Exploring the Migrant Experience in Small Business Activities in Auckland New Zealand: A Case Study of African Migrants
Omisakin, Olufemi Muibi
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This study explored African migrants’ perceived experiences of their involvement in small business activities in Auckland. This includes the experience of African migrants in the labour market, the motivation of African migrants into small business activities, the challenges of African migrants in business, and how African migrants overcame these challenges. The study tested existing theories: labour disadvantage theory (Li, 1997), cultural theory (Hofstede, 1997), middle man minority theory (Bonacich, 1973), opportunity structure theory (Aldrich & Waldinger, 1990; Waldinger, Aldrich, & Ward, 1990), and ethnic enclave theory (Wilson, & Portes, 1980) to explore the migrant experience in business activities. The study employed a qualitative strategy which is a widely accepted method for studying social phenomena (Marshall & Rossman, 1999). Data were collected from 17 participants through semi-structured interviews and analysed using thematic analysis focusing on investigating recurring themes from the data collected. Findings from the study indicate that migrant businesses create employment opportunities in Auckland, New Zealand and help solve social problems. Migrants typically experience difficult challenges either before or after becoming migrant business owners. While some are being discriminated against, others are told that they lack host country work experience. Migrant entrepreneurs had financial challenges both at the take-off and later when they needed further finance for their businesses. Migrant small business owners overcame their challenges by sourcing funds from families, friends, savings, and selling valuables. Migrants were motivated to start-up businesses because of their desire for independence, financial betterment, attainment of higher social status, and discriminatory experiences in the labour market. In view of these, migrants in New Zealand believe that starting their own business can be the solution to their challenging experiences. This study is the first of its kind to explore the involvement of indigenous African migrants’ involvement in business activities in Auckland, New Zealand. It thus has wider implications for public benefit and as a valuable contribution to knowledge. Several implications of this thesis may be useful for practitioners and policy makers in the receiving migrant countries. For instance, findings from the study will assist policy makers in New Zealand and other receiving migrant countries to create support policies that will help migrant business owners develop their businesses by providing a motivational business environment for migrant entrepreneurs.