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  • Writer's picture2022 Global Voices Fellow

Entrepreneurial refugees and asylum seekers: Australia’s underutilised assets

By Diya John, The University of Melbourne, OECD, 2020

Diya is a University of Melbourne student studying a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance and Economics). Her Policy Paper discusses Entrepreneurial Refugees and Asylum Seekers: Australia’s Underutilised Assets.

Executive Summary

This paper explores policy recommendations that break down barriers to entrepreneurship for refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. Australia’s refugees and asylum seekers are twice as likely to pursue entrepreneurship than the wider Australian population (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2017) and their ventures exhibit high return-on-investment (Refugee Council of Australia, 2019). But, these statistics mask the structural obstacles they face in the form of restricted access to social, human and financial capital. Consequently, three key concerns confront refugees and asylum seekers in their entrepreneurship lifecycle: (I) gaining preliminary work experience to build refugees’ and asylum seekers’ networks and working confidence; (II) engaging with promising incubator and accelerator programmes (IAP)1 who support refugee and asylum seeker enterprises; and (III) ease of accessing the various available resources for refugee and asylum seeker entrepreneurs. Until these are addressed, economic gains from entrepreneurship, valued at approximately A$1 billion annually, remain largely untapped (Legrain et al., 2019). These policy recommendations offer tangible solutions to minimise these barriers and maximise the participation of refugee and asylum seekers in their entrepreneurial endeavours.

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