After the cities of Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Nantes, Paris, and Strasbourg in France, it is now the turn of SINGA Marseille to launch an incubator dedicated to inclusive entrepreneurship. This incubator is aimed at newcomers (refugees, asylum seekers, etc.) and local individuals with projects related to interculturality and migration. It will provide them with free support tailored to their needs and help them build a strong network to ensure the successful launch of their projects.
Created in 2019, the SINGA Marseille association has been offering a variety of activities to foster connections between locals and newcomers (such as cultural shows, language workshops, cooking classes, and sports outings). This year, with the financial support of the BNP Paribas Foundation, the Marseille teams have decided to create a free entrepreneurial support program to promote and empower projects led by individuals from migrant backgrounds.
Laetitia Chabannes, a board member and partnership manager, reflects on the evolution of SINGA Marseille and highlights the significance of launching the Marseille incubator.
We launched SINGA in Marseille in February 2019, exactly 4 years ago! We held an information meeting with Diane, François, Sandrine, Catherine, Eva, and others (the founders of SINGA Marseille, with whom I had a few meetings beforehand). The purpose of this meeting was to provide macro information and introduce the idea of launching SINGA Marseille. From there, a group of 8 people came together and regularly collaborated through working meetings. What really connected us was the desire to build connections with newcomers by creating friendly events, gatherings, and exchanges.
Initially, we organized activities based on what people proposed, such as hiking, picnics (and generally many outdoor activities), or meeting up in cafés, while simultaneously expanding our network. We actively launched our activities in September 2019, after the summer, with the main objective of reaching out to grassroots associations that were already working with our target audience. Among them were CADA, Ramina, and OFII.
Gradually, our community grew, thanks in large part to word of mouth. Of course, the Covid pandemic slowed down the pace, but we managed to remain active on social networks to stay connected with the community.
In September 2020, we resumed activities, especially creating and developing partnerships, which allowed us to establish regular meetings with the community. For example, on Monday and Wednesday evenings, we hold cultural workshops (dance and theater classes), and on Thursday evenings, we have a permanent presence at the Cité des Associations in Marseille. In terms of partnerships, we currently work with UCPA (providing community members with swimming and climbing courses, and potentially sailing courses in the future), AAJT and Entourage (organizing football matches), Unicité (theater classes with a mix of audiences), Refugee Food Festival, Coco Velten (cooking classes), EKO! (gardening and prototyping courses), and more.
On my part, I have a strong connection with social entrepreneurship for the past 10 years, having worked at Ashoka and being responsible for the incubator at thecamp campus in Aix-en-Provence. Moreover, I support many social entrepreneurs in developing their projects.
I am driven by the desire to work on impactful projects. I arrived in Marseille in September 2017 with the intention of getting more involved in an association than before. I was already familiar with SINGA because I had participated in some events in Paris when I lived there. So, I thought that SINGA would perfectly match my expectations, and that’s when I realized there was no SINGA branch in Marseille! It was like a revelation because instead of looking for another association, I felt that this could be the kind of commitment I was seeking – to participate in creating this local branch.
This is a significant milestone and a scaling-up for us! We had already started working on the professional integration of newcomers within our community, through events like the Dream Day (a day of workshops, group activities, and one-on-one sessions to build their professional projects) in partnership with Kedge Business School. This led to the establishment of dedicated support for professional integration, such as assistance with resume creation, and the formation of mentor-entrepreneur pairs.
Building on these initial efforts, the funding from the BNP Paribas Foundation allows us to think bigger and farther. We are at the heart of the Marseille ecosystem, which is committed to social and solidarity economy. We have already formed numerous connections with local actors in social and entrepreneurial support, and SINGA Marseille aims to strengthen these ties further. The goal is to mobilize a wide range of skills and expertise, beyond the SINGA network, to provide the best possible support to our entrepreneurs. This will not only help the project leaders strengthen their networks in the region but also contribute to changing perceptions of migration by promoting intercultural encounters around social and entrepreneurial projects.
We celebrated this milestone on January 18th with an exceptional evening attended by over 130 people, including members of our community, private and public partners, and potential coaches. It will take a few more months to finalize the program, and we look forward to its official launch in the spring!
Yes! We warmly welcome anyone who is willing to get involved with us in this new phase, especially those who want to contribute their networks and professional skills to support our future entrepreneurs. And of course, I take this opportunity to call on all entrepreneurs (newcomers and locals) who may need a helping hand to develop their projects – our door is open!
Since 2015, BNP Paribas has been strongly committed to supporting the reception of refugees through a program deployed in 11 European countries. This program aims to assist around thirty associations that help refugees learn the language of their host country and facilitate their professional integration. The program is led by the BNP Paribas Foundation, and its support has also been reinforced to respond to the Ukrainian crisis, reaching nearly 17 million euros.
The new partnership with SINGA since 2022 aligns with the BNP Paribas Foundation’s goal of consolidating its assistance in fostering better professional integration for refugees in Europe. This three-year support aims to accompany the association in opening incubators in Marseille and Barcelona.
This new collaboration with SINGA is in line with our commitment to refugees: supporting quality programs for better professional integration. We are particularly delighted with this program developed in Marseille, a city where BNP Paribas has a strong presence, including the recent establishment of a Headquarters for Equality of Opportunities and privileged links with local associations. – Isabelle Giordano, General Delegate of the BNP Paribas Foundation