SOTA Review

What Do We Know About Ethnic and Migrant Women Entrepreneurs? A Review of Evidence.

ERC SOTA Review No 36

Associated Themes
  • Diversity
  • Entrepreneurship

Evidence suggests that ethnic and migrant women are more likely than other women to select into self-employment due to discriminatory challenges which constrain their access to mainstream employment (Dy, Marlow and Martin, 2017). In the case of the UK, such women own and lead approximately 14 per cent of female led ventures, whilst one in seven new start-ups are initiated by migrants per se (CEF/Duedil 2014). From a review of extant evidence, Romero and Valdez (2016) found that the recent expansion in women’s self-employment has been dominated by migrant and Black and Minority Ethnic women (BAME). Within this review, we define migrants as individuals who voluntarily relocate permanently to a country different from the one in which they were born, and ethnic minority as an established community that has different characteristics to the indigenous majority population of the country in which they reside. Whilst there is a body of evidence regarding the entrepreneurial motivations and experiences of migrant and ethnic minorities, this literature tends to be gender blind, assuming a male prototype. There is relatively little evidence focused specifically upon women; this presents a gap given the intersectional challenges of gender, race, ethnicity and migrant status facing such women (von Berlepsch, et al., 2019). BAME and migrant women who enter self-employment have to navigate additional barriers to those encountered by white women including racism, language barriers and, for some, cultural constraints within BAME communities arising from patriarchal concerns about women’s autonomy and legitimacy to act as entrepreneurs (Knight, 2016). The confluence of these challenges has complex and varied affects upon the type of firms that BAME and migrant women create and their potential for sustainability and growth. It calls for policy and support with an intersectional sensibility (Crenshaw, 1991).