OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Tres Efes - Program for entrepreneurs with the same opportunities as everyone else.

Social and labor insertion of migrants, refugees and locals through entrepreneurship.

Photo of Tomás Megna
14 11

Written by

What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Many refugees and migrants have a wealth of experience (20% have university degrees), however when they come to a new country they tend to lose the experience and qualifications they have accumulated in their homes due to language barriers, incompatible degrees and professional qualifications and perhaps most importantly, the loss of the personal network that would support them in achieving their dreams. They are forced into precarious, blackmarket, and underqualified positions. We are losing their talent. At the same time, in Spain the rural areas inhabitants are moving to the cities due to lack of economic opportunities, between 2017 and 2018 the region of Catalonia lost over 7K rural inhabitants to cities. Locals don’t see the rural zones as places where they can live their dreams. They are losing talent. Family, Friends and Fools are the only ones crazy enough to support a new entrepreneur and they are the key to their success. May refugees or migrants don’t have this network, and even with all the technical support in the world, without them it’s hard to succeed. We’re Tres Efes (Three Fs in English) because we build that network of Family, Friends and Fools that an early stage entrepreneur needs. Tres Efes proposes to transform Catalonia (and eventually Spain) through the creation and coordination of a network of six incubators across the region focused on building an enabling environment for migrants and locals to develop and achieve their dreams, together. We do this by supporting participants in becoming entrepreneurs and change agents and driving the development of a diverse, sustainable and creative economy. We have the audacious goal of incubating 300 people in two years.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

We have identified 6 towns across Catalonia (including Barcelona) where there is a strong migrant presence. We are starting with a focus on Catalonia as that is where the partner organizations have active communities. Catalonia is also special in Spain in that it has a strong citizen support to welcome more refugees and a strong focus on social inclusion, this combined with our active relationships and communities are factors that we believe will lead to success.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

Entrepreneurship is a vehicle of social inclusion. By living the entrepreneurial journey together participants strip away the identity of local vs. migrant and reinforce the shared identity of ‘change agent’. We build connections to the local economy, creating a network committed to supporting the inclusion economy. Instead of migrants being seen as either people that need our help, or people that might take your jobs, they are collaborators and partners.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Tres Efes seeks to facilitate rather than create. We allow people to hope again that they didn’t have to leave their dreams in their home country, that instead of cleaning floors they could start the next Facebook, that just because they aren’t from here doesn’t mean they can’t take on leadership roles within their new society because we know when we do things together we will build a much better future, and we need them as much as they need us. We work with newcomers (refugees and migrants) and locals who want to have an impact. They have talent and ideas and dreams that they are blocked from realizing by a lack of connections to their new community and / or a lack of support in developing their ideas in their new environment. We use the power of creativity to unlock these ideas and the power of community building to support them in developing the network they need to make their dreams reality, always together.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

The main objective is to build an inclusive economy in Catalonia, with the following specific objectives: Facilitate social inclusion for migrants and refugees: At least 10 migrants and 5 locals start each incubation programme. 80% have at least 5 new relationships with community members and organizations by the end of the program. 80% receive 10h of mentoring from community members. Drive a diverse and sustainable economy: All projects have at least one impact indicator. 80% of projects include at least one collaboration between a local and migrant. Foster local economic development: At least 33% of projects plan to be launched within three months after each incubation cycle. Each participant has a monthly check-in session with the incubator director where their progression towards these goals is assessed. We have monthly in-person sessions where we will check in on progression. We have three months of M&E built in to each cycle to monitor the progress of the projects.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

There are so many actors that want to work with refugees and migrants but are not cooperating together and thereby making it impossible to build the cohesive network that is essential to newcomers’ success. There is a need to build something that seeks to unite rather than divide and something designed to be replicable and scalable, allowing the solidarity network we build to scale. This project is a partnership between three organizations that are seeking to collaborate rather than compete to drive a deeper impact for the people we seek to support. Each of our organizations have proven traction and complementary experiences in working with refugees and migrants, incubation, creative methodologies and we realized by combining forces we can build the largest community of inclusive entrepreneurship in Spain and eventually the world.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Recent Arrivals They may have come to Spain without families and many are in limbo waiting for responses to their asylum applications that may take years. If they work, they are working in the black market. At risk of homelessness. Want to be connected to their new society. Not so newcomers Have been in their new society awhile but have not been fully embraced by it and have a sense of bitterness. May or may not be legal but work in jobs that are below their qualifications. More of an idea and maybe already have some traction but have trouble navigating the system and don’t have the customers or partners they need. Less open to collaboration, feel like society has burned them and don’t trust others. Locals Feel that their life lacks a social purpose. Aware of issues and want to do something but don’t know what. Lack insight into the cause of the problem they are trying to solve. Risk treating migrants as less than peers due to subconscious conditioning.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Our work is deeply understanding and mapping the resources that already exist in the community and facilitating connections for our participants to those resources. We do this through: A community mapping exercise at the start of each incubator Contracting residents to run the incubators themselves and providing them training and support, Mentorship from community members with incubator participants, Co-creating with the community, Assessment of incubated projects and connection with local resources. Additionally, we put incubator alumni in roles of power within the process, either as staff of the program, facilitators or mentors to the next cohort of entrepreneurs. We will have a ‘social contract’ with each participant to give back to the program in a way that leverages their abilities and talents. Ensuring, even though they don’t pay for the program in a financial sense, that there is a sense of commitment and buy in within and after the program.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

Regional Government Role: Support national scaling. Status: Established relationship. Corporations Role: Funding, mentors. Status: We have within our mentorship and professional network large corporations including Vueling, Glovo, Telefonica and Gestamp. NGOs Role: Connect to beneficiaries, build credibility. Status: Past relationship established to be activated for this project - partners include: CEAR, Servei Solidari, Red Cross, and ACCEM. Municipal Governments Role: Support regional scaling and implementation. Status: Previously established relationships specifically for this project. Associations / Collectives of migrant people: Role: Support in identifying participants, link with the community. Status: Previously established relationships with different collectives and associations of migrants and refugees. Local Businesses: Role: Act as potential collaborators to participants. Status: Previously established relationship.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Platform: Creating a community or market that facilitates interaction between users and resources

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Pilot: We have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users. The feasibility of an innovation is tested in a small-scale and real world application (i.e. 3-15% of the target population)

Group or Organization Name

Tres Efes by Chapter#2, Learning by Helping and SINGA.

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Tres Efes is a collaboration between three entities. SINGA Spain and CHAPTER#2 both focus on incubating refugee entrepreneurs and Learning by Helping focuses on incubating local entrepreneurs who are looking for social impact. This project fits perfectly with our shared vision of the power of entrepreneurship to drive social cohesion and build community. SINGA España - SINGA is in 7 countries across Europe and has a community of over 35K migrants and locals. They were recently awarded the Finalist prize by the European Network for Innovation in Inclusion. CHAPTER#2 has been running three incubator programs and an acceleration programme with refugee entrepreneurs. Partner at EUStartGees, a co-financed programme by the European Union to support 240 young refugees to build successful enterprises in Europe. Learning by Helping has been running programs incubating social impact projects and has a community of over 150 locals and 300 people in different parts of the world.

Website URL:

Chapter#2: Learning by Helping: SINGA España:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State

Barcelona, Catalonia.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Patricia

Dear Tomas,

Thank you for sharing this idea!! Five One Labs has a similar model in Iraq - all of our cohorts are half displaced and half local, and a huge part of our programming is developing strong communities within our cohorts. I love that you're planning on doing this across the whole Catalonia region. One thing we are always concerned about is how many new businesses we can create in a given time before we saturate the market. Your goal of 300 new businesses is really audacious - where did you get that number from, and do you think the local market can absorb that many new businesses?

We'd love to keep in touch as you continue to develop this across Spain!

Photo of Tomás Megna

Patricia! Thank you very much for contacting us and it's good to know that a similar project is being carried out in Iraq. As for the number of new businesses to be created, it was planned based on the experience of the 3 organizations that currently do this type of work in Catalonia.

Please share your contact with me, so we can keep in touch.

View all comments