How to skill up your future?

On Saturday, 29 April, 2017, from 10:30 to 14:30, the first workshop of FutureLab Europe’s project Skill Up! took place in Athens at the Impact HUB Athens.


Led by FutureLab Europe member Violetta Tsitsiliani, the workshop introduced the concept of social entrepreneurship to young immigrants and asylum seekers in Athens. With the objective of promoting social integration and boosting participants’ chances on the labour market, the workshop also contributed to the broader debate on equal employment opportunities in Europe.

The workshop took place in collaboration with Athens-based The Language ProjectImpact HUB Athensthe team of TechfugeesChangeMakerXchange and Generation 2.0 for Rights, Equality & Diversity.
Photographer Sylvia Kouveli from Sylvia Kouveli Photography kindly took pictures of the event.

It brought together refugees and immigrants, mostly from Syria, Afghanistan and Congo, with experienced social entrepreneurs, creating space for meaningful exchange on how to put social entrepreneurship projects into practice. Two interpreters facilitated communication alongside the working languages Greek and English.

Chatting in the court

In total, 33 people attended the event, including 14 refugees and immigrants and 11 social entrepreneurs/ professionals/ NGOs representatives, such as social inclusion media company Solomon, education networks Study in Greece, RefGR, and Hope School, social incubator Youthnest,  cultural adventures company Peripatos, the cleaning company LaGrace ΚοινΣεπ run by immigrants and refugees, and Chimopoieio, a fruit juice bar.

After a quick kick-off, Violetta Tsitsiliani explained the workshop’s outline and social entrepreneurs introduced themselves. Participants then split up into three groups and gathered around roundtables according to their preferred areas of entrepreneurial activities:

  • Language
  • Food
  • Coops (Cooperatives)

Participants then brainstormed and discussed their entrepreneurial ideas with the social entrepreneurs around the table.
The resulting project ideas were:

  • Language group – Translations from rare languages

Capitalizing on the variety of language skills they have, this group came up with the idea to offer certified translations of “rare” languages as a Unique Selling Point. Their aim is to base their business model on translations from rare languages into Greek and/ or English and charge different rates, depending on the complexity of the document, but also according to the client’s background; in the case of refugees, they will apply no charge.

Language group member Arash
  • Food group – Catering with home-grown food

Many immigrants bring with them great knowledge in growing food from their home countries. This group came up with the idea to grow vegetables on their own instead of buying them from the supermarket, and set up a catering service for social events. With land prices around Athens not being particularly high at the moment, participants looked at the prospects of buying a piece of land for own vegetable cultivation. Growing lettuce, for example, proves quite easy and could even be done in the city, with many houses featuring a small patch or house garden.

  • Coop group – Timebanking

The coop group was inspired by the model of timebanking, consisting of offering a service in exchange for a “time credit” to use for something else – all without relying on money. Put simply, it means doing someone a favour and getting a favour in return for it. Yet, timebanking provides a better and bigger framework to organise this exchange of services, so the roundtable decided to set up a virtual office to enable people declare their offers and wishes online.

The hot day ended at 14.30, with everyone looking forward to the cooperation that would spin off from the roundtables. Participants received a Certificate of Attendance as a take-away.

The workshop in Athens has been the first of two workshops that Skill Up! is organising. This Greek edition will be complemented by a workshop taking place in Bergen, Norway on 3 June 2017.

The workshops’ results will be presented during the FutureLab Europe Autumn Conference on 21, September 2017 in Brussels.

Do you have questions or comments on the project?

Contact Violetta at or leave the group a message on the FutureLab Europe-Facebookpage!

This event is part of FutureLab Europe’s Skill Up! project.

About Skill Up!

group_5Skill Up! will organise a series of social entrepreneurship workshops to empower young, vulnerable and marginalised groups in Greece and Norway. By bringing together young asylum seekers with young professionals who have strong links to social entrepreneurship, the workshops aim to increase their chances of accessing the labour market and foster their integration into society. A video documentary of the workshops in each country will allow for transnational comparison and inform policy recommendations on how social entrepreneurship can be a vehicle for labour market integration for vulnerable groups. …read more.