Open for Business

Migrant Entrepreneurship in OECD Countries

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Migrants contribute to the economic growth of their host countries in many ways, bringing new skills and competencies with them and helping to reduce labour shortages.  An aspect that has received only limited attention up to now is migrants’ contribution to entrepreneurial activity and employment creation in their host countries.  In OECD countries, entrepreneurship is slightly higher among immigrants than natives and the total number of persons employed in migrant businesses is substantial, although the survival rate of these businesses is often lower than that of their native counterparts. Migrant entrepreneurship has gone beyond traditional ethnic businesses, into a wide range of sectors and innovative areas.

Greater knowledge of migrant entrepreneurship is essential if policy makers are to better support migrant enterprises and their role in economic growth and job creation. In addition, increasing awareness of the positive role that migrants can play as entrepreneurs could contribute to a more balanced public debate on immigration.   Taking a cross-country perspective, this publication sheds light on these issues and more, discussing policy options to foster the development and success of migrant businesses. It is a compilation of papers presented at a June 2010 conference organised by the OECD Secretariat, with the financial support of the Swedish and Turkish authorities, and the Dutch-Turkish Businessmen Association (HOTIAD).


Migration policies in OECD countries to manage the migration of foreign entrepreneurs and investors

The potential contribution of migrant entrepreneurs to the economies of host countries interests policy makers. A majority of OECD countries have increasingly adopted migration measures that apply specifically to foreigners willing to migrate in order to create or operate their own business or invest their capital in the country. These policies are designed to select immigrant entrepreneurs and investors likely to contribute to the growth of the national economy and to encourage them to settle. However, those policies account only for a marginal fraction of all entrepreneurial activity by migrants in OECD countries, as most foreign entrepreneurs enter through other channels. Several other factors may also influence migrant entrepreneurs' choice of the country in which to establish their businesses. International agreements setting preferential admission conditions for nationals of the partner countries and, more generally, existing economic and public policies to support independent activity play an important role in this process. 


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