On the path to self-employment

With the large number of Ukrainian refugees coming to the Czech Republic since the war started, the ROSE project has set out to help these refugees enter the labour market. Working with the project, the Norwegian partner has been inspired and wants to bring the model back to Norway to achieve similar results there.

The project called ROSE; “Road to self-employment for Ukrainians and other marginalised groups on the Czech labour market” is aimed at providing knowledge in the field of obtaining a trade license and starting their own business activities in the Czech Republic.

The ROSE project is supported by the Norway Grants under the Social Dialogue and Decent Work programme. The aim of this programme area is to strengthen the tripartite cooperation between employer organisations, trade unions and public authorities, and to promote decent work. The fund supports access to employment and participation in the labour market, as well as work-life balance, employee adaptability and life-long learning and public sector social dialogue, among others.  

The EU aims to strengthen social dialogue, both at the national and European level, but this ambition is not fully reflected in the EU funding possibilities for social partners. Through this programme the Norway Grants contribute to closing this funding gap.

The ROSE project aims to enhance self-employment opportunities for refugees and marginalized groups, closely aligned with the objectives of the Social Dialogue and Decent Work Programme. Through tailored training and capacity building programs, it addresses specific labour market needs and supports marginalized groups.  

Access to decent work

The Czech Republic has taken in more than 500,000 Ukrainian refugees since the beginning of the Ukrainian war. Such a significant refugee population in the Czech Republic, creates intense pressure for the sustainable integration of refugees into Czech society and the labour market.  

Facilitating their access to decent work is crucial for successful integration. Refugees and marginalized groups often face challenges when starting businesses in a new country, such as language and legal barriers and problematic recognition of their qualifications and education.  

The ROSE project proposes a specific solution to one of the legal barriers, by assisting individuals in obtaining the necessary Czech legal trade license. Additionally, the project recognizes the potential for entrepreneurial activities to extend beyond the Czech Republic, particularly with the eventual transfer of businesses back to Ukraine. This approach not only fosters entrepreneurship but also contributes to the long-term economic development of both countries while facilitating refugees' integration into the European market.   

From a ROSE event in the Czech Republic © Åsmund Prytz. SME Norway

From a ROSE event in the Czech Republic © Åsmund Prytz. SME Norway 

Skills and experience

However, many of the refugees who were forced to leave the country ran their own businesses, ran a business or worked as self-employed craftsmen and tradesmen and thus have entrepreneurial skills and experience. The main objective of this project is therefore to strengthen the effective integration of war refugees, immigrants and similarly disadvantaged groups into the Czech labour market by enabling them to start their own business activities or self-employment.

The project aims to share knowledge of business opportunities in the Czech Republic for Ukrainian refugees, migrants, and other disadvantaged groups, making it easier for them to enter the Czech labour market and become self-employed. The project consists of three main parts: an internal training trip to Norway, a roadshow in five selected Czech cities featuring educational and consulting seminars for Ukrainian refugees, and the creation of informational materials on business opportunities in the Czech Republic.  

Regarding the complementarity and added value to EU funding, the EU aims to strengthen social dialogue, both at the national and European level, but this ambition is not fully reflected in the EU funding possibilities for social partners. The Norway Grants contribute to closing this funding gap.

The project promoter for the ROSE project is Association of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises and Crafts in the Czech Republic (AMSP CR). The Association is a non-governmental, non-profit organisation representing the widest group of small and medium-sized enterprises, tradesmen and their professional associations int the Czech Republic.

AMSP CR has been defending the interests of the business community at home and abroad and has been associating small and medium-sized enterprises and small entrepreneurs on an open, non-political platform since 2001 and has now 300,000 members and associate members. 

From a ROSE event in the Czech Republic © Åsmund Prytz. SME Norway
From a ROSE event in the Czech Republic © Åsmund Prytz. SME Norway 

“I see the biggest added value of the ROSE project in providing a platform where the two seemingly separate sides, Ukrainian refugees and Czech business organisations, can meet. By inviting local representatives of Czech Trade Licensing Offices & Labour offices, state agencies for entrepreneurs & grant opportunities, as well as regional business hubs and incubators, we bridge the gap and allow for refugees to use the already existing support system that they just do not know about. And the cherry on top are our Ukrainian guest speakers who have already started their businesses. There is no better motivation than seeing that it is possible,” says Kristýna Strnadová, Senior International Project Manager at AMSP CR. She has just returned from the third roadshow of the project.


“We organized the very first roadshow exactly a year ago and since then, the progress among the Ukrainian refugees has been staggering. During our first events, we had no idea if people would find the project interesting or if we could actually target the group well, with no previous connection. The refugees were more timid, reserved and unsure about starting their own businesses in Czechia as the situation was still quite new and daunting. Compared to now when the events are so full that we don't have enough chairs for the participants. The Ukrainians come to us with concrete plans and ideas about their businesses, asking very good practical questions and showing a great amount of proactivity,” says Strnadová.


“The feedback has been tremendous so far which is what keeps us going and gives our initiative meaning. Needless to say, none of this would have happened without the support of EEA and Norway Grants and our project partner SME Norway to which we are grateful,” she continues. 

From the third roadshow in April 2024. © AMSP ČR

From the third roadshow in April 2024. © AMSP ČR

Wants to lead similar project in Norway

The Norwegian project partner SME Norway is a member-based organisation for small and medium-sized enterprises in Norway with approximately 5,500 members across the country, employing more than 25,000 workers in Norway.

Norway has a strong tradition of tripartite consultation, bringing together workers, employers and governments in formulating labour standards and policies. Through bilateral cooperation, Norwegian partners bring expertise to partners in the Beneficiary States, such as with the ROSE project.

There are many Ukrainian refugees in the Czech Republic, and the local association AMSP CR, in partnership with SME Norway, has organised more than nine events across Czech Republic to show and motivate Ukrainian refugees to start and run their own business. To be able to run their own business will help them access to the labour market and represents a good possibility for self-employment and income.

“SME Norway is very happy to be a part of the ROSE project in the Czech Republic and see that this project may have substantial positive impact on the possibilities for Ukrainian refugees to get into the labour market and start their own businesses. We would like to see such initatives take placw in Norway, as well, as Norway also has many Ukrainian refugees with a great potential for job creation by starting or maintaining their existing skills and businesses. A recent report from the Oslo Met University shows that Ukrainian refugees want more info on how to start their own business in Norway. Projects like the ROSE project in Czech Republic is a good example on how to distribute such knowledge on how to start a business,” says Jørund H. Rytman, CEO of SME Norway.  

He now wants to make use of the experiences from the ROSE project in Norway, and other EEA/EU-countries.

“As partner in the Norway Grants project ROSE, SME Norway can be in a good position to lead and participate in a similar project in Norway,” says Rytman.

Project information.