Skip links



In our first blog, we entertained the idea that social enterprises resemble cocoons. Social enterprises are hubs for transformation. As inclusive, small-scale and nurturing workplaces, they offer the ideal environment for highly emarginated individuals to approach employment and to reach financial independence. They also serve eventually as a stepping stone to then explore one’s own potential to finally focus on a career trajectory.

Our joint programme CRISALIS moves from these premises. We are piloting an integrated labour inclusion scheme combining training, assistance and self-development in two young and thriving social enterprises in the creative sector. The scheme targets young survivors of human trafficking in Italy and the Netherlands, currently 15 young women who survived human trafficking have benefitted from training and self-development opportunities within CRISALIS, 8 of them long-term.

At the end of last year, we held our third and last year knowledge-sharing workshop, hosted by the Verona African Museum. On this occasion, we looked back to unpack what worked well and what could be improved, under the guidance of Greta Rossi from Akasha Innovation.

In this blog, we’d like to share our journey so far with social enterprises and their stakeholders EU-wide.

Share: We invited the CRISALIS’ key internal stakeholders at each partner organisation to share their experience: from programme designers and managers, from external support staff to trainers and instructors. Each of them contributed a unique perspective on the interplay between training and self-development in CRISALIS. This provided a unique occasion for the programme’s “Heads” to exchange views with the programme “Hands” within each organisation in a neutral setting. It also fostered cross-organisation and cross-country debate on labour inclusion policies and mechanisms between two like-minded, yet different social enterprise models: Quid’s and Makers Unite’s. The graphic facilitation by Akasha Innovation helped us frame ideas and inputs in three posters: ‘Postcards from Verona’, ‘Postcards from Athens’ and ‘Postcards from Amsterdam’.

SWOTs: We transitioned from an informal sharing session to a structured, collaborative SWOT-analysis workshop. Both trainers and heads of programmes critically reflected on their experience with CRISALIS. We focused on internal strengths and weaknesses as well as on external threats, and on opportunities to maximise impact in the programme’s future editions. Among CRISALIS’ strengths, we identified the balance between therapeutical labour and on-the-job training, as well as a commitment to foster inclusion and meaningful connections in the workplace. Both teams nonetheless, reflected on the obstacles they encountered along the way. For instance, language and cultural barriers and lack of trust from the trainees made the buy-in from the rest of the team more difficult. As a result, the transition from training to labour inclusion proved challenging. National policies regulating the integration process of victims of human trafficking, too, played a decisive role in the roll-out phase of our pilot. The Italian social inclusion pathway for victims of human trafficking allows longer-term professional and life planning. And today all of CRISALIS trainees in Quid are hired on permanent contracts.

Support and Self-Development: workplace-based support and self-development initiatives embedded in CRISALIS proved formidable assets throughout the training and labour inclusion process. Trainers noticed that the three Creative Expression Workshops held by The Language Project helped trainees bond and develop meaningful connections in the workplace. The contribution of dedicated staff who could act as mediator and confidante, such as Quid’s Welfare Officer, proved equally useful in bridging the gap between the social enterprise and first assistance providers, from caseworkers to social workers. It became clear that both trainees and trainers can benefit from the support of Welfare Staff and especially of cultural mediators. Internal Welfare programmes, furthermore, should not replicate existing services but rather direct and accompany users in familiarising themselves with the existing offer.

Step-by-Step: Our dedicated trainers – Esther, Marina, Gigliola, Silvia, Gema – shared tips on how to structure on-the-job training programmes. They identified three key phases in the labour inclusion value chain: 1.therapeutical labour, 2.workplace-based on-the-job training and 3.employment in the marketplace. Therapeutical labour equips trainees with purpose and with a safe environment other than one’s home, it serves as a first step towards social inclusion. On-the-job training provides basic technical skills as well as basic soft-skills, from punctuality to teamwork; it is a compass for professional orientation, too. Employment offers long-term professional development opportunities and long-term livelihood, in exchange for commitment, accountability and reliability. Within both the Italian and the Dutch ecosystem social enterprises are best suited to implement this three-fold labour inclusion model. Other types of organisations – from shelters to refuges, from charities to day-centres – can pilot small-scale labour inclusion programmes, mostly focusing on therapeutical labour and short-term on the job training programmes.

Stakeholders: We devoted most of our afternoon to an interactive workshop with some of our key local stakeholders to pilot a new way to map synergies. Na.Ve, the Veneto Region anti-trafficking network, the Charitable Organisation Associazione Papa Giovanni XXIII, Verona’s women refuge Protezione Della Giovane and Nuova Primavera, a local refugees first acceptance centre, cultural mediators, case-workers: what we all have in common is a commitment to supporting migrant women with vulnerable backgrounds getting their foot into the job market. With a first exercise, ‘The Marketplace’ Akasha Innovation helped us visualise needs and responses in this specific area in Verona: Each organisation was invited to pick a keyword describing their demand and their offer respectively: their most urgent need and the ways they responded to other partners’ needs. These words, each on a post-it, helped us visualise the long and winding road to labour inclusion for migrant women. Along the way, we discovered that many needs go unnoticed while in certain segments of the inclusion journey services are duplicated. This was food for thought to rethink our processes as an ecosystem, and to design more inclusive and interactive programmes to tackle, together, the challenges of labour inclusion.

One year in the programme, we know there is much more to learn and explore. We look forward to sharing our next steps soon!

Photo Credits: Solomon and Sylvia Kouveli Photography

Leave a comment

2 × five =