English page

Innovative, community based, approaches to integration

Social innovation is an innovation produced by a community or group that strengthens the community, both through its outcome and through the social interactions that lead to the outcome. It can only be initiated through a social process, so requires some level of community spirit and cohesion. However, in the process of achieving its aims, it also builds, or strengthens, the capacity of the community to respond to future challenges.

Social Innovation in Local Development in the Nordic Countries and Scotland is a Web-based resource that provides practical examples of social innovation in rural and sparsely populated areas.

The project was conducted by Nordregio on behalf of the Nordic Working Group on Demography and Welfare 2013–2016, which was established by the Nordic Council of Ministers. Below are some example of case studies that deal specifically with supporting the integration of migrants into rural communities. You can read more about them, and visit the complete collection, at www.nordregio.se/socialinnovation

Example #1: Emmaus Association's pool of workers (Åland, Finland)

This social innovation was born when a Romanian beggar in Mariehamn told a local resident that he wanted to work and the local offered him small tasks in his home. The pair soon discovered that fulfilling the responsibilities of an employer is difficult for an individual person, and contacted Emmaus (a non-profit association). Now Emmaus functions as the official employer of workers undertaking a range of tasks for clients who pay Emmaus by-the-hour.

Most of the clients are elderly people in rural parts of Åland and the tasks are often too small to be of interest to entrepreneurs. The association acts as the formal employer of the workers involved, taking care of the administrative and legal requirements relating to their employment on a not-for-profit basis. The initiative provides a first step into the local labour market for new migrants while at the same time creating connections between community members. Read more about Emmaus Association's pool of workers.

Example #2. Workplaces for refugees in Tranøy Municipality

Tranøy municipality is home to approximately 1,510 inhabitants of which 121 are refugees (2014). A recent cooperation between a local entrepreneur and the Norwegian State Housing Bank (Husbanken) has resulted in the establishment of a building company which built 36 dwellings for disadvantaged people and refugees and a cleaning company that provides employment for six refugees.

This work makes an important contribution to local development objectives, supporting local population growth and economic development in a remote rural municipality. The initiative has also strengthened community spirit and improved integration of refugees into the community both from an economic perspective and by prompting common events and social activities. Read more about workplaces for refugees in Tranøy Municipality.

To learn more about these social innovations and discover many more, please visit: www.nordregio.se/socialinnovation

Senast uppdaterad


Nordens välfärdscenter | tel: +46 8 545 536 00 | | En institution under Nordiska ministerrådet