Every business founder knows the value of new ideas, and there’s one sector of the population that is brimming with them: immigrant entrepreneurs.
Canada is famously welcoming of immigrants, with Gallup ranking it the most accepting country in the world for migrants in 2019. In 2021, more than 405,000 immigrants settled in the country, with this figure set to rise still further between 2022 and 2024. And these new arrivals are making a significant contribution to entrepreneurship. According to the Innovation Economy Council, over a third of early-stage entrepreneurs in Canada are first- or second-generation immigrants.
Below, we’ll look at some of the ways immigrant entrepreneurs positively impact business innovation.
Welcoming New Ideas
Innovation thrives on seeing the world differently, making connections, and spotting opportunities. Immigrant entrepreneurs see their new country with fresh eyes, questioning things that the rest of the population might take for granted and bringing a different approach to work and everyday life. As a result, they’re often open to opportunities to do things in a new and better way – whether developing a product to fill a gap they’ve spotted in the market or introducing work practices from their home country that will help drive productivity in their new one.
A Highly Skilled Workforce
When migrants arrive in a new country, they can bring sought-after skills with them. University-educated immigrants are more likely to have studied a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subject than a graduate born in Canada. These highly-valued skills are the foundation of many new ideas driving entrepreneurship, particularly in the technology space. Research by Century Initiative found that a third of private tech companies in Canada with the potential to grow into world-class businesses were founded or co-founded by immigrants.
A Global Outlook
Immigrant entrepreneurs may find opportunities to introduce elements of their home country –whether it’s a specific product or a more efficient business process – to boost innovation in their new one. But innovation isn’t just about the specific product or service you offer; it informs everything about your business, including the relationships you build and the markets you enter. Research shows that immigrant-owned businesses are more likely to trade internationally and can leverage their networks to move into global markets or create transnational business ventures.
Founding your own business can be a leap into the unknown; so is moving to a different country. Recent research shows that entrepreneurs and immigrants both have a high tolerance of risk, something that helps explain why many immigrants decide to found their own businesses. It’s a mindset that helps drive innovation. A willingness to embrace risk might well make immigrant entrepreneurs more likely to take a chance on a new product, adopt a new way of working, or push into a new market.
Driving Business Innovation in Your Company
Inspired to start your own entrepreneurial journey? The Henry Bernick Entrepreneurship Centre (HBEC) at Georgian College offers training and support for entrepreneurship, business innovation, and R&D to help immigrant entrepreneurs – and all new leaders – establish and grow their companies.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you turn your ideas into a thriving business.