The Directorate of Labor offers the project Initiative to unemployed entrepreneurs. Its main objective is to support jobseekers in creating their own employment opportunity. If you have a business idea, whether it is an innovation and /or development project, a production, or a service, the program allows you to receive guidance and assistance to develop your idea. Participants will assess the market’s demand for their product and/or service and create a business plan to determine the efficiency of their project and whether it can meet the requirements to create employment. 

Applications in Initiative are closed during the summer.

It will be possible to apply after 15th of August.


Requirements to participate in the Initiative program:

  • Participants must have an approved unemployment benefit entitlement and have at least six months remaining of their benefit entitlement period. 
  • The business idea is considered likely to create future employment for the jobseeker.
  • The jobseeker is prepared to familiarize themselves with the operation and establishment of companies.
  • The jobseeker cannot have an open registration on the Wage Payer’s Registry or have an ID number for calculated remuneration with tax office before applying for the program.
  • Participants commit themselves to work full time on their business idea.
  • Participants must participate in educational workshops during the contract period and be willing to receive guidance in the development of their idea.

Participants must submit a business plan or equivalent documents to The Directorate of Labor within six months of the commencement of the program. 

 All applications for this program are reviewed by a committee from The Directorate of Labor. 

Duration of the program

The duration of the training is 3 months and participants will get access to training materials about business plans. The training is in the form of videos, they are in Icelandic but with English subtitles. 

Participants get mentoring and advice once a week from a mentor and from the counsellors of the Directorate of Labour where they receive information about business plans, introductions and pitches, company form and the process of starting a company. 

The training is in a form of company workshop where participants meet every week for 12 times total. Participants commit to attend lectures once or twice a week, take active part, work on their business plan regularly and present it to the group.
The presentations consist of one 1 min speech, four 1 min status reports and two 5 min investor presentations with slides.

There is a strong emphasis in the program on peer education, that participants give each other feedback after the presentations.


At the end, a 6-12 page business plan in word form must be submitted to a supervisor who will make comment on it and the participation in the project.


Training and mentoring

The duration of the training is 3 months, and participants will be provided with closed access to a web-based training program about business plans. Furthermore, they will receive mentoring and once a week from a mentor and counsellors from the Initiative program.   

The training on the internet is in Icelandic but has English subtitles.

Participants commit to attending mentoring sessions once a week, be active in their participation, work on their business plans and take part in introductions about their business ideas when required. 

Participants must turn in their business plans to The Directorate of Labour after 3 months. They will then be called into a meeting to review the plan, the status of the project and next steps. 

The end of the project

Participants who receive a 6-month contract are required to turn in a final report and attend a final meeting with their Initiative counsellors. 

Also, they will have to confirm the following options:

They deregister from the unemployment registry and work full time at their companies (ehf)

They work part time at their companies (ehf)

They will stop working on their idea and return to seeking employment full time. 

In the last scenario, participants must sign a confirmation that they will not start running their business without first notifying The Directorate of Labour.


Application procedure

Applications are accessible on The Directorate of Labour’s website.  They are received electronically from 1st of each month to the 30/31st. The applications are evaluated and processed before the 15th of next month. All applicants receive an e-mail regarding the evaluation and the results.

Usually, the training will start in the coming month. i.e., the applications that are submitted in September are processed in October and the training starts in November.

Important: Participants are required to confirm their job search as usual but are exempt from actively seeking employment while they are working on their business idea.

Application form

For further inquiries please contact the Initiative program’s counsellors  at


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