Businesses owned by migrants and ethnic minorities have a significant impact on economic growth in Europe. At present there are roughly 24 million non nationals living in the countries of the European Union, many of them from ethnic minority populations. Their businesses - mainly small and micro enterprises - play an important role in the European society and in particular in urban areas.
On 5 March 2008 the European Commission organised a conference to exchange good practice cases in the promotion of migrant entrepreneurship/ethnic minority entrepreneurship, to draw policy conclusions and to discuss possible future policy activities in this area
Though data are not available for the whole EU evidence in several Member States indicates that the impact of immigration on entrepreneurship is increasingly important. Often migrants and ethnic minorities are more entrepreneurial than the indigenous population.
Most of the problems faced by migrant/ethnic entrepreneurs, when starting and growing their businesses, are shared with small businesses in general. However, the following issues appear to affect migrant/ethnic entrepreneurs in particular:
- Access to finance and to support services
- Language barriers
- Limited business, management and marketing skills
- Over-concentration in low entry threshold sectors with limited scope for breakout or diversification into mainstream markets.
- Welcome address by Ms Maive Rute, Director and Deputy SME Envoy, European Commission, Directorate-General for Enterprise and Industry.
- Keynote Speech: Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship in Europe - Challenges and Opportunities, Professor Jan Rath, Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies, University of Amsterdam.
- Keynote Speech: The European network on Ethnic Minority Businesses and Factors that Encourage or Discourage Immigrants' Entrepreneurial Behaviour, Catarina Reis Oliveira (ACIDI, High Commission for Immigration and Intercultural Dialogue, Portugal).
- Presentation of the study "Good Practice Cases in the Promotion of Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurs", Klaas Molenaar, Triodos Facet.
- The Rainbow Economy Project (Belgium), Mr Antoine van den Bogaert, Hefboom.
- NOBI (North German Network for the Professional Integration of Immigrants), Dr. Rainer Schmid, Arbeitsgemeinschaft türkischer Unternehmer und Existenzgründer e. V.
- Kleurrijk Ondernemen / Colourful Entrepreneurship (The Netherlands), Ms Eva Bunnik, Mind4Steps.
- EMERGE (Ireland), Mr John Kearnes, Partas.
- Entrepreneurs without frontiers (Germany), Jean Pierre Munyaneza, Zentrum für Existenzgründungen und Betriebe von Migranten und Migrantinnen, Hamburg.
- The Lanzadera Project (Spain), José Maria Menéndez, Transformando.
The Ethnic Minority Business Service (United Kingdom), Mr Ayyub Patel and Mr Sikander Badat, Business Bolten Support Unit.
The NYP Business Service (Finland), Toivo Utso, NYP Business Service.
Kansenzones (The Netherlands), André de Groot, Ontwikkelingsbedrijf, Rotterdam.
World Dedalo (Italy), Antonio Ciavarra, Italian Confederation of Crafts and Small and Medium Enterprises, Turin Association.
Ethnic Coaches for Ethnic Entrepreneurs (Denmark), Mr Muhsin Türkyilmaz, Vejle Business Development.