Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Quebec: An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem that Catalyzes or Inhibits?

Entrepreneurship among immigrants is a major asset for Quebec’s economy given the high rate of entrepreneurial intention among immigrants compared to native-born individuals. This is even more evident in North America as a whole, where immigrants play a key role in the creation of businesses, jobs, and wealth. However, despite their desire to start a business, many immigrant entrepreneurs do not succeed in realizing their projects. Our analysis shows that immigrant entrepreneurs outnumber native-born entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, at the stage of entrepreneurial intention as well as other stages of the entrepreneurial process. However, they encounter difficulties at the business creation stage and in survival of their businesses. Yet, immigrants tend to make the transition from intention to action more quickly, even within the context of a pandemic. These findings indicate that immigrant entrepreneurs represent a powerful but underutilized lever for the country’s economic growth.

An examination of the entrepreneurial pool of immigrant entrepreneurs shows that it is largely made up of young people. More than half of immigrants aged 18 to 34 have entrepreneurial intentions. Most are university students or young graduates familiar with the business market Quebec who potentially benefit from a longer entrepreneurial trajectory. Despite this much greater advantage among young immigrants as compared with their native-born counterparts, the trend is reversed when it comes to actually opening a business, resulting in a very low rate of business ownership among young immigrants.

Becoming an entrepreneur is not without obstacles. Starting or taking over a business may seem easier for some than for others. Our results show that immigrants are more motivated than their native-born counterparts to become entrepreneurs and show significant interest in starting businesses. Immigrants and native-born individuals have similar perceptions of entrepreneurship in terms of their commitment to the community and their role in the prosperity and economic development of their region. However, immigrant entrepreneurship is predominantly concentrated in certain sectors, such as retail trade, accommodation, and food services. Our results indicate that immigrant entrepreneurs participate in the development of the country at the regional, provincial, and international levels. It is therefore relevant to explore the obstacles that immigrants encounter during the entrepreneurial process in order to support their contributions to Quebec society.

Our results show that immigrant entrepreneurs encounter obstacles, particularly with respect to access to external financing and the general precariousness of their financial situation. In addition, immigrants face barriers to inclusion due to their immigration status. Thus, although the presence of many organizations and aids targeted for particular populations may give the impression that the Quebec ecosystem is egalitarian and inclusive, the facts indicate otherwise. Moreover, our findings reveal that the COVID-19 pandemic has further complicated some of the difficulties experienced by immigrant entrepreneurs. Immigrant entrepreneurs indicated that their financial situation has become more precarious due, in particular, to problems accessing government programs. This points to the need for support measures to reduce the scope of these obstacles.

How to Cite

Cisneros, L., Saba, T., Danthine, E., Chouchane, R., Registre, J.F.R., Cachat-Rosset, G., Guiliani, F., Leiva, F.B., & Marchand, R. (2021). Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Quebec: An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem that Catalyzes or Inhibits? Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, La base entrepreneuriale HEC Montréal, L’Institut d’entrepreneuriat Banque Nationale ⎜HEC Montréal, Réseau Mentorat, BMO Chair in Diversity and Governance.

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