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Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

Migrant entrepreneurs / Ethnic minority entrepreneurs

Migrants and people from ethnic minorities represent an important pool of entrepreneurs in Europe. In order to make the most of this potential and to foster Growth and Jobs in Europe the European Commission and Member States support and promote migrant entrepreneurs and ethnic minority entrepreneurs and help these groups to overcome difficulties which might prevent them from starting and growing businesses in Europe.

Whilst data for the EU as a whole is not available, statistics from several Member States indicate that proportionately more migrants and members of ethnic minorities than nationals start small businesses. It is important that policies to encourage entrepreneurship in Europe take full account of the entrepreneurship potential represented by this group. Support measures and policy initiatives should help to overcome the specific barriers which might discourage migrants and members of ethnic minorities to become entrepreneurs.

Many of the business problems faced by migrant/ethnic entrepreneurs are shared with small businesses in general. However, the following problems appear to affect migrant/ethnic entrepreneurs in particular:

  • Access to finance and to support services
  • Language barriers
  • Limited business, management and marketing skills,
  • Over-concentrated in low entry threshold activities where the scope for breakouts or diversification into mainstream markets may be limited.

Raising awareness

Member States have done much to tackle the problems of deliberate discrimination faced by migrants and ethnic minorities. But the problems that ethnic entrepreneurs face are mostly due to circumstance rather than discrimination. Addressing these requires a range of different measures, at many different levels of government. There is still a need to raise awareness amongst the different stakeholders that these problems exist, and that they need to be tackled.

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