7. Migration and Entrepreneurship

Migrants have the potential to contribute to the economic growth of both their host country and their country of origin in many ways. The focus in the literature to date has primarily been on migrant workers, and, as such, migrants’ entrepreneurial activities have received limited attention. Immigrants are often perceived as being highly entrepreneurial and potential contributors to economic growth and innovation in the host country. The importance of this group is increasingly reflected in immigration policies and the development of specific visas that aim to attract immigrant entrepreneurs. Migrant entrepreneurship is not solely comprised of traditional ethnic businesses, but is present in a wide range of sectors. The survival rate of these businesses is often relatively low; however, the number of persons employed in such businesses is substantial making this an important area for further research. At the same time, migrants often have a unique position in the home country because they have the possibility to accumulate financial, human and social capital abroad and utilize them in their country of origin. This is particularly true for the small and medium sized businesses sector and, therefore, migrants have the potential to help develop domestic markets. This makes the understanding of the relationship between migration and entrepreneurship important within the context of the migration and development debate. While data on migrant entrepreneurship is generally limited, there is evidence that (return) migrants are indeed over-represented among entrepreneurs in some countries. The assumption that migrants are more entrepreneurial than non-movers is based on the argument of positive selection of migrants. Migration itself is a risky activity and reflects a certain risk attitude, also important for entrepreneurship. At the same time, someone that took an opportunity to migrate, may also be more likely to spot a good business opportunity. In reality immigrants often face labour market discrimination and are pushed into entrepreneurship rather than going into it because they spotted a great opportunity. The aim of our research under this theme is to generate new knowledge on the inter-section between migration and entrepreneurship, looking at business activities of immigrants as well as return migrants.

Contact: Katrin Marchand


  • Related publications

    Naudé, Wim, Melissa Siegel & Katrin Marchand, 2017, `Migration, entrepreneurship and development: critical questions, IZA Journal of Migration, 6, More information
    Mahé, Clotilde , 2016, Skills and entrepreneurship: Are return migrants 'Jacks-of-all-trades'?, UNU-MERIT Working Paper 2016-071
    Naudé, Wim, Melissa Siegel & Katrin Marchand, 2015, Migration, entrepreneurship and development: A critical review, UNU-MERIT Working Paper 2015-033
    Marchand, Katrin & Melissa Siegel, 2014, Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Cities, Background paper World Migration Report 2015, IOM, More information
    Koser, Khalid , 2013, `The business case for migration: Engaging with the private sector to encourage more proactive migration policies in the interest of economic growth and prosperity, Migration Policy Practice, III
    Fransen, Sonja, Katrin Marchand & Levi Vonk, 2013, Remittances, Entrepreneurship and Development. International Policy Debate on Remittances, Entrepreneurship and Development, Migration policy brief No 15, More information