An investigation of self-employment and entrepreneurship as viable strategies for lifting new Canadians out of poverty in the Greater Toronto Area by Dr. Sarah Wayland.
The research finds that there are a suite of services for entrepreneurs in the GTA, but that there is a paucity of supports targeted towards the unique barriers immigrants face when starting a business. It identifies the need for future research and suggests possible policy and program ideas for various stakeholders.
The report describes:
- Characteristics of self-employment and entrepreneurship amongst immigrants;
- Challenges faced by immigrants in starting new businesses;
- Existing services, programs and policies available in the Greater Toronto Area for immigrant entrepreneurs;
- Lessons learned from other jurisdictions; and
- Preliminary observations about the efficacy of existing supports for self-employed immigrants, and gaps in services.
See the full report (PFD)
See the literature review: Immigrant Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship in the GTA: Literature, Data, and Program Review by Sarah Wayland (December 2011)
See the Metcalf and Maytree Letter on Immigrant Self-employment
Community consultation on research findings:
To deepen our understanding of the issues and opportunities surfaced in Dr. Wayland’s research, we reached out to over 30 individuals with knowledge on this topic, through interviews and small roundtables. We met with officials from all three levels of government, immigrant-serving agencies, foundations, financial institutions, business networking organizations, and an ethnic business association. All gave generously of their time and wisdom to our effort.
Our conversions confirmed the findings of our report that self-employment can indeed be one dimension of a broad set of strategies that advances poverty reduction, and increases economic well-being for immigrants. At the same time, they brought into focus important nuances that need to be integrated into any serious conversation about supporting low-income immigrant entrepreneurs. These included notions about how we define success, and what are considered effective, high-impact interventions.
“As our organizations take tentative steps into the arena of immigrant self-employment and entrepreneurship we seek to learn from what we do, and from others working this arena. We know there is great promise in fostering small businesses as vehicles to augment individuals’ incomes and help families to make ends meet. How to do this most effectively, drawing on the strengths and assets that exist in Toronto, such that the risks associated with business development are minimized, is an area we are deeply interested in. We believe that self-employment can be good for immigrants and good for the city. We hope that you join us in continuing to explore this potentially powerful lever for poverty reduction, and building real economic well-being.”
Contact: Dana Wagner, Senior Research Associate, dana.wagner[at]ryerson.ca