organizations).
• To persuade all the actors on the convenience for all of them in participating in the implementation of the model, in light especially of the benefits they can obtain in the mid and long terms.
• To identify and overcome the administrative obstacles in the regularization process of migrants.
• To avoid dropping off the program.
• To adapt to the conditions imposed by the COVID-19, particularly lockdowns and other health measures implemented by governments during the pandemic and after it.
How each challenge was overcome:
• In relation to the first two challenges, they have been overcome by seeking to establish and cultivate relations with all the actors, but especially with local authorities in order to persuade them on their convenience to address jointly with the Scalabrinian centers the challenges that unexpected and major migratory fluxes impose on local governments. That is, the Scalabrinian centers are key allies in addressing those challenges.
• To overcome the administrative obstacles in the regularization process, it is indispensable to hire staff dedicated to understand and learn how to navigate in the legal and administrative dimensions.
• To avoid dropping off the programs, a close and supportive accompaniment of the participants is indispensable, as well as the provision of food and daycare services for women with children. Without these services, it is virtually impossible to succeed.
• The provision of cell phones and wifi connections permitted migrants to connect via internet to the courses and also applying for distant job positions.
What could have been done differently?
• An important lesson we learned is the need to conduct scientific studies on the actual conditions of national, regional and local job markets prior to initiating the implementation of the model. This is mandatory to obtain higher rates of success in both job placement and creation of small businesses, because this is precisely the way to identify what kind of training and educational courses are required and what are the economic sectors that are more in need of job supply.
What kind of follow-up was used to incorporate the lesson in related or future practices?
The Model is continuously reviewed and adjusted at SIMN, precisely by gathering information related to its implementation from the Scalabrinian centers on the ground and conducting interviews with both staff, beneficiaries, local authorities and the business owners involved. At the same time, we seek to keep a flexible approach when the Model is going to be implemented in other country or city because each national or local context is different and the model has to be adapted to the prevailing conditions of each context.
Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)
• A proactive approach to establishing meaningful and cooperative relations with all the actors involved, particularly local authorities and business associations, emphasizing that it is about a win-win situation for all actors involved, as well as for both migrants and the host communities.
• Conducting studies or assessments on the local labor market of cities where the Model will be implemented is key to identifying the context dynamics that allow for properly connecting the offer-demand by designing courses responsive to the labor needs and establishing contact with specific business actors.
• Flexibility in the implementation of the model is indispensable, based not only on the local contexts but also on the profile and backgrounds of the migration population intended to get benefited.
• To know in depth the migratory and refugee laws of the country where it is intended to implement the model and to hire qualified staff to accompany migrants in their regularization process.
• To Including financial education courses in the curricula is key to helping beneficiaries to understand the importance of well organizing their economies and learning about the host society's economic dynamics, which allow them to adapt, establish and sustain their start-ups.
• To create incentives for those who received seed capital as substantive discounts if they comply with all the requirements of the program.
• To comprehensively accompany migrants in all the stages of the process so they do not drop off and conclude the whole cycle successfully. Personalized tutoring meetings and psychoemotional support are decisive.
• To celebrate their achievements with ceremonies and public recognition on social media in order to reinforce their confidence.
• It is a problem-solving solution that comprehensively meets the real needs of vulnerable beneficiaries by including shelter support, psychoemotional assistance, legal advice, certification of abilities, labor placement, and seed capital.
• Even before the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration acknowledged the need to act upon the principle of “whole-of-society approach,” the Model was designed and implemented on this premise precisely because to achieve results, it was indispensable to have local authorities, business organizations and civil society and migrant organizations working together.
• It is also a people-centered solution as much as it seeks to take advantage of the labor market for the benefit of migrants and not for purely economic gain from private enterprises.
• One of its goals is breaking the cycle of dependency on humanitarian aid and seeking to empower migrants to become change makers that contribute to their well-being and that of the host communities. It is intended to strengthen the autonomy and agency capacity of migrants, particularly women.
• Due to its flexibility, the model stages can be adapted and replicated in different national and local contexts.
• It is a systematic model that allows tracking the progress of a person, from the moment they arrive at the shelter in conditions of extreme vulnerability with emergency needs to pass through all the areas that allow them to become a documented person, with a work permit, certified skills, placed in a formal job or with a micro-enterprise. Through the model, we see how these people who arrive vulnerable are empowered, boost their economies, can provide a decent livelihood, and become agents of change.
This model is a catalyst, which has made it possible to expand its implementation in various countries. In this way, initiatives have been catalyzed, such as creating Integrated Training -Social Centers, Labor exchange offices, and, most recently, creating a Pole of Technical Excellence for young migrants in formal educational centers in marginalized border areas. Likewise, it has promoted the adaptation and creation of various methodologies for entrepreneurship, creating return funds, investment bonuses, collective entrepreneurship groups, job internships, and technical monitoring for sustainability.
This Model is sustainable and scalable.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to adapt our courses to a virtual format to adhere to the safety protocols. The transition to this format was accompanied by a decrease in the rates of attendance of those students interested in practical training and got discouraged from the new format. The way found to respond to this situation was hiring more teachers to have more classes with fewer students each. Also, computer labs were created or expanded to allow migrants to take online courses.