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The Importance of Immigrant Entrepreneurs to the Nova Scotia Economy

Canada has proudly defined itself as the world’s great mosaic of immigrant cultures and talents with its balanced approach to the humanitarian leadership while focusing on the skills and economic value of newcomers.

Immigrants have a positive economic impact through their skilled contributions to the workforce, supporting innovation and new ideas. The immigrant population in Canada is highly educated with almost twice as many immigrant entrepreneurs and workforce having advanced post-secondary education above non-immigrants.

In Nova Scotia, there is a projected retirement wave with suggestions that the workforce could shrink by 100,000 by 2036.

However, Nova Scotia’s immigrant population is on the rise with the province welcoming a record number of newcomers in 2018. The greatest noticeable advantage of immigration is to complement numbers and skills of the current workforce pool.

Thriving entrepreneurship is critical to economic prosperity with the important role that startups play in economic revitalization. It is principal source of innovation, economic growth and job creation as immigrants tend to be a highly entrepreneurial community.

In Nova Scotia, immigrants’ entrepreneurship becomes further significant to the sustained growth of the new entrepreneurs and new additions to the workforce. One study found that immigrants are twice as likely to start a business and more likely to export to countries than non-immigrants.

Numerous immigrants continue to be linked to their countries of origin after migrating. These connections create great opportunities to help promote global trade, the flow of capital, and investment resulting in growth in international economic activities that contribute to real inbound income gains in Nova Scotia.

Recent research has shown that new businesses and startups are significantly responsible for new innovations essential to economic growth and job creation. Statistics Canada stated that immigrant entrepreneurs have “the potential to make direct contributions by starting new businesses and creating jobs”.

Their research revealed that 80 per cent of immigrant entrepreneurs still owned their companies two years after starting their business and 58 per cent still had their businesses after seven years. As well, 5.8 per cent of immigrants who lived in Canada for 10 to 30 years owned an incorporated company with workers in 2010. The immigrant workforce made up 41 per cent of growth in the Canadian workforce in 2006 and 22 per cent of the Canadian workforce in 2011.

The Conference Board of Canada measures indicated that immigrants who owned small- and medium-sized enterprises were 36 per cent more likely to export and 60 per cent more likely to export globally to countries other than the United States.

A similar example couldn’t be more significant than from the United States with foreign-born entrepreneurs having been a prominent feature of the economic landscape for decades with many iconic companies founded or co-founded by immigrants. The Centre for American Entrepreneurship study showed that 43 percent of Fortune 500 companies and 57 percent of the top 35 companies were founded by immigrants or a child of immigrants.

Immigrant entrepreneurs play an important role in the future of Nova Scotia’s economy. Immigrant retention will remain important in our province if they feel really welcomed. Immigrant entrepreneurs are a considerable force for the future of innovation and economic growth for both Nova Scotia and Canada.

About Rany Ibrahim

Rany Ibrahim
Rany Ibrahim is a business strategy professional, communicator, writer, analyst, business workforce consultant, tech startup founder, and part-time university faculty. He also serves on various academic and professional boards. Rany is a member of the Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, is among Atlantic Canada’s 50 most inspiring entrepreneurial leaders under 40, is a Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards winner, and was recognized by the Nova Scotia House of Assembly for his contributions and community involvement. He is passionate about immigration, human rights, freedoms, and democracy.

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