In the heart of Lisbon, there is a historical neighbourhood that holds the title of the most multicultural neighbourhood of the Portuguese capital city: Mouraria. 6000 people of over 50 nationalities live in Mouraria. The historical challenges that the inhabitants still face are many, but the people are resilient and in 2008 an association was born to help Mouraria flourish again: “Renovar Mouraria”. This association was created by a group of residents and consists of multiple educational and cultural community initiatives that aim to revitalise the neighbourhood.
Among the several projects that are currently undergoing in “Renovar Mouraria”, there is ““MourariUP””.
“MourariUP” is a project that offers support to migrant businesses. For two years, the project helped migrants in Mouraria to create and develop their own businesses. Now, the project aims to follow up on migrant entrepreneurs to help them develop their full potential through a collaborative and intercultural community.
“MourariUP” is kind of a business school for migrants that offers training, bootcamps and a fair to participants. Members of the project can participate in diverse ways: entrepreneurs have the chance to develop their personal and professional skills and entrepreneurial spirit through the training offered by professionals; mentors are allowed to share their knowledge and experience with newly migrant entrepreneurs; facilitators share their knowledge with entrepreneurs through participative training on entrepreneurship; and volunteers support the development of the entire entrepreneurial ecosystem of Mouraria.
According to Ivan Bustillo, coordinator of the project, “MourariUP” is a means of empowering economically some of the most marginalised groups in the city by helping them to build tools that allow them to develop their own projects and ideas. Bustillo also believes that “MourariUP” is a great opportunity to empower migrant women, as many of the migrant entrepreneurs that arrive at the project are mostly women linked to domestic work. Ichaa, Francisca and Anabela are great examples of the project’s contribution to the integration and empowerment of migrant businesswomen.
Ichaa, a 22-year-old young woman from Bangladesh, followed her family to Portugal last year. This year, with the help of her family, she opened a clothing store in Mouraria – Vibe Finery. Her business is part of the “MourariUP” project.
Francisca and Anabela created “Sabor das Manas”, an events and catering business, in Luanda, Angola. Together with 3 more sisters, they decided to move to Portugal to look for better life conditions and healthcare. The sisters decided to bring African cuisine and culture to Portugal and continue their business in Lisbon. However, they struggled to adapt to local gastronomy and make their business succeed. After some struggle, they found out about “Renovar a Mouraria” and ““MourariUP”” and learned about the entrepreneurial program training offers, which has helped them restructure and reframe their business model. Now, they are active members of the community and take African-inspired food and decorations to the project’s events.
The project is funded by BPI and Fundação “La Caixa” through the Prémio Solidário 2020.
If you would like to learn more about “Renovar a Mouraria” and “MourariaUp”, go to www.renovaramouraria.pt.
Ph credits: Wikipedia