It is widely understood that economic recovery must be green, resilient and above all inclusive. To achieve this, we will need to devote more effort to developing an entrepreneurial ecosystem suited to such objectives.
Quebec has a rich entrepreneurial history that has given birth to jewels of which we are proud. Their success and the economic hope carried by many gazelles and young shoots should not however obscure the difficulties and obstacles that some of our fellow citizens, even the most talented, encounter when starting a business. Thus, many immigrant entrepreneurs are faced with persistent challenges that block the realization of their projects. However, Quebec cannot deprive itself of new innovative companies that generate quality jobs for reasons that are difficult to justify.
The Quebec Entrepreneurial Index (IEQ) of the Mentorat Network shows with satisfaction that between 2009 and 2020, the intention to undertake has experienced strong growth. The rate of people showing this intention rose from 7% to 16.8% during this eleven-year period. Yet the rate of business owners remains lower today than in 2015, when it fell from 7.9% to 5.6%. This decline is likely due in part to the barriers immigrant entrepreneurs face within our entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Immigrant entrepreneurs are proven to be a source of innovation and actively contribute to socio-economic growth. The rate of immigrants with a university degree is almost twice that of the native population, and they demonstrate a greater tolerance for risk. They are also more inclined to go into business than those born here, in a proportion of 28% against 14.7% (IEQ, 2020). However, this higher entrepreneurial intention is unfortunately not reflected in the rate of business owners.
Based on the results of a study carried out by the entrepreneurial base HEC Montreal and the BMO Chair in diversity and governance of the University of Montreal on immigrant entrepreneurship, we believe that the deployment of support programs adapted to the needs entrepreneurs newly established in the country is an essential starting point to overcome the obstacles described. These programs must also include guides and specialized resources who fully understand the challenges faced by entrepreneurs. Some programs, such as those of the HEC Montréal entrepreneurial base, have proven their worth. Moreover, university incubators and accelerators are proving to be favorable places to support immigrant entrepreneurs around the world.
We have to admit that the financing of entrepreneurial projects of immigrants is one of the weakest links in our entrepreneurial ecosystem. The entrepreneur who has not yet obtained his permanent residence finds himself in a system ill adapted to his reality. Funding programs intended for immigrant entrepreneurs are necessary, as are their promotion and the availability of adequate resources to ensure the support required by these profiles.
We recommend the establishment of entrepreneurial sponsorship programs that will be deployed through incubators, accelerators and other certified support organizations. Entrepreneurs already present in Quebec, but who do not yet have their permanent residence (e.g. study permit), would thus benefit from a status allowing them to have access to all the support offered by the entrepreneurial ecosystem. . The funding and access to services programs could thus be matched with project framing conditions that would not hinder their implementation and development.
Finally, a change of culture is needed in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in order to make the various players aware of the difficulties experienced by companies run by newcomers. All stakeholders must be made aware of systemic biases in order to reduce or even eliminate prejudices and remove barriers in order to make the ecosystem more inclusive.
It is high time to consolidate our efforts to allow everyone to realize their full entrepreneurial potential.
* This text is signed by:
Luis Cisneros, professor and co-director of the entrepreneurial base HEC Montreal
Tania Saba, professor, holder of the BMO Chair in Diversity at the University of Montreal and director of the Knowledge Portal for Women in Entrepreneurship
Gaëlle Cachat-Rosset, professor at Laval University
Felix Ballesteros, professor at Laval University
Florence Guiliani, professor at the University of Sherbrooke
Robert Dutton, associate professor and co-director of the entrepreneurial base HEC Montréal
Manaf Bouchentouf, co-director of the entrepreneurial base HEC Montreal
Winston Chan, entrepreneur, member of the G20 Business 20 employment, education and entrepreneurship working group
Sam Bellamy, entrepreneur, founder of Bazookka
Eric Szymkowiak, entrepreneur, founder of PilotThings
Muriel Kuokoï, entrepreneur, founder of Simkha
Walid Baba-Moussa, entrepreneur, co-founder of Epipresto
Adelaïde Fave and Edouard Schaeffer, entrepreneurs, co-founders of Kiwiz
Mehdi Merai, entrepreneur, co-founder of Dataperformers
Élodie Lourimi Rezo, entrepreneur, co-founder of Upcycli
Pape Wade, entrepreneur, co-founder of Airudi
Dahlia Jiwan and Tina Pranjic, entrepreneurs, co-founders of Élance
Amira Boutouchent, entrepreneur, co-founder of Bridgr
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