A 36-months EU funded project aiming to improve third country nationals’ financial access to financial services
On February 3-4, 2022 a multistakeholder consortium of 11 project partners from 7 EU member states (Sweden, Greece, Italy, Belgium, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Croatia) met both physically and virtually to launch PLOUTOS project and set up the collaboration plan which will be followed during the project implementation. PLOUTOS is an EU project funded by the European Commission under AMIF-2020-AG-CALL-02: Reducing obstacles and promoting access to basic services for third-country nationals.
Introduction to the context
Integration in EU Member States remains a challenge not only for TCNs who are seeking to rebuild their lives but also for the local communities and authorities who envision a peaceful coexistence and prosperous life between all the people living in these communities. Unfortunately, the access to financial services (particularly at traditional banking institutions) for TCNs are hindered by the limited language proficiency, registration, legal status, lack of experience and knowledge about the (local) financial system and their product offers.
PLOUTOS aims to improve TCNs’ access to financial services which will impact the local communities by increasing TCNs’ confidence and motivation for self-employment thanks to a new skillset; it also aspires to reduce the fear and instability that comes as a result of TCNs’ dependence on the surrounding society. Thus, the main outcome of PLOUTOS is the improvement of TCNs’ financial literacy and the provision of access to a variety of financial services through language and community interpreting courses, entrepreneurship and financial literacy training, practice business programme enabling practical training of TCNs in applying their financial literacy skills on the job and innocative multi-lingual technological tools especially designed for TCNs.
”Financial literacy and access to financial services” & ”Labour market, access to public employment services and to vocational training” are the general objectives of PLOUTOS project action. PLOUTOS will help host countries recover faster from the fiscal spending shock, such as higher government spending on TCNs in the short-term, as TCNs gain financial independence; at the same time it will further enhance the medium-term benefits from TCNs in-flow as a result of faster integration into the labour market and new investments in the local economies. As a medium- to long-term benefit, PLOUTOS will contribute to a qualitative change in the national human capital.
The diversity of partner countries in numbers of TCNs, in the level of experience in the implementation of integration initiatives, in funds available for such initiatives will help them support each other in different areas and exchange views and experiences in order to achieve the optimum results for the integration of TCNs in the financial communities of host countries. At local level, PLOUTOS also contributes to the priorities of the EU Urban Agenda, especially to the partnership for inclusion of migrants and refugees. PLOUTOS will boost cities’ innovation potential and investments, as statistically immigrants start businesses at higher rate than locals, create jobs, and thus contribute to overcoming the problem of urban poverty.
PLOUTOS aspires to unlock the huge potential of TCNs and, consequently, the economic growth of host countries through its broad contributions to a set of activities. During the first stage of PLOUTO’s implementation, the consortium conducted an outreach campaign in order to identify 30-40 (40% women) beneficiaries per pilot country. From this pool, at least 30 TCNs will attend the training about financial literacy and business language which will be started in September 2022 in 6 pilot countries. In addition, during the first semester the involved organizations completed the desk research about existing literature in financial literacy/business language and field research through a multilingual structured questionnaire for identification of barriers and needs during financial inclusion of TCNs. The next steps are the development of business language and financial literacy curricula, the designing of technological tools focused on TCNs and practice in order to apply their financial literacy skills on the job.
PLOUTOS is implemented with the support of the European Union’s Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund.