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AmCham Romania Members #StandWithUkraine The NESsT Refugee Employment Initiative open call is live - Grants available for enterprises in Romania and Poland!

The NESsT Refugee Employment Initiative open call is live - Grants available for enterprises in Romania and Poland!

by U.S. Commercial Service September 6, 2022

CALL FOR ROMANIAN & POLISH SMEs: “NESsT Refugee Employment Initiative”

NESsT together with IKEA Social Entrepreneurship and the Cisco Foundation, have partnered to launch the NESsT Refugee Employment Initiative to support fifteen enterprises that work with refugees and other underserved communities in Poland and Romania.

The initiative aims to create 2,000 jobs and improve the lives of 5,000 refugees.

The initiative will provide financing and business assistance to a cohort of impact-driven enterprises in Poland and Romania that provide refugees with long-term employment support, including career training, quality job opportunities, and additional wraparound services (e.g. mental health services, language classes, support with accessing work permits, and childcare, laptops, among others).

NESsT defines quality job opportunities as jobs that pay a living wage with an employment contract.

Who should apply?

Enterprises that show a strong commitment to adapting and/or expanding their businesses to be able to provide quality jobs to the refugee community. Entrepreneurs must demonstrate that they have the potential to grow their businesses in a sustainable manner while creating job opportunities.

  1. social & environmental impact

The initiative seeks enterprises that can improve the livelihoods of low-income and underserved communities.

  • Potential to generate over 100 jobs in the next five years by directly employing refugees, placing refugees in the labor force, or sourcing from refugee suppliers
  • Preference is given to companies already improving employment/supplier opportunities for at least 50 people from vulnerable groups (migrants and refugees, disadvantaged women, at-risk youth, people with disabilities, small producers, ethnic minorities)
  • Proven commitment to positive environmental practices and policies and willingness to continue to adopt them

  1. clear growth opportunities

The enterprise should have an attractive product or service with evidence of demand that may include:

  • Annual sales above 75,000 EUR preferred
  • Participation in a market that is expanding, or opportunity to enter a new market (customer segment, new geographic area, etc.)
  • Opportunity to grow revenues significantly and create a sustainable cost-revenue structure in the next 18-24 months
  • If the enterprise has not yet reached break-even, demonstrates the potential to reach it and become profitable in the next 18-24 months

Enterprises addressing talent gaps in the following sectors are especially encouraged to apply:

  • Information technology (IT)
  • Transportation
  • Warehousing logistics
  • Childcare and elderly care
  • Retail administration
  • Catering

  1. strong team

The enterprise should have a competent management team (2-4 people) that demonstrate the following:

  • Track record of having worked together 2+ years preferably with complementary business skills
  • Proven performance track record and ethical business conduct (reflected in policies and practices)
  • Processes in place to include decisions of key stakeholders and good business practices (i.e., annually approved budget, financial controls, competitive procurement procedures)
  • Preference for management teams that include women and other vulnerable people
  • English speaking team member to participate in the program is preferred

All selected enterprises will receive:

Ranges and types of financial instruments available:

  • EUR 35,000 to 75,000 in recoverable grants (soft, long-term, interest-free loans) per social enterprise to finance business growth efforts including both investment and working capital.
  • EUR 10,000 to 20,000 in grants per social enterprise to finance scholarships that pay for wrap-around services for refugees, including support with accessing work permits, mental health services, childcare, language courses, and laptops, etc.
  • Selected social enterprises will receive either recoverable grants or grants or both depending on their impact potential and the investment need.

How to apply?

  1. Review the application form and prepare all required information, including a video (see below).
  2. Create a short video, of no more than 3 minutes, where you explain: 

    • The business adaptation/expansion/innovation you want to implement
    • How this strategy will help you provide quality jobs for refugees
    • Why you are motivated to do this 

  3. Upload the video to YouTube and copy and paste the link into the application form when prompted.
  4. Submit the application by September 23rd, 2022.


FAQs are available here.

More details are available here.

Read more about the initiative:

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