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Entrepreneurship Programme

The Capacity Entrepreneurship Programme is designed to unlock the entrepreneurial potential of persons with refugee and migrant backgrounds, in addition to supporting projects creating impactful solutions for displaced communities.

Our bilingual incubator is designed to help founders transform ideas into concrete businesses or projects ready to enter the Swiss market.

Using a blended learning approach, our incubator for early-stage entrepreneurs includes:

  • In-Person and Online Workshops with expert trainers
  • Access to our eLearning Platform packed with resources & self-guided videos, accessible 24/7
  • Support from Mentors and expert Coaches from the Swiss business community, and connection to local business networks
  • Personal support from a dedicated Team Member
  • Membership in a growing, vibrant and supportive community of peers
The incubator is divided into two phases: LAUNCH (Ideation) and BOOST (Market Entry) with an additional learning track, ELEVATE, open to programme Alumni.

By the end of our programme, participants will have the tools and network they need to successfully launch their business in Switzerland, including a proof of concept for their minimum viable product or service, a completed business roadmap using (Social) Business Model Canvas, a killer pitch-deck and persuasive elevator pitch.

You are a good fit for our programme if:
  • you have a refugee background or immigrated from a Non-EU country (with priority for those at humanitarian risk)
  • you have a valid residency permit for Switzerland, for eg; status as an asylum seeker (Permit N/S) or as a recognised refugee or migrant (Permit B/C) OR temporarily admitted person (Permit F/L) in Switzerland
  • you are an individual or a team with an impactful and viable idea for a purpose-driven business, for-profit or non-profit initiative. (Special consideration given to businesses owned by, hiring or offering services to refugee communities.)
  • you have a minimum B2 proficiency in English or German
  • you are able to commit to 15 hrs/month to attend training in addition to the developing business. (The program is not suggested for people working full-time)
  • you can travel to Zurich for in-person sessions.

Programme FAQ’s

What is the approach of the Capacity entrepreneurship programme?

Through tested methodologies such as Lean Startup, Design Thinking and Effectuation, participants develop their creative thinking for problem-solving and apply it to all business areas of their projects. 

Aspiring entrepreneurs get access to more than a business curriculum. They also receive guided training that includes finding their own measure of success and learning about themselves, their skills, and how to navigate the entrepreneurial journey. A personal development process that also enhances and transforms their professional career. 

Where is the programme based?

We are currently based in Zurich and accept participants from the greater Zurich area. If you live outside of the greater Zurich area and would like to participate, please note that we are not able to cover any accommodation costs you may have as a result of the programme. If you need support to cover some of the transport costs contact us.

What does it cost to participate?

The cost of our programme is divided as follows:
LAUNCH Proposed participation fee CHF 300*.
BOOST Proposed participation fee CHF 400*.

These costs include 15+ workshops led by trainers, 30+ hours of mentoring, unlimited personal coaching, access to a community of 200+ members and food and drinks at in-person events.

*Flexible payment options available. If a full contribution is not possible for you at this time, please let us know. We surely can find together a suitable solution.

What language does the mentoring programme use?

Our programme takes place in English and German. We expect all our participants to have at least an intermediate level B1-B2 in German or English.

Oftentimes workshops, groups sessions and events are in English with simultaneous translation in German.

Mentoring takes place in the language the mentor and the mentee agree on.

What can a mentor do for an entrepreneur?

At Capacity, we focus on supporting individuals to achieve their full personal and professional potential through entrepreneurship. Through the entrepreneurship programme, we provide each participant with a mentor who will help them to understand the basic concepts around Lean Start-Up Methods.

Our mentors are individuals with experience in Swiss businesses or start-ups contexts, often both in Switzerland and internationally, and with local networks that they will use to support their mentees.

Typically, a mentor will support a mentee on the following fronts:

  • Ideation: mentors will support mentees to shape your idea into a realistic business model
  • Administrative: mentors may help mentees understand forms (especially if mentee does not speak German and they do)
  • Pitch: mentors typically support their mentees by co-developing a pitch and identify methods to approach potential partners and funders
  • Resource allocation: A mentor may support a mentee in finding the necessary resources to test and launch the start-up idea
  • Network: A mentor can help a mentee by building connections and a network within Zurich and beyond
  • Learn from their mentee: Many of our mentors state that they also learn a lot from their mentees. Mentors will receive comprehensive training on how to benefit and learn from their mentee’s wealth of experiences

A mentor will NOT:

  • Become a business partner unless both parties are happy with this arrangement
  • Fund or otherwise financially support their mentee’s project
  • Necessarily be an expert in the mentee’s exact same field. Mentees are expected to bring specialist knowledge for their respective fields.
  • Necessarily support their mentee after the end of the Programme

Does Capacity provide project funding or connect Entrepreneurs to investors?

Capacity does not directly fund projects, but we do our best to help you help yourself. We support you to resourcefully develop your concept on a budget, and to create tools and learn techniques to find the financing you seek. Some of the topics we offer include budgeting, assessment of investment readiness, effective practices for pitching your project, tips and tricks for fundraising, and introduction to crowdfunding. We also support the visibility of your project or business within our broader networks, from which past participants have found leads for partnerships, contracts and more.

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