Project Summary

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This project builds on the result of an earlier project, “9 Conversations, Network building for self-employment of refugees”, in which the partners developed a study circle programme to help refugees build their professional network in a targeted manner while exploring ideas for self-employment using the 9 sectors of the visual tool, Business Model Canvas.
The programme was successfully developed and a small-scale trial was well received. Associate partners showed a great interest in the development of the outputs of the original 9 Conversations project as did the target group participants we met through our dissemination activities including multiplier events in three partner countries.
Although the original project produced a facilitator guide, our stakeholders let us know that this was not sufficient to support them in offering the 9 Conversations programme themselves. While the outputs of the original 9 Conversations programme were sufficient to allow the partners involved to adopt the programme, we became aware that we need to do more work to make the outputs transferable to non-partners.

The Mastering 9 Conversations project will:

  1. Adapt and enhance the content of the original 9 Conversations programme to make it truly independent of the partners and able to be transferred to contexts and environments outside of the original partner consortium.
  2. Adapt the content of the original 9 Conversations programme to allow for two levels, one lower and one higher, of competence rather than one standard programme.
  3. Adopt an online first strategy to the digital materials (as against offering a device specific app)
  4. Create a train the trainer course to enable refugee support workers, whether professional or volunteer, to carry out the improved programme with their clients.
  5. Create a practical business plan to allow stakeholders not associated with the project to implement the programme easily.

Target groups
The main target group is volunteers and professionals working with refugees who want to be able to offer support to those starting their own businesses. Our target group may offer the programme infrequently alongside their other training.
The small-scale trial of the original 9 Conversations programme showed that it also attracts foreigners who are not refugees. Therefore, anyone working in the area of support for foreigners generally may benefit from the proposed training of Mastering 9 Conversations.

Needs of the target groups
Mastering 9 Conversations arises from the experience of carrying out the 9 Conversations Erasmus project which developed an approach to motivate refugees and other foreigners to find out more about their self-employment possibilities by following a structured informal study programme over 9 weeks. The 9 Conversations programme requires a great deal from the facilitator, is location-based and ends with participants having learned how to describe their business idea using the Osterwalder one-page Business Model Canvas graphic as a storytelling frame. The 9 Conversations programme was supported by a detailed facilitator guide and a smartphone app and made use of some EU tools such as the EntreComp framework to self-assess their entrepreneurship skills and the EU Skills profile tool to ensure that all their skills and competences were fully documented. In spite of this robust work box of tools, aspiring facilitators who had not been part of the original project expressed a need to be trained in its application. This new project will build this train the trainer training programme as well as improving some aspects of the original programme. For example, we will create two levels of the programme to cater for lower and higher level competences.

It is very important that the programme is adaptable to meet local needs. Potential trainers need to be given help on how to find out relevant information about the area business-wise and which conditions may affect the take up of the programme eg time of day, accreditation and so on. Mastering 9 Conversations will therefore be strongly based on a situated pedagogy.

Why should this be done transnationally?
To meet the needs of end users, the original 9 Conversations programme needs to be robustly location-based. Being able to test out the train the trainer programme with participants from a variety of countries will greatly help to ensure that the final product can work across contexts.

As well as different cultures, legal and business contexts, the conditions and environments that the refugees find themselves in varies enormously across the EU and therefore it will be helpful to take these variations into account at the development stage. Variations include densities of refugees, origins of refugees, legal status of refugees, generally available financial and education support levels to refugees.