Featured Action on the Ottawa Immigration Strategy: Valuing and Leveraging Immigrants’ Entrepreneurial Spirit
The City of Ottawa will present its first annual Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards at the first annual Ottawa Immigration Forum on October 1, 2012. The new annual tradition is an important milestone in the community’s collective action to achieve the OIS goals of making Ottawa a leader in valuing and leveraging immigrants’ entrepreneurship, and for providing effective support for immigrants engaged as entrepreneurs and small business owners.
The economic benefits brought by immigrant entrepreneurs have been largely recognized. Immigrant owned businesses create jobs, help Ottawa access global markets, and also are vehicles for meeting the evolving consumer demand as our tastes change with increasing diversity. The Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneur Awards are an opportunity to celebrate the valuable contributions made by immigrant business people to Ottawa’s economic prosperity.
Immigrants, by their nature, are risk takers and entrepreneurs, demonstrated by the fact they ventured to a new country to build a new life in their adopted homeland. According to a new study funded by the Maytree and Metcalf foundations, immigrant self-employment rates slightly exceed that of the Canadian-born population. “Among the self-employed, immigrants on the whole earned higher incomes than their Canadian-born counterparts particularly among the most successful entrepreneurs,” writes Sarah V. Wayland, author of the study (2011, p. ii).
The unique challenges and systemic barriers, however, persist to prevent a large segment of immigrants, particularly less advantaged groups, to start their own business. Financing is the key challenge, compounded by language difficulties, lack of familiarity with local business culture, lack of social networks, and discrimination. “General supports exist, but they are not designed to consider the needs of immigrant entrepreneurs,” writes Wayland (2011, p.ii).
The OLIP Economic Sector Table is working to remove these barriers by improving the accessibility and utility of existing business supports, including access to loans for immigrants interested in self-employment. Stay tuned for upcoming stories on action in the subsequent issues of the OLIP newsletter.
The “Immigrant Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship in the GTA: Literature, Data, and Program Review” (2011) study by Sarah V. Wayland is available on Maytree Foundation’s website, Policy Papers section.
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Welcome to the 1st issue of the Partnerships for Integration (PIN) Newsletter. Here we provide stories from across the community highlighting the progress towards the five sectoral areas of the Ottawa Immigration Strategy – Economic Integration, Health & Wellbeing, Language, Education, and Settlement & Institutional Capacity Development. We feature Ottawa as a home to Integration Innovations showcasing Ottawa-born best practices that have…