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Migrants making entrepreneurial contributions

16 May 20170 comments

Migrants have better business brains than workers in their host nations including in Australia, a new global study has found.

An Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report reveals migrants are often more entrepreneurial and more likely to start a business or work for themselves than natives.

And the report singles out Australia over the success of its migrant business networks.

“Migrants are more entrepreneurial than native-born citizens so they can boost innovation, spurring economic growth,’’ the report says.

“Migrants also increase cultural diversity in firms, which can boost productivity,” it says.

“Immigrant groups are more engaged in self-employed enterprises than natives in many OECD countries, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.’’

The OECD report says migrant entrepreneurs are good for economies because they know about global markets and target sales to international customers.

It says migrant groups in Australia can network to “help to spread ideas, knowledge and technology’’.

The study shows that Australians’ marketing skills are world-class — but we need to become more tech-savvy.

Australian workers lead the world in marketing products and services. New Zealand and Australian workers top the ­industrialised world in terms of “managing and communication skills’’- outperforming Finland, the United States and the United Kingdom.

But they lack “self-­organisation skills’’ and are middle-of-the-road in terms of “readiness to learn’’, the report says.

Workers also need to brush up on their computing and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) if Australia is to be a truly “clever country’’.

Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia chairman Joe Caputo said migrants showed bravery.

“This kind of independence and strength is what drives so many migrants to launch businesses,’’ he said.

The report, titled ‘Migrant Entrepreneurship in OECD Countries’ analysed migrant entrepreneurship and its contribution to employment creation in OECD countries and it reviewed policy measures established to foster migrant entrepreneurship, both for prospective migrant entrepreneurs and for those already in the country.

It found the contribution of migrant entrepreneurs to employment creation in OECD countries has been increasing steadily during the period 1998-2008 and that migrant entrepreneurs are more likely to start a business than natives in most OECD countries.

“Several OECD countries have implemented support measures targeted at migrant entrepreneurs in order to ensure that they have equal opportunities as native entrepreneurs to start and expand a business,” the report said.

“Both public and private stakeholders have a role to play to guarantee equal access to credit for migrant and native entrepreneurs. This would help migrant entrepreneurs to emerge from traditional occupations confined to the lower segments of markets and expand to high-value activities, with a subsequent greater contribution to their host country economies,” the report concluded.

“In general, support measures for migrant entrepreneurs should extend to the various phases of business development and not only the start-up phase,” it said.

“In addition, their outreach capacity should be strengthened. Mainstream business support measures, intended for all entrepreneurs in a country, are crucial to foster both native and migrant entrepreneurship.

“General policies consisting in the reduction of obstacles to entrepreneurship and business creation, as well as policies promoting the economic growth prospects of the country, are at least as important as migration and integration policies in encouraging and supporting migrant entrepreneurship.

“However, support measures directly targeted at migrant entrepreneurs are also important for the success of migrant businesses.

“The specific migration policy measures regulating the entry and stay of foreign entrepreneurs and investors cover only a small part of all migrant entrepreneurs in OECD countries as most migrant entrepreneurs enter through other channels.

“Targeted admission policies may be relevant for specific categories of migrants or may provide a simplified channel of access, ensuring that foreign entrepreneurs and investors face no obstacles in bringing their capital to a new country, but they have only a partial role in sustaining overall business growth and investment,” the report said.


Laurie Nowell
AMES Australia Senior Journalist