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Workplaces for refugees in Tranøy Municipality

Tranøy municipality, Norway

In Tranøy municipality, cooperation between a local entrepreneur and the Norwegian State Housing Bank has resulted in the establishment of two companies that provide jobs for refugees who live in the community. This work has had positive spin-off effects in the local community, supporting local population growth and economic development.

Fostering population growth to sustain local development

Tranøy municipality is home to approximately 1510 inhabitants of which 121 are refugees (2014). To maintain a positive local development, attracting and retaining new residents in Tranøy municipality has been an important objective. This requires construction of new housing and creation of new jobs. 

Public-private cooperation results in jobs for refugees and spin-off positive effects in the local community

A partnership between a local entrepreneur and the municipality resulted in the establishment of a building company in Tranøy which built 36 dwellings for disadvantaged people and refugees and the establishment of a cleaning company that provides employment for six refugees. The employees of the cleaning company are offered the chance to get a driver’s license – a crucial asset for one performing cleaning services in sparsely populated areas. Spin-off effects have included strengthening community spirit and increasing integration of new migrants through common events and social activities.

New arrivals strengthen community

The following outcomes are evident as a result of these initiatives:

  • Creation of new living spaces for disadvantaged social groups and refugees.
  • Growth of population is expected to result in a positive socio-economic development in the municipality in the long-term.
  • Creation of jobs for refugees has decreased state expenditure on social benefits.
  • Strengthening of community spirit and improved integration of refugees into the community.

Public/private support and a fiery-soul local entrepreneur

The demand for services – including support from larger private sector clients – was a key enabler in the establishment of the cleaning company. The engagement, commitment and passion of the local entrepreneur who initiated the idea and brought it to life also played a key role. Unfortunately, the relatively small market in the area is likely to limit the extent to which the company can expand its activities.

Strong foundations support long-term viability

The housing project was fully financed by the Norwegian State Housing Bank (Husbanken), with implementation support from the municipality and the local entrepreneur. The establishment of the cleaning company was facilitated by support provided by the Public Employment Service (NAV). Today, the cleaning company is economically viable and has demonstrated positive economic performance.

Key learnings for municipalities

Public-private partnerships have been shown to be effective in supporting social innovation in rural areas, and their possibilities could be further exploited. The presence of engaged local individuals who take initiative and dare to try is fundamentally important in driving such initiatives. Without engaged leaders these types of initiatives may be difficult to maintain in the long-term. When establishing a social enterprise, such as the cleaning service described here, the demand for services and the availability of labour must be considered in the local context. Small markets can limit the opportunities for such businesses in rural areas. 


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Page last updated September 2016.