ETHIKAS project will utilize design thinking to empower immigrant women in social entrepreneurship

TEXT | Carmen Vendelin-Laukkanen
Be the Change.

Empowering immigrant women to make a difference in their communities and the world

VAMK`s unit Design Centre Muova is the Finnish partner, collaborating with partners in Sweden, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Spain, and Romania, in an Erasmus+ programme of the European Union-funded project that will utilise design thinking to help immigrant women to become social entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurship can be described as going into business for a good cause with the intention to have a positive social impact.

Empowering Migrant Women Using Design THInKing ApproacheS for Sustainable Entrepreneurship, or ETHIKAS, is a two-year project which intends to support immigrant women in implementing social and sustainable entrepreneurship via human-centered approaches, equipped with the skills, knowledge and mindset needed to build a system that works for all: society, the economy, and environment.

Providing resources for immigrant women to build socially responsible and sustainable businesses

Finland is particularly conducive to social entrepreneurship having ranked 8th out of 43 countries, and 7th for women, in a 2019 Thomas Reuters Foundation and the Deutsche Bank enterprise programme for social good poll.  However, in Finland and in other countries, women tend to enter entrepreneurship less often than men and, in general, immigrant men are much more likely to become entrepreneurs than immigrant women. (OECD, 2017 and 2020 and Brieger and Gielnik, 2020)

ETHIKAS aims to give immigrant women the support they need to envision themselves as social entrepreneurs and to take steps towards achieving their goals.

ETHIKAS project outputs will include an eBook aimed at fostering social entrepreneurship for immigrant women, a toolkit of OER (open educational resources) based on design thinking for social entrepreneurship, and a learning hub for downloading OER materials to increase awareness of the project.

The project begins with assessing needs and resources

Currently project partners are finalizing field and desk research. Field research comprised collecting surveys and conducting interviews.

The surveys asked immigrant women and support staff who work or volunteer assisting immigrants, helping individuals enter entrepreneurship, and similar roles, about entrepreneurship awareness, interests, and needs among immigrant women.

The interviews were conducted with experts in entrepreneurship and human-centered approaches, including design thinking and mentoring schemes.

The desk research, similarly, reviewed human-centered approaches, including design thinking and mentoring schemes, to help in implementing social entrepreneurship approaches for immigrant women in the partner countries and more internationally.

Findings from the field and desk research will be utilized in creating the project eBook and toolkit.

To learn more and follow the project’s progress, go to the project website.

ETHIKAS project logo and Erasmus+ EU logo.

Disclaimer: The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

  • Brieger, Steven A. and Gielnik, Michael M. 2020. Understanding the gender gap in immigrant entrepreneurship: a multi-country study of immigrants’ embeddedness in economic, social, and institutional contexts. Accessed 2.12.2022.

  • OECD/European Union. 2017. Inclusive Entrepreneurship Country Policy Assessment Finland 2017. Accessed 12.12.2022.

  • OECD, 2020. Inclusive Entrepreneurship Policies, Country Assessment Notes: Finland 2020. Accessed 14.12.2022.

  • Thomson Reuters Foundation. 2019. The best countries to be asocial entrepreneur2019. Accessed 14.12.2022.

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