A Service Provider’s Wish List For Services To Attract Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Survey Results # 8:

“If you could provide one other service or do something else to attract immigrant entrepreneurs…”



Our final question for analysis in the service provider survey allowed respondents to describe – even dream up — whatever service or action might best assist immigrant entrepreneurs. This was “blue sky” thinking without worrying about funding constraints – fun stuff!

I grouped responses into categories listed here in order from most frequent down to single responses. There are some interesting observations and comments that deserve mention too, and I have listed those at the end.



Specific mentions were given to access to start-up funds, microloans, and creation of a lending pool. There was also a mention of ‘access to land.’ Here is one of the more detailed responses:

“Provide local or small regional private/philanthropic dollars [ie. Community Bonds; Community Enterprise Foundation; Impact Investing Fund; Social Enterprise Funds] to establish Seed Funds for launching or scaling up viable immigrant businesses. Loans for amounts of $5k-$50k in a community micro-lending environment. Encourage cooperative business models.”



These responses focused on connecting to newcomer communities through marketing, including through promotion of opportunities outside of major urban centres, even by inviting people to smaller towns to see the potential. One respondent wanted to market to immigrants at the pre-arrival stage by visiting other countries. Others focused specifically on marketing directly to immigrant entrepreneurs. These could be done through a centralized marketing campaign initiated through the CFDC network. One respondent stated:

“Ironically, immigrants with farming background might see possibilities in our terrain that are invisible to our Canadian eyes. And while we are unaccustomed to non-whites, we have a high tolerance for useful eccentricities, which might translate into social inclusion.”

Another idea for connecting to newcomer communities was to

“conduct an immigrant readiness or welcome level assessment, connecting with those already here and seeing if we could grow their network to attract similar immigrants.”

Provision of marketing statistics (demographic and psychographic) was also cited as critical for immigrant entrepreneurs.

Finally, marketing immigrants to the broader community was cited as a need:


“highlighting financial contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs to the local economy is important to tangibly identify what immigrant entrepreneurs bring into the local economies.”


Another common response focused on mentoring programs for immigrant entrepreneurs in which immigrants would be matched with a business owner who could provide advice and connections. One respondent noted:

“Our mentoring program right now is targeted to internationally trained professionals looking for jobs. There is demand from immigrant entrepreneurs to be matched with others for mentoring.”


Several service providers cited the need for interpretation services. One noted:

“We currently try to provide all needed services for immigrant start ups and existing business. There are two areas that are currently difficult from a service delivery perspective. They are language translation and comprehension of the English language and difficulty understanding and complying with legislation.”



Training would include: Understanding Canadian market place, Business terminology, Canadian business protocol; Navigating land use planning and building permit process. One detailed response cited:


“We would provide extended/expanded training seminars on all topics, which would provide immigrant entrepreneurs the opportunity to more readily integrate the Canadian components of each training topic. We would also like to develop a structured networking/ business support group(s) specifically targeting immigrant business owners/entrepreneurs, as a stepping stone (as safe place to start) prior to integrating with existing or evolving networking groups that may be more beneficial to their target market(s) or business locations. A similar group(s) could be established for immigrant women or those working/considering part time businesses too.”



Several respondents cited the desire for dedicated personnel to focus on immigrant entrepreneurship as well as on settlement more broadly, essentially describing a case management approach in which staff responded holistically to various settlement and business-related needs:

“a full time on site staffer to assist newcomers to integrate into the community. introduce them to education providers, service providers and other agencies in addition to offering programs to introduce them to other local immigrants”


“I would make immigrants aware of how to access the supports and provide a network for exchange of information regarding local demands and interests.”

This could be in the form of “one stop shop” access to all business services and supports in the region as well as personal resources (medical resources, housing, etc.)



Helping current business owners transition out of business was also cited by respondents, for example:

“Match-making service between existing businesses for sale and immigrant entrepreneurs seeking new opportunities. I’d like to do match making with immigrant entrepreneurs looking for opportunities and businesses looking for someone to take over their business.”




Other ideas cited in the survey included

  • intensive and detailed information about self-employment initiatives with mentoring focus on agricultural jobs;
  • efforts directed to municipalities connecting immigrant entrepreneurs to economic development;
  • co-operative development programme designed to mentor and help immigrant communities develop and launch a co-operative to suit their local needs;
  • a business incubator;
  • legal advice;
  • employer supports on working with and understanding immigrant needs (cultural sensitivity);
  • facilitating networking groups amongst immigrants to build experience and encouragement and synergy in a group setting (peer support groups);
  • removing the EI eligibility criteria for the SEB program; and
  • a programme for people who realize that entrepreneurship is not a fit for them and want to find meaningful employment.



Sarah V Wayland
Sarah Wayland, Principal Investigator

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