Refugees could be the entrepreneurs Australia needs

17 SEPTEMBER 2015

Humanitarian immigrants have a higher rate of entrepreneurship helping to contribute to economic growth and social cohesion in Australia, according to at CSU business and entrepreneurship expert.

Branka Krivokapic-SkokoHumanitarian immigrants have a higher rate of entrepreneurship helping to contribute to economic growth and social cohesion in Australia, according to at Charles Sturt University (CSU) business and entrepreneurship expert.

Associate Professor Branka Krivokapic-Skoko from CSU's Faculty of Business says humanitarian immigrants contribute to economic growth and social cohesion by establishing small to medium enterprises.

"The 2006 Census showed 15.9 per cent of the Australian-born population were entrepreneurs," Associate Professor Krivokapic-Skoko said.

"Birthplace groups, with a high number of recently-arrived humanitarian immigrants, had an average rate of entrepreneurship of 18.8 per cent for the first generation and 15.1 per cent for the second generation. First generation humanitarian immigrants from Iran, Iraq and Somalia had particularly high rates of entrepreneurship."

Humanitarian immigrants are the most disadvantaged cohort of immigrant arrivals and face the greatest settlement difficulties in Australia but Associate Professor Krivokapic-Skoko believes programs to assist humanitarian immigrants to move into entrepreneurship would empower them and assist them to contribute to economic growth and social cohesion in Australia.

"Research shows that one way to increase humanitarian immigrant employment, reduce socio-economic disadvantage and produce more successful settlement outcomes is to encourage entrepreneurial enterprises," Associate Professor Krivokapic-Skoko said.

"A survey of immigrant entrepreneurs in Sydney, Perth and Melbourne in 1995 showed 25 per cent arrived as humanitarian immigrants and 21 per cent of humanitarian immigrants received their main income from their own business. This proportion was significantly higher than for any other migrant category and I believe a similar pattern would be seen today.

"With the right programs and support, humanitarian immigrants can make an valuable contribution to entrepreneurship in Australia, settlement problems, economic growth and social cohesion."

Associate Professor Krivokapic-Skoko and Professor Jock Collins from the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) have received Australian Research Council (ARC) funding for their project Humanitarian immigrant entrepreneurs in private and social enterprises (2015-2017).

Media Note:

Associate Professor Branka Krivokapic-Skoko is based at CSU in Bathurst and is available for interviews. Please contact CSU Media for more information.

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