The entrepreneurial spirit of Australia's refugees

Tuesday 31 May, 2016 | By: Default Admin | Tags: refugees, Federal Election, Peter Dutton

Recent comments in the media by Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton have brought to the fore the issue of refugee contribution to Australia’s economy.

CCIQ has conducted research in order to highlight the entrepreneurial spirit of arrivals to Australia, and it challenges the notion that immigrants are a drain on Australia’s economy.

Indeed, our findings indicate that refugees embody the kinds of entrepreneurial skills that our growing innovation nation requires.

ABS data shows that migrants who arrived as refugees reported the highest proportion of their incomes “from their own unincorporated businesses”.

This income grew as the length of time they spent in Australia, and “increased sharply” after five years' of residency.

In other words, most immigrants to Australia contribute to the economy with their own small to medium-sized enterprises.

Additionally, a 2015 evaluation report of the Ignite small business start-up initiative shows there is significant entrepreneurial potential among refugees and many actually have prior business experience.

These entrepreneurs go on to contribute to the Australian economy, often creating a workforce as they employ people from their new community.

Refugee entrepreneurs in Australia

Many refugees have overcome problems of unemployment by establishing a private enterprise.

There has been some research on refugee entrepreneurs in the private sector and stories of prominent contributions to Australian business.

Indeed, one of Australia’s richest men, Frank Lowy, arrived as a refugee when he was 15 years old.

The report states that “most humanitarian immigrants, like most immigrants who become entrepreneurs in Australia, establish small to medium enterprises (SMEs).”

In a 1995 survey of 349 immigrant entrepreneurs in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne, 87 or 25 percent entered as humanitarian immigrants and more than one in five (21 percent) of humanitarian immigrants received their main income from their own business.

“Research indicates that people from a refugee background display strong entrepreneurial qualities, with a higher than average proportion engaging in small and medium business compared to the general Australian population,” the report says.

For more information, go to CCIQ's Federal Election 2016 coverage


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