The advice below is for general guidance only. You should check all information before acting on it.
What will be the costs to set up the business and run it for the first few months?The initial cost depends on the activity of your business, on the expenses to open your shop, on the salaries of your employees (included yours) and the taxes.
How important is it to know the local language?
Very very important. Office clerks and your customers normally speak only Italian.
There are several opportunities to learn Italian. You could google “corsi gratuiti italiano per stranieri”. In Lazio, for example, check this page: http://www.romamultietnica.it/news/corsi_di_lingua_italiana_per_stranieri.html
Which local organizations can help free of charge? E.g. Business clubs, business advisory organizations etc?
You can seek advice from the associations supporting your fellow countrymen and women, and from the entrepreneurs offices.
There are several association aimed to integration of refugees and immigrants, often especially dedicated to specific nationals. You can find a database here: http://www.integrazionemigranti.gov.it/Areetematiche/PaesiComunitari-e-associazioniMigranti/Pagine/mappatura-associazioni.aspx
Chambers of Commerce can also provide legal and practical advice:
The local SUAP office.
What type of refugee business exists in your local community?
It is always advisable to keep updated about what’s going on. You could obtain this information by word of mouth, but there are also social media, and even Internet communities for migrants and refugees starting a business.
https://mygrants.it is a community for refugees and immigrants entrepreneurs. By joining it, you could be informed about this kind of initiatives in your area.
What is a mobile business?
In a mobile business you go to your customers to deliver items or services. (e.g. a food delivery services, or hairdresser at home, or cook at home)
Where should my business be located?
This depends on the type and scope of the business and the type and scope of your customer base.
Where do you plan to get your financial resources to start the business?
There are several ways to obtain financial support. You could also consider taking part in public contests for startups.
For example, Lazio region has launched the program “Startup Lazio!” http://www.regione.lazio.it/rl/generazioni/startup-lazio/
Also, you could ask for advice at Grameen Italia Foundation, the first centre in Italy dedicated to studying microcredit programs. Site: https://www.grameenitalia.it/
How do I increase the reputation of my refugee-owned business?
There are, of course, many strategies to do that. But in the framework of European Projects, refugee and migrant entrepreneurs can raise their profile taking part to events organized by organizations such as Startups Without Borders.
On March 28th, 2019, the first event for migrant entrepreneurs from across Italy, called “Orizzonti Startup” took place in Rome: https://www.unilink.it/orizzonti-startup/
What cultural differences should I be aware of?
Of course it depends from which country you came from. Be warned that there are also many cultural differences even between different regions of Italy.
To compare cultural differences between your country and Italy you could try this tool
Notice that not all countries are present.
What kind of bureaucracy do I have to be aware of?
To obtain detailed information on how to open a business you can contact the local SUAP “Sportello Unico delle Attività Produttive” (One-Stop Shop” office) offered by the Chambers of Commerce at no cost. You could also browse a database, set up by the Chamber of commerce, specifying the necessary steps for opening different type of businesses.
One-stop shop (SUAP) http://www.impresainungiorno.gov.it/web/guest
Can I start right away?
This depends. Some businesses/professions require a license or an authorization. E.g. if you want to start a business involving food preparation and/or distribution, you must get the relevant sanitary authorizations and qualification both for the place you use to process food and for the people involved.
What type of business (business format) can you set up in this country and what are the differences?
You can set up an “Impresa Individuale” (single-person business), a “Società” (multi-person business), or a technological Startup.
In a single-person business you are the only legal person responsible and you answer to your legal obligations with all your personal belongings. You can hire personnel in your business.
A Society is a business with more than one responsible person. There are many types of Society, depending on the legal obligations you choose.
A Startup produces high technology goods or services.
What are the legal requirements?
If you have not a Refugee status, you must have a valid “Permesso di soggiorno” (stay permit) that specifically allows you to work. If you have refugee status, you can start a business.
You must prove that you have enough money available to open and manage your business.
You can ask for more details to the nearest One-stop shop (SUAP) office.
How do you set up or register a business?
This could depend on your activity. The main way to register a business is through the “Comunicazione Unica” (single registration) to the “Registro Imprese” (business registry), that allows you to send your new business details to all the involved offices at once.
What are general business taxes to pay?
IRPEF: state taxes on your personal income. The tax quota increases with salary, from 23% to 43%.
IRES: state taxes on businesses (24%).
IRAP: regional taxes (3.9%).
IRI: a businessman can choose to pay for the next 5 years her/his salary taxes at the same quota then the business IRES taxes (24%), by betting that it will be lower than her normal IRPEF quota.
IVA: (value added tax) is paid/deduced on services and goods sold/bought by the business. The tax quota is normally 22% except for some goods/services (4% and 10%).
It is important to check carefully and to get help, as rules often change.
It is not easy to summarize Italian fiscal system, these are only some basic hints about 2019 fiscal laws:
Personal taxes summary for incomes in fiscal year 2018: https://www.pmi.it/impresa/contabilita-e-fisco/52519/irpef-scaglioni-e-aliquote.html
But, if you start a new business, opening a “Partita IVA” with a simplified accountancy system, you can choose not to pay IRES but a so-called “flat tax” which usually allows you to pay less: https://www.informazionefiscale.it/partita-iva-2019-nuove-regole-novita
What happens to the integration payment when I start a business?
In Italy refugees get only a small sum, called pocket money (from 45 to 75 euros a month). Often, partly or in whole, it is not given in cash, but in vouchers to obtain food and services. There is no integration payment.
Would it be a good idea to get a mentor to help me in my plans?
Yes. There are several organizations and groups which can help refugees to start up their own business.
Moreover, it is always advisable to hire an accountant to handle all the administrative and tax details, so that you can focus on your business.
A good start point is project MEnt (Migrant Entrapreneurs team-up with mentors) site: https://www.mentproject.eu
If you plan to start a venture which may have a relevant social, cultural and/or environmental value, you cold join Make a Cube3 : https://makeacube.com
Other information can be found at the local Chamber of Commerce https://www.cameradicommercio.it
What is the Business Model Canvas (BMC)?
The Business Model Canvas or BMC is a way of telling the story of your business in a handy A4 sized diagram. The diagram shows 9 sectors that anyone starting a business should be able to describe. That is why we called the project 9 Conversations. The word model is used because you should be able to explain how each sector of the picture relates to the others.
Find out more about what the Business Model Canvas is in this video (German and Italian subtitles are available by clicking on the cog icon in the bottom right hand side).
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