What precisely does a Gründerpaten do? Simply click on a question and the answer will appear.

The goal of the pilot project is to bring together refugees who want to start a business in Berlin-Brandenburg with entrepreneur from the region. The aim is to offer them help in setting up their businesses. The refugees are given one-to-one support and provided with a business network by entrepreneurs who volunteer to help them and offer their expertise, the so-called Gründerpaten.

Basically, the Gründerpaten guide the refugees on the road to professional independence. They offer the refugees support in the form of so-called “programme options” which give some structure to the Gründerpaten mentoring partnership. Both refugees and Gründerpaten can choose which programme options they are interested in before the programme starts. You can find further information on the programme options in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 deals with the time which is expected to be needed to implement the various programme options. As well as the programme options, the Gründerpaten also have some other high level tasks. These include organisational tasks during and after the individual programme options. However, the Gründerpaten don’t need to become micro-managers. All the tasks are summarised in writing in the ‘Mentor Kit’ which every Gründerpaten receives from the project office. The project office will also oversee the whole process and the staff are always available as a point of contact for both the refugees and the Gründerpaten.

The programme options make it possible for the project to run a smooth course. They should therefore be run as prescribed by the project office. There is a separate document available and the topic will be discussed in detail in our Basic Principles Seminar. The individual programme options can be amended, but this must be agreed with the project office beforehand. The programme options available are as follows:

  • Work shadowing in a company:
    The goal here is to allow the refugee to gain some initial experience of German business culture. They are given an opportunity to test out their specialist and intercultural competence as well as their language skills. The Gründerpaten try to help the refugees see the point of view of both the employees and of the company management. The work shadowing placement is unpaid. The aim is to give prospective business founders an idea of what it is like working in a company on a full-time basis. Before starting the placement, a confidentiality agreement is signed, as well as an agreement on the work shadowing placement; the project office can supply the templates for these.
  • Mentoring partnership:
    The goal is to give the refugee one-to-one support in the setting-up process. The Gründerpaten pass on their knowledge of start-ups to the prospective founders. With their market and industry expertise, they can offer useful support and they can also help with bureaucratic processes (legal forms, financing, dealing with the authorities). As the start-up process advances, the mentoring will need to be more specific.
  • Team or tandem start-ups:
    The goal here is to make preparations for a joint business start-up. The Gründerpaten and the refugees develop a business model and ideally implement it together. In the ideal situation, their areas of expertise will complement one another. The Gründerpaten can also pass on their market and industry expertise and their knowledge of bureaucratic processes. They can provide help with their German language skills as well.
  • Business takeover:
    The goal in this case is to initiate the process of succession and prepare for a takeover. The refugees can benefit here from the experience of a senior level entrepreneur who can prepare the takeover process of his/her own company with the refugee on a one-to-one basis.

In addition to these programme options, there are two further ways in which the refugees are given support:

  • Training:
    Not all the questions and needs of the refugees can be can be covered by the Gründerpaten. That’s why the project office also offers their own training courses. These include the Basic Principles Seminar and a Business Etiquette course to provide tips on business formalities.
  • The Wirtschaftsjunioren’s network:
    Having a well-functioning business network is an important pre-condition for running your own business. The Wirtschaftsjunioren are organised into ten groups in the pilot area. Various ideas are in the planning stages, including joint events, such as talks or visits to companies. These will give the refugees a good opportunity to start building up a business network here in Germany.

The time required for your role as Gründerpaten will be as follows (guideline values):

The figures given in the table only cover the mentoring meetings, but not their organisation or arrangement. So, for example, with a work shadowing placement, the Gründerpaten will also have the task of organising the placement within the company. For team and tandem start-ups, as well as the mentoring meetings, continuous collaboration between the Gründerpaten and the refugee will be necessary. After all, the goal in this case is a joint start-up.

This applies in a similar way to the business takeover option. This might be preceded by a work shadowing placement, so that the refugee can find out more about the company. Continuous collaboration in addition to the set meetings is definitely a sensible idea.

Gründerpaten are entrepreneurs or employees in management positions; they can also be students (Business Studies or MBA) or simply people who are interested in start-ups. An ideal Gründerpate should be highly motivated to support refugees in their efforts to set up a business. They should be keen to support their protégés in their endeavours, encouraging them to gain the right skills and know-how and to set up their own business networks. In the selection of Gründerpaten, the project office will consider:

  • intercultural skills
  • interest in people from other cultures
  • knowledge relevant to start-ups
  • availability in terms of time (min. 10 hours per month)

The project office intends to make the Gründerpaten’s task as straightforward as possible. Gründerpaten will find that the project office staff are always easy to get a hold of so that any issues can be sorted out quickly and easily. You can find all the contact information in Chapter 8. The basic steps to becoming a Gründerpate are as follows:

  1. Registration:
    The Gründerpaten register their interest with the project office or fill in an online questionnaire which asks for details of matching criteria (e.g. preferred programme option and availability).
  2. Initial Interview:
    The Gründerpaten are invited to a one-to-one first interview at the project office. In this interview, their specialist knowledge will be examined to ascertain whether they are suitable. Their own expectations and intercultural skills will also be considered, as well as their personal goals and wishes. It is also helpful if the Gründerpaten can identify with the objectives of the programme.
  3. Matching:
    This step involves looking at which of the programme options the Gründerpaten can offer and whether there is enough time available on both sides. Geographical distance may also play a role here. As soon as a good match is found, the project office will inform the Gründerpate immediately. In the matching process, the project office will also compare the stated and established areas of competence of the refugees and Gründerpaten. You can find further information on the matching process in (10).
  4. Preparation:
    The Gründerpaten are prepared for their future roles in a Basic Principles Seminar (see Chapter 7). After the Basic Principles Seminar, the Gründerpaten receive the ‘Mentor Kit’. This contains a written summary of all the content of the Basic Principles Seminar and full details on implementation of the programme options. The project office also provides the Gründerpaten with a copy of the paperwork which the refugees will be preparing.
  5. Start and implementation of the options:
    There will be a kick-off event for the Gründerpaten mentoring partnerships. This will be the first time that the respective groups of refugees and Gründerpaten will meet. Both parties are welcome to contact the project office with tips or suggestions at any time. In the course of the individual programme options, there are also plans for feedback loops, as well as a final round of discussion.
  6. Closure:
    Once the selected programme option has been successfully concluded, the Gründerpaten will receive an official certificate from the project office. There are also plans for some public events. As well the participants and the Gründerpaten, representatives of various public organisations will also be invited.

Each Gründerpate is prepared for the mentoring partnership in a Basic Principles Seminar. Over the course of this seminar, the tasks of the Gründerpaten are described for each respective programme. They will also be given intercultural training and provided with background knowledge on refugee start-ups.
Apart from this, each Gründerpate will also be given their Mentor Kit at the seminar.

You can register via e-mail with the project office, quoting your preferred programme option and your availability (startupyourfuture@wjd.de). As of the end of August, you will find all the key information on the Gründerpaten programme on www.startupyourfuture.de.

The minimum requirements for the refugees have been set quite low in order to reach a good number of potential founders. The refugees should, however, be capable of operating confidently in the German business world – so they must have adequate language skills and good prospects for staying in the country. The project office will also make a detailed record of the refugees’ skills and needs. This also allows them to get to know the refugees and be able to reach out to them on a personal level.

The minimum requirements for the refugees are:

  • recognised refugee status, or asylum seekers with good prospects of staying in Germany, German B1/English B2
  • interest in starting a business – the project office does not necessarily require them to have previously been self-employed

Some refugees may be interested in setting up a business in professions which are subject to restrictions. The project office will try to provide information on this early on. The recognition process for qualifications, if possible, can be set in motion, regardless of residency status. This should be done as soon as possible for professional choices which are subject to restrictions, so that the plans for the start-up can represent a realistic outlook for the refugee.

The refugees’ skills and knowledge are recorded by the project office using standardised questionnaires and interviews. Various criteria are considered, such as:

  • Level of education
  • Language skills
  • Work experience
  • Industry expertise
  • Commercial experience
  • Founder personality traits
  • Recognition of qualifications

The project office carries out the matching process on a case-by-case basis. They aim to set up mentoring partnerships which are as well suited and needs-oriented as possible. The key criteria for the matching process are:

  • Location
  • Preferred programme option
  • Industry specialism
  • Mentor and refugee’s availability
  • Gender (if the refugee has requested a same-sex mentor)

The interview process is in part automated and the form can be completed on the website in a low-threshold procedure (www.startupyourfuture.de) ;the next step involves the project office conducting a personal interview with the Gründerpaten. The refugees will also be asked to attend an interview. The project office will then select the most fitting pairs, matching up the refugees with the most suitable Gründerpaten.

Yes, of course! The project office is always happy to receive suggestions. They will then get in touch with the interested parties.

Ben Bügers
Tel.: 030 20308-1528
E-Mail: ben.buegers@wjd.de
Start-Up Your Future: Mentoring partnerships with Gründerpaten
Breite Straße 29
10178 Berlin

Was macht ein Gründer genau? Bitte klicke auf eine Frage, um eine Antwort zu erhalten.

No matter if you are from Syria, Ghana, Egypt, Pakistan, Iran, Afghanistan or Eritrea – we welcome all refugees and asylum seekers who want to start their own business.

To participate, you need to:

  • live in Berlin or Brandenburg,
  • be a recognised refugee or an asylum seeker with an Aufenthaltsgestattung (preliminary residence permit) and a good chance of recognition,
  • know German (at least to level B1) or English (at least to level B2),
  • and, most importantly, have the intent and courage to turn your interesting business idea into a real start-up.

Start-Up Your Future has a flexible structure. However, there are five fixed dates and we kindly ask you to take your time to attent.

  • the first meeting with Start-Up Your Future
  • the Kick-off event
  • the meetings with your mentor
  • at least two trainings/workshops

These are your tasks in the project:

  • to ensure that your cooperation with your mentor is positiv and constructive
  • aprreciate the voluntary engagement of your mentor and meet him with understanding
  • read all the information the Start-Up Your Future team provides you with.
  • ask questions and get in touch if you don´t understand everything
  • stick to deadlines and meetings!
  • take your time for the mentoring and your business development
  • prepare for the meetings with your mentor
  • provide us with feedback. We need it 🙂

We call our mentors Gründerpaten. They are mostly entrepreneurs themselves. They work in different positions:

  • they founded their own business
  • they are students of economics
  • retired emplyoees who have business experience

All these people work voluntary to support you in your own founding!

After your registration on our website, the project office will contact you and invite you to an initial discussion in person. We want to meet you and learn more about your strengths, interests, goals and business idea. Together, we will complete a questionnaire that will tell us important facts about your skills and your life situation. This questionnaire will help us match you with your Gründerpate. Once you have been matched successfully, you and your sponsor will be assigned a group. New groups start every month. During the induction event, you will meet your Gründerpate and the other pairs. This is when your preferred programme module begins and you start meeting your Gründerpate regularly. At the same time, you will take the training component together with your group. We will ask you and your Gründerpate for feedback on a regular basis. After the closing event, your participation in Start Up Your Future will be complete. During this event, we will celebrate your progress with you, your group and your Gründerpaten. If you have met all requirements, you will receive your Start Up Your Future certificate.


The Gründerpaten will not be able to address all your needs, questions and wishes. Start Up Your Future offers specific training courses to cover any additional issues.
Mandatory training courses:

  • Introduction to self-employment
  • Business model canvas training
  • Foundation planning game

Optional training courses:

  • Needs-based training courses (e.g. foundations of business administration, tax audits, labour law, etc.)
  • Finding your way in the start-up jungle

If you need more in-depth training, we will also put you in contact with other partners and organisations.

The mentoring program runs over the course of four months. In this time, you should at least meet eight times with your mentor. As the project is flexible and the organisation of the meetings is the responsibility of your and your mentor, you should share your contact details as soon as possible!


During the matching process, we compare your skills and wishes to those of the available Gründerpaten. Besides your availability, the best match will be determined on the basis of your industry, skills, distance and potential gender preferences.

Of course! We welcome anyone.

Do you have any friends, neighbours or relatives who meet the requirements and wish to start a business? Tell them about us. Show them our website: https://www.startupyourfuture.de/en/ . Ask them to get in touch with us. We would love to hear from them!

At the project office, we make sure that you receive the most useful support for your individual situation and sufficient information for your upcoming start-up project.

Participants and Gründerpaten can contact one of our team members by phone or e-mail in order to resolve potential challenges quickly and easily.

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