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Migrant Entrepreneurs and Their Spark for Entrepreneurial Exploration

Publication Type:

Conference/Workshop Paper


The war and violence around the world today has brought a mass increase of forcibly displaced individuals to seek refuge in the European Union, where they have to leave their homes and restart a new life built on other cultural, social, economic and legal premises than they are used to. Since 2014, the EU have accepted such individuals to help deal with the crisis by providing protection and refuge. Countries like Germany, Hungary, Austria and Sweden accepted around two- third of EU’s asylum seekers. Statistics from the Swedish migrations agency shows that about 163, 000 people applied as asylum seekers in December 2015 as compared to the 20, 000 persons who applied in April of the same year. This dramatic rise in population brought an overwhelming shock to Sweden because they needed to find quick and suitable solutions to be able to accommodate the thousands of refugees. Due to this, it posed a challenge for the Sweden to immediately tackle the problem of integrating the new arrivals in the labor market. With less societal integration and little or no skills to connect to the workforce, these immigrants faced a shaky beginning, as they had to struggle with not just integrating into a new society but also to get suitable jobs. These uncertainties brought pressures to the immigrants which drove a certain number of them to move from city to city seeking for a place seek for alternatives not just to contribute to their own well-being but also to contribute to the environment which provided a safe haven for them. As a result, they brought in their own skills, experiences, and cultural orientation to exploring and exploiting new opportunities and filling the gaps in their new environment. Recently, immigrants contribute with multidisciplinary collaborations and insights, international relations and to national growth through the exploitation of entrepreneurial opportunities because they come with different backgrounds and see their new society with a different “lenses” from the locals in the country. Our study, seek to understand how these uncertainties led migrant entrepreneurs towards entrepreneurial activities. We seek to understand their processes towards exploring and exploiting opportunities for entrepreneurship as well as their role in contributing to the regional growth. To reach these aims, we conducted a qualitative study using open-ended interviews of several migrant entrepreneurs – both female and male – that took part in two different entrepreneurial projects in mid-Sweden. The first projects was a business program for African women, the other was an entrepreneurship hub for immigrants. Both were focused on inspiring and coaching immigrants during their entrepreneurial process. An integrated part was to work with the participants’ entrepreneurial skills and abilities. In addition, we also collected archival documents to support our data. We analyzed our data using content analysis for qualitative research. The study aims to contribute to the entrepreneurship literature by understanding the influences of cognitive and environmental factors towards entrepreneurial activities. This study also provides several suggestions for policy makers on how they can better integrate migrants into becoming contributors of the society.


author = {Karin Axelsson and Adesuwa Omorede},
title = {Migrant Entrepreneurs and Their Spark for Entrepreneurial Exploration},
month = {August},
year = {2018},
url = {}