Netherlands | Social entrepreneurship

A flying start at assimilation

5 May 2021 9:00

What’s a social enterprise to do when your business model suddenly isn’t feasible anymore? You change course, of course. That’s how 2020 became the ‘best worst year ever’ for Refugee Team.

Two people working on a beach


start collaboration


participants enrolled


participants guided to employment


of the participants felt stronger upon completion

“People assimilate much easier when they can start working.”

The challenge

Asylum seekers in the Netherlands have trouble finding jobs, but paid employment is vital in order to assimilate into society. Refugee Team has found a way to break through that vicious circle. The social enterprise supports refugees in their integration process, so that they can take control and build a new future in the Netherlands. Refugee Team does so using a tried-and-tested approach. First, asylum seekers do volunteer work at sports events and festivals. Then Refugee Team matches them to the business network around the event to help them find a paying job.

Refugee Team: new programs

That’s how they did it until 2020, at least. When the lockdown went into effect last year, all 45 of the events on the schedule were cancelled. So Refugee Team had to set a new course. The social enterprise developed two new programs for asylum seekers. Video Vrienden (Video Friends), where a Dutch volunteer and a newcomer have half-hour video chats every week for five weeks to talk about a variety of topics. That way, asylum seekers were able to meet new people during the coronavirus pandemic and practice their Dutch language skills. And with the four-week course Digitaal aan de Slag (Working Digitally), Refugee Team prepared newcomers for the job market via online workshops, in-depth podcasts and 1-on-1 coaching.

Flying start

Together with eight municipalities in the Heart of Brabant region, Refugee Team also set up the Starttraject Inburgering + (Start Assimilating + course). The course is a way for the social enterprise to anticipate for the Assimilation Act that will go into effect in 2022. The act will allow for more custom-tailored approaches. Starttraject Inburgering + offers newcomers workshops, volunteer work, visits to companies and orientation activities to provide a good impression of the value of their backgrounds, qualifications and characteristics. It also gives them a better idea of what opportunities are available in the Netherlands. In 2020, 63 people participated in Starttraject Inburgering +. They presented themselves and their plans for the future to partner municipalities.

Refugee Team’s impact in 2020

    124 participants enrolled 59 participants guided to employment 14 participants did internships or work experience positions 862 participants in the Video Vrienden program 57 attended the Digitaal aan de Slag program 87% of the participants felt stronger upon completion 60% of the Dutch volunteers at Refugee Team had never before worked to help refugees in the Netherlands

Refugee Team and Rabo Foundation

Rabo Foundation provided Refugee Team with a loan in collaboration with the Brabant Outcomes Fund (BOF). The Province of Brabant is the first Dutch province to pioneer the use of an Outcomes Fund, in which investors earn a return on their investment by contributing to a social result together with entrepreneurs.

Rabo Foundation has partnered with Refugee Team to contribute to a more inclusive society. One of our objectives is to offer people who have trouble finding jobs more opportunities for paid employment, so that they can participate fully in society. Via Refugee Team, we aim to help asylum seekers move forward in the Netherlands.

Explore our impact report 'Social Entrepeneurship' to find out more about our results in 2020 and read more stories that showcases how we contribute to an inclusive society in the Netherlands.