On 2 October 2014, the first Diversity and Economy Round Table took place in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. In the heart of the city, around 25 participants gathered to discuss the topic of 'hidden' entrepreneurship and the opportunities and challenges this brings for a diverse city such as Rotterdam. Hans Beekman, Director of Urban Development for the City of Rotterdam, opened the session by explaining that the municipal government encourages all sorts of entrepreneurship, and that efforts should be made to ensure that all entrepreneurs, including people with migrant background, women and social entrepreneurs, have equal access to the wide variety of services that is available in the Rotterdam region. This will have an enormous positive impact on the local economy and the ability of Rotterdammers to be successful in business.
Inspired by a number of short introductory speeches by successful entrepreneurs from different backgrounds, representatives from the migrant business community, the municipal procurement office, the municipal departments on economic and social development, local banks, NGOs and larger corporate companies consequently engaged in a highly interactive and fruitful discussion. The status quo of migrant entrepreneurship and the required steps forward to create an encouraging and promoting environment for migrant entrepreneurs in Rotterdam were addressed, with access to information, coaching, networks and financing as some of the identified critical factors for success. It became clear that although the municipality has a role to play in this, other societal stakeholders - including migrant entrepreneurs and their organisations - are also in a position to contribute to this process.
In the next few weeks, the self-assessment questionnaire as presented by the Migration Policy Group will be filled out by many local stakeholders. Building on the gaps identified and recommendations made throughout the self-assessment review, the identification of follow up activities will help local governments to incorporate support to migrant entrepreneurship in the local planning processes. The outcomes of these undertakings will guide the activities of the DELI partners in Rotterdam for the remaining 8 months of the project, with the aim to achieve tangible and sustainable results in the streets of Rotterdam.