The first research project into refugee entrepreneurs has secured $20,000 in funding from the Australian Research Council.
Professor Jock Collins from the University of Technology Sydney and Dr Branka Krivokapic-Skoko from Charles Sturt University will seek to understand refugees’ contributions to innovation, productivity and trade.
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They will also look into the barriers facing refugee entrepreneurs and how they overcame them, with the aim of identifying particular strategies to assist existing and future startups. Factors such as gender and geographical location will be investigated.
In a statement, Professor Collins said there was a rich history of immigrant entrepreneurship in Australia. However, until now there has been no study investigating humanitarian refugees who have turned to entrepreneurship.
“The image of them is as a burden, rather than as contributing to Australian society and to the economy,” he said.
“Refugees generally have limited financial capital and their human capital often isn’t recognised in Australia … in many ways they face the greatest challenges of any entrepreneur, and yet they overcome these challenges. It’s an amazing story of resilience, hard work and determination.”
The research project will also look into how refugee entrepreneurs and their businesses create not just profits but social capital. It will run for three years.