Did you know that immigrants face most of the same barriers to starting a business as the Canadian-born population, and that only a handful of supports focus on immigrant entrepreneurs specifically in all of Ontario?

Immigrants have become a major source of job creation in this country through both investments and business formation. Immigrants have higher rates of self-employment in comparison to the Canadian-born population: in the late 2000’s, about 19% of immigrants were self-employed compared with 15% of Canadian-born individuals. However, self-employed immigrants are more highly concentrated in the cohorts arriving before 1991, and they are less concentrated among recent immigrants.

Entrepreneurship offers an important route to economic integration for new immigrants in all immigration categories. Over the past decade, an incredible 98.5% of new jobs in Canada were created by firms with under 100 employees, and almost 60% were created by firms with fewer than 5 employees.

Yet starting a business is challenging, and failure rates are high, for both immigrants and the Canadian-born. The Winning Strategies for Immigrant Entrepreneurship project, or “Wise5” for short, builds on existing research related to immigrant entrepreneurship by working with local workforce planning boards in five communities to conduct original qualitative research. We interviewed service providers and others working in this area to get their perspectives. Then we interviewed more than 60 immigrants about their experiences of starting and running businesses in the five communities, including the challenges they faced and what kinds of supports were most helpful.

This report brings together findings from relevant articles and reports, primary research into services and supports that work well, and more than 100 interviews in order to identify key business supports and business start-up trajectories that have met with success. It contains feasible recommendations for communities in southwestern Ontario, and it identifies practices that can be adopted in other areas of the province. It is hoped that the rich findings from this research will help immigrants, policy-makers, and service providers to create opportunities for entrepreneurship and job creation in Ontario.

Donna Marentette, executive director of Workforce WindsorEssex says this research provides positive examples of pathways to employment.

“Our region is known for its diversity. By showcasing past success we can increase the chances for new ideas developing from newcomers, who want to start and grow their businesses here in Windsor-Essex.”

This project was funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada

For further details about the research project, please contact Sarah Wayland, PhD, Project Manager, ph. 905 522 5439, email info@wise5.ca or see the project website: www.wise5.ca