Contributions of refugee and immigrant businesses to the American economy

Contributions of refugee and immigrant businesses to the American economyWhat are the contributions of refugees and immigrants to the American economy?

Why is it that refugees and immigrants are more likely to start their own businesses than native-born Americans? I believe it is because refugee and immigrants left what is familiar and ventured into the unknown in the hope of creating something better for themselves.

After all, isn’t that what entrepreneurship is all about? It is about creating opportunities, solutions, and products that have never existed before. Refugees and immigrants may leave their country for various reasons. It may be because of economic or political reasons, but the majority of them move to the United States to make a better life for themselves. The entrepreneurial spirit resides within them because they have overcome the tumultuous challenges of starting a new life.

Many refugees contribute to the American economy by starting their own businesses.

 Today, refugees and immigrants are building businesses that drive the American economy forward. Immigrant-owned companies are exporting goods and creating thousands of jobs in America. Therefore, I believe we should be encouraging and fostering the spirit of entrepreneurship in refugees and immigrants. It should also be our aim to equip them with the necessary resources to help them thrive in their entrepreneurial endeavors.

In this article, I am going to discuss the vital role of refugee and immigrant business ownership and show why we should encourage the spirit of entrepreneurship in newcomers. I also will discuss the barriers that prevent refugees and immigrant from starting their businesses and how can work together to help them overcome them.

The important role of refugee/immigrant business ownership

The United States is a nation built by immigrants, and immigrants to this day are still developing the nation. If America is to continue to be a great nation, then it must continue to give its newcomers an opportunity to work and contribute to the American economy. Most refugees and immigrants are very hard workers, and they become self-sufficient in few years of living in the country. Once they resettle, they go on to create more opportunities for the country that gave them their opportunities in the first place.

A report by the Partnership for a New American Economy indicates that immigrants’ businesses are smaller than those started by the native-born, but their collective impact on the U.S. economy is huge and growing. Over the last decade, the income generated by native-owned businesses increased just 14 percent and failed to keep pace with the nation. Meanwhile, income from immigrant-owned companies increased by more than 60 percent. Immigrant-owned companies now generate more than $775 billion in revenue, $125 in payroll, and $100 billion in income, employing one out of every ten workers along the way. [Fairlie, 3]

Why America should foster entrepreneurship in refugees and immigrants

A study shows that immigrants started 28 percent of all new US businesses in 2011, despite being less than 13 percent of the US population. Just 15 years earlier, in 1996, only 15 percent of new US businesses were founded by immigrants. (Fairlie, 3).

The spirit of entrepreneurship resides in many refugees and immigrants. But stereotypes and biases have dimmed newcomers’ enthusiasm for taking the risk. A better story needs to be told about them and their contributions. If we empower refugees and immigrants, they would be more likely to make initiatives in the business arena.

Refugees in America are contributing to the American economy.

Most refugees and immigrants start small businesses such as restaurants, grocery stores, dry cleaners, and beauty salons. As results, all of these things are necessary for the growth of American economy. As a refugee myself, the idea of being a business owner never occurred to me. But as I started connecting with immigrant and refugee business owners. I could see that it was possible for me, too. We should create a collaborative environment for aspiring refugee and immigrant business owners. This would encourage refugees and immigrants to start new ventures.

The need for education, capital and social resources for refugees and immigrants.

Refugees and immigrants of all educational levels are contributing to the success of America. However, a lack of access to educational, financial and social resources can be detrimental to their success as business owners. Empowering newcomers with the right resources would be the best investment we can make in the country’s future.


Kallik, David D, and Silva Mathema. “Refugee Integration In the United States.” Refugee Integration in the United States, June 2016.

Fairlie, Robert W. (2012).  “How Immigrants Are Driving Small Business Creation In the United States.” Partnership for A New American Economy. Retrieved from (Link)

Refugees shaking hands

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