Immigrants Seeking Services Where There Are None!

Survey Results # 7:

“There appears to be more immigrant entrepreneurs who really ‘want to start a business sooner’ and are not starting businesses as a last resort when their ‘spirit’ and ‘equity’ and ‘family situation’ are completely depleted, their expectations devastated. There appears to be more who do not ‘want’ to be employees and are ‘arriving’ better equipped to establish SMEs.”


This interesting observation from a survey respondent indicates increased readiness for business start up by immigrants. Indeed, according to our survey results, immigrants have demonstrated a desire for business services even in areas where NO services are offered.



Among survey respondents in organizations that provide no program or services for immigrant entrepreneurs, most indicated that they do receive inquiries from immigrants who…

  • own their own businesses — 70% of responding organizations
  • wish to start a business — 79% of responding organizations
  • wish to maintain or grow a business — 69% of responding organizations
  • wish to sell a business – 31% of responding organizations

The kind of inquiries received varied widely, but with an emphasis starting a business, as indicated by the sampling of responses below. These responses provide insight into the specific business needs of immigrants:

“Inquiries received from immigrants and others who wish to start farming new crops and are looking for support in terms of technical advice, market and value-chain information, etc.”

“They want to start a business – agriculture; food products; or importing/ exporting. They want to expand a business they have with family in previous country;”

“Inquiries include: How to start a business; Compliance related issues (registration, permits and Licensing); Franchising; business planning; availability and access to funding/grants; taxation issues (income tax, HST/GST); Import/export”

“Sometimes. We have assisted new business start up in connecting them with Newcomer webportal site so that there new businesses are marketed in the community. From my limited experience, I find that in a typically rural community it is more of a secondary migration that means immigrants have been in Canada more than 5 yrs and fairly understand the systems and have their own ethnocultural networks which supports them in the buying of franchise business and financial review. They go to the other service providers only for permits and licensing et al.”

“Immigrants who are starting high-tech companies in life science/bio science, cleantech/greentech, advanced manufacturing, or ICT.”

“Skills/technology specific sector support businesses. Businesses looking to provide services/products to a specific nationality. Looking to export products back to native country. Looking to invest in a local business, or scale an existing business, be a go-between from native country to Canadian businesses.”

“We have had a range of inquiries from start ups to existing business. The types of businesses range from professional practices to retail shops and restaurants.”

In many ways, immigrants are just like any other person wishing to start a business. However, they may require more orientation to Canadian business practices (including licensing and zoning) and face more barriers in terms of accessing capital. They are also more likely to be interested in import-export businesses.

At a minimum, the above survey results indicate ongoing interest by immigrants in entrepreneurship. They also seem to show a pent-up demand for business services that is not being sufficiently addressed.



Sarah V Wayland
Sarah Wayland, Principal Investigator

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