top of page
  • Writer's pictureSusanne Klimmer, IFA

AUSTRIA: MIGRANT ENTERPRISES – A service by the Vienna Business Agency (Wirtschaftsagentur Wien)

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

The number of people with a migrant background in Austria is increasing. “Migrant enterprises” is an initiative by the Vienna Business Agency that aims to increase the support measures for immigrant and ethnic minority communities by offering tailor-made support when founding their own businesses in the Austrian capital city.

Responsible organisation:

IFA - Internationaler Fachkräfteaustausch

(International Young Workers Exchange)

What problem or issue has the innovative practice aimed to tackle?

23% of the total population in Austria have a migrant background, 8% of which are third country nationals. In Vienna, one third of the 1.9 million inhabitants were born in another country.

Foreigners or foreign-born people tend to be primarily workers whereas Austrians are mostly employed or civil servants. 8% of non-Austrian working citizens are self-employed. Due to

- language barriers,

- discrimination and

- difficulties of the employer in recognizing foreign qualifications,

migrants are often disadvantaged in finding employment. Some migrants start to run their own businesses, many of them because they lack other employment alternatives.

Therefore, target-group-oriented preparation, counselling and training for (future) self-employment and the founding of a company is needed.


The objective of Migrant Enterprises is to unlock the economic potential of migrants, increase their welfare and contribute to the positive economic development of the City of Vienna. The target group includes start-ups, company founders and young entrepreneurs, as well as one-person businesses and micro-enterprises in the early foundation phase up to a maximum of three years after the founding.

The services of Migrant Enterprises include:

– Free of charge founding, financing and expansion coaching

– Free of charge bilingual workshops

– Information on funding

– Contact point for flexible and special hired office spaces

– Information about services provided by the City of Vienna

– Help and advice when dealing with official authorities and departments

The entrepreneurial support offered by Migrant Enterprises is organised in 3 STEPS, which function like a funnel, filtering the aspiring entrepreneurs and strengthening their vision.

A. “Taster Course”

The courses are organised as one-day-workshops with a maximum of 15 participants (Start-up Academy workshops).

A study conducted in 2013 on the part of the Vienna Business Agency revealed that the migrant companies show a low urban mobility. Migrants tend to establish companies where they live. This conclusion was translated in a phenomenally simply but clever idea to organise the start-up workshops directly in the districts where the most migrants live. In order to gain a large spectrum and achieve a high participation, the Vienna Business Agency cultivated a partnership with the Adult Education Centres (Volkshochschulen, VHS) in these districts. Since 2013 these “taster courses” and all other academy workshops are free of charge and are organised in 17 different languages. The “taster courses” are open to everyone whether or not they have a business idea.

B. Orientation Conversation 1 to 1

Around 500 talks annually.

In the next step, the ones who have a business idea and are eager to proceed further are invited to an orientation conversation in the facilities of the Vienna Business Agency. This part is more of an individual business support and needs’ assessment. The advisors don’t follow a directory or specific guideline in these orientation conversations. They rather do a reality-check of business goals and personal ambitions versus life conditions and restraints. In this scheme they also scratch on topics such as trade law, legal forms, social insurance and taxes, and location factors, depending on the phase and the needs of the aspiring founder.

C. Coaching Sessions

1/3 of the orientation talks move on to the next and final step of the support program.

The coaching sessions are further offered in the mother language of the aspiring entrepreneur. There are up to 4 meetings with an external consulting agency. This step is about the substantiation of the business: from the legal part, the starting capital, financing plan, etc. These consulting coaching sessions are paid by the Vienna Business Agency (they amount to 150€/hour).

All workshops and written information are available in 17 different languages.

What have been the achievements?

  1. Free-of-charge services include coaching, bilingual workshops (17 languages), help and advice when dealing with official authorities and departments and many other services can be provided by the Austrian Business Agency throughout the year.

  2. Successful service and support in 3 steps which works like a funnel: “Taster-Course” Workshops - Orientation Conversation (around 500 annually) - Coaching Sessions

  3. Future entrepreneurs are supported in using their already acquired skills, even if they are not (yet) recognised by the Education System and/or the Labour market in Austria or in the EU.

  4. The focus lies on supporting sustainable foundations.

  5. There is a long list of success stories on the website of the Vienna Business Agency (

  6. Special services for women that have been used by 4,000 female entrepreneurs over the last years.

Who was involved and how?

Founders of the Vienna Business Agency are the City of Vienna, the Vienna Chamber of Commerce, the UniCredit Bank Austria AG and the Erste Bank AG (1982)

Staff + Counsellors of the Vienna Business Agency are working on the initiative.

More information:

Download PDF • 382KB


bottom of page