Refugee entrepreneurs are importing and exporting

Potential entrepreneurs follow sessions in customs at Microstart Antwerp


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In our previous news article "Refugees want to be entrepreneurs in Flanders!" we already explained the ambitious AZO! project. Furthermore, the role of Exchange vzw as a intermediate between refugee entrepreneurs and the private sector was highlighted. Exchange wants to broaden the knowledge of the candidate entrepreneurs about the local market and at the same time give a first push in creating a local network for the entrepreneurs via short-term internships


Importing and Exporting

Anyone who has ever stayed abroad for a longer period knows the feeling for sure. The lack of products that you have at home. Is it a Belgian beer or Belgian chocolate, your trusted TV programs or that Red Devils shirt, abroad all these products seem to have disappeared from the globe.

Many immigrants therefore choose to import products from their country of birth to their new country of residence. In this way they and their environment can consume these familiar products again and they can also promote new products in Belgium and Europe.

The export of European products to the country of origin is also an attractive option for immigrants who want to do business. They know the market in the country of origin better than many of the European producers and often have an extensive network on site.

Customs Internship

Many of the refugees in the AZO! project have the same idea and are hoping to import or export between Belgium, and in broader terms Europe, and their region of origin. That is why Exchange, together with Steve Mees, Business Correspondent Customs and Excise at FPS Finance, started a series of informative and practical sessions on import and export.

A first session took place on Tuesday 27 March in the premises of Microstart Antwerp. This session gave a global overview of the various steps, the do's and don'ts and legislation when you want to import or export. A second session that took place recently, on Wednesday 11 July, focused more on the practical side of the story. Import tariffs were calculated and customs forms filled in. On the basis of specific questions that the candidate entrepreneurs still have, a 3rd session will be organized.

In practice

Many of our candidates in the AZO! project are already engaged in importing products. A Turkish businesswoman already imports silk and processes it into a finished product for sale in Belgium.

"The money I spent on import taxes and to get the product here cost me almost as much as the product itself. Steve gave me some very concrete tips and instructions to reduce these costs in the future! "

We hope that, thanks to the customs sessions, we have an impact on the story of the many interested refugee entrepreneurs. And secretly we are also looking forward to the many new products, ranging from exotic fruit and food to oriental clothes and carpets, which we hope to see in the future in our street scene!


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