Over the last few years Europe has been experiencing the largest flows of migration since the Second World War and many of those arriving in the Old Continent do so in order to request political asylum. According to Eurostat, in 2015 the number of refugees seeking asylum in European countries was more than double the number of the previous year: the overall number was well in excess of one million with asylum requests totalling 1,257,030. The country that received the highest number of requests was Germany (441,800 or 35% of the EU total), followed by Hungary (174,435), Sweden (156,110) and Austria (85,505). In Italy 83,245 requests for protection were made: 7% of the European total.
The EU has a legal and moral responsibility to protect people in need, while it falls within the jurisdictions of each member state to evaluate the individual asylum requests and decide to whom to provide protection. In 2015 and 2016 the EU granted a total of over 10 billion euros in order to manage the refugee crisis.
But this is not enough. Facilitating the integration of the new arrivals through employment represents one of the main challenges for the future of the EU, also in order to counter the effects of the severe demographic crisis that the Old Continent is experiencing.
In October 2017 the Generali Group launched the project The Human Safety Net (THSN) to assist disadvantaged people through programmes of protection, training and mentoring, in order to transform and improve their lives, those of their families and the communities in which they live. One of the three programmes, The Human Safety Net for Refugees Start-Up is specifically for refugees and has the aim of enabling asylum seekers to fulfil their entrepreneurial potential by helping them to create new businesses.
According to a study of the workforce by Eurostat, at the end of 2015 (excluding the agriculture sector) in the 28 countries of the European Union the number of foreign self-employed workers increased by 52.6% compared with the previous ten years and in Italy this figure was almost 54%. Foreigners now make up 6.3% of all of the self-employed workers in the EU and of these, the majority (69.9%) are non-Europeans.
Often those who migrate to Western countries have a medium-to-high level of qualifications and training and they aspire to economic conditions that are better than those in their country of origin. Encouraging entrepreneurship among refugees is important also because it offers more solid prospects for the future: permanent residence, naturalization and family reunification.