The integration of immigrants and refugees is an enormous challenge; a tangled network of complex interrelated problems that must be identified and dissected in order to find effective solutions. This motivates Ashoka’s Hello Spain, which, following the essence of it’s European initiative, aims to activate social innovation globally in order to seek solutions regarding the integration of displaced people in Spain.

Hello Europe started in Germany in 2016 in response to the so-called “refugee crisis”, identifying existing social innovation initiatives in different parts of the world that could be scaled to Germany and surrounding countries to improve integration.

The initiative is now is being implemented in Austria, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Sweden and Greece.

For Spain, Ashoka launched this initiative with a workshop in Madrid on March 13, gathering the most relevant actors in the field of migration and refugee movements to identify, categorize and better understand the situation in Spain. Attendees included professionals from the social, public, private and academic sectors, social entrepreneurs as well as representatives from migrant and refugee backgrounds, among others. At an institutional level, there were representatives of the International Organization for Migration in Spain (OIM), the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR), the Spanish government, UNHCR and the Asociación Sin Papeles of Madrid, and many more.

“Sometimes it is necessary to stop in our daily lives and think about where are we coming from and where we want to go, trying to look for innovative approaches for integration”, comments María Zabala, Focal Point of UNHCR and one of the assistants to the workshop.

“The collaboration between the different actors working in the field of immigration is not only desirable, but necessary”, explains Abdoulaye Fall, director of the program Winkomun, and one of the participants. “Immigration is very transversal and everything is interconnected, so we can only offer adapted and viable solutions through collaboration and partnerships.”

Through the creation of collaborative environments among agents interested in solving the problem, Ashoka aims to identify local and national needs, in order to subsequently determine the people, entities and social innovation solutions that will best contribute to meeting those challenges.


By: Loreto Pórtulas, Ashoka Volunteer

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