Innovative migrant small-business owners creating jobs

Migrants coming to Australia are bringing more than cultural diversity – with new research showing migrant small-business owners are making a significant contribution to our economy, including by creating thousands of new jobs.

More than 900 business owners were surveyed as part of the Migrant Small Business Report, developed by CGU Insurance to shine a light on the growing role migrants have in Australia’s small-business sector.

The report found that migrant business owners are entrepreneurial, innovative and

ambitious, revealing:

  • Eight in 10 (83 per cent) migrant business owners started their first business venture after moving to Australia.
  • Nearly one quarter of migrant business owners started their business to try out an innovative or new idea (23 per cent compared to 16 per cent of non-migrants).
  • One in two migrant business owners are aiming to generate higher revenue in the next five years (47 per cent compared to 38 per cent of non-migrants).
  • A quarter of migrant business owners are training young people in the community (25 per cent compared to 19 per cent of non-migrants).
  • One in three migrant business owners are planning on growing their business with new hires (33 per cent compared to 25 per cent of non-migrants).

According to the report, this focus on creating jobs and business growth means migrant-owned businesses could potentially create up to 200,000 new jobs in the next five to 10 years.*

“There are more than 620,000 migrant-owned businesses in Australia employing over 1.41 million Australians**, yet the significant contribution migrant small-business owners make to our country is largely an untold story,” said Kate Wellard, Small Business Spokesperson for CGU Insurance.

“Our research helps challenge perceptions that our migrants are taking more than they’re giving, and we’re keen to share this story – one of successful, hardworking and innovative migrants and the positive impact they have on our business community.

“This research shows migrant business owners are creating jobs, contributing to our economy, giving back to our communities and making our culture richer, despite the cultural barriers. This contribution deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated.”

The CGU Migrant Small Business Report also found more than a third (36 per cent) of migrant business owners believe their cultural background has helped them succeed. In addition, one in seven (14 per cent) say their business has benefitted from the unique skills and strong work ethic their cultural background has provided them.

Yet the research highlights that migrant business owners are more likely than others to feel they have difficulties attracting customers (46 per cent vs 41 per cent) and accessing skilled workers (20 per cent vs 16 per cent).

“I see a lot of the hurdles that migrants need to overcome to be successful. These include low self-confidence, a lack of networks and cultural barriers,” said Usman Iftikhar, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer for migrant entrepreneurship program Catalysr.

“But at the same time, migrants are very enterprising. They are quite resourceful, demonstrate grit, and build internal resilience to move to a new country and make a life, which makes them great candidates for entrepreneurship.

“Migrants contribute so much to Australia and I encourage those in business, or people looking at starting a business, to think of your experiences, cultural background and foreign language skills as a unique source of creativity. You can spot gaps where others might not, but first you need to try.”

*Based on ABS and ASBFEO data, and CGU research finding that 33 per cent of migrant business owners plan on hiring new people
**Based on ABS and ASBFEO data

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