5 Questions To Joris Amin, PHD Candidate at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, focusing on Newcomer Entrepreneurship

Five questions to Joris Amin

5 Questions To Joris Amin, PHD Candidate at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, focusing on Newcomer Entrepreneurship

We asked 5 questions to Joris about his role in contributing to Forward·Inc’s impact measurement with the insights from my research on Newcomer Entrepreneurship!

Hi Joris! Tell us about your history with Forward·Inc.

I started my PhD and my journey at Forward·Inc in 2019.  I started as a student consultant for one team, then later became a team facilitator for three teams. Since then I’ve been in and out of Forward with all kinds of different activities. So for instance, with the insights from my research, I helped set up Forward’s impact measurement. Also, before each Forward Incubator cohort, I use my research to give a workshop to Business Coaches and Student Consultants on how these insights can be translated into practice when working with newcomers.

Can you tell us more about your past research and Forward·Inc’s role?

In a nutshell, it’s about newcomers views of themselves, their identity and how this changes. People who who come to the Netherlands as newcomers have to reinvent themselves. They may have been a doctor, or might have been upper class of society, but now they have this marginalized label of being a “refugee”, which is oftentimes associated with helplessness and dependency. So how do they re-invent themselves? In an entrepreneurship setting, people are much less limited in becoming who they want to be. My research is basically about who is better able to overcome this identity ‘crisis’, how they do that and how Forward facilitates this. At Forward there’s more so a model of “supporting” rather than “helping”. There’s more trust and agency given to the individual rather than just setting them on a path and telling them what the destination should be. This is a more open-ended journey in a more supportive environment, as opposed to the municipality who often decides where and how the journey should go.

What are currently working on?

On one hand working with the impact measurement of Forward. And then as a follow up on my previous qualitative study based on interviews, I did a quantitative study. I’m now comparing whether the benefits of the different models like “supporting” (i.e., Forward), compared to the municipality’s approach, increases self esteem, sense of belonging to society, sense of purpose in life, sense of control and mental well-being. I’m currently analysing the data, which looks very promising, but I’m not done with that analysis yet!

What are you most proud of of your of in your journey?

First and foremost, I’m proud of having been part of Forward’s “support” model. There are very few things in my professional life that I get more joy from than seeing the fruits of of the support that we give. For instance, last week I got a couple of pictures from Ola Shams who now has her food truck, which looks stunning. That was all her. She did that. But I like to think that I was at least some part of her journey, albeit a supporter, on the sideline. So that is super fulfilling to see. The second part I’m proud of is that I have been able to highlight  this identity-related aspect of the larger ‘refugee integration’ storyand provide an academic perspective that paints a more nuanced, more empowering picture.

What qualities do you believe makes someone a great fit for the Forward·Inc community?

It’s gonna sound so cliche, but when you see the good in people, when you see the can instead of the can’t do. So for instance, a Business Coach that is focused on strengths rather than where someone comes up short. I think that’s an important quality for people who want to volunteer at Forward.

Secondly, being people focused rather than outcome focused. There’s that saying: give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, or teach him out the fish and eat for a lifetime. I have to remind myself of this sometimes. We work towards this goal of creating a business, but even if that business might not be a success, they might have become either a better entrepreneur or, because of their entrepreneurial qualities, are better able to navigate the Dutch labor market.

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