Lhe contribution of immigrant entrepreneurs to the economies of their host country is a neglected aspect of debates on immigration. A recent study by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP, 2022) on the origin of the creators of “unicorns”, these young companies not listed on the stock exchange and valued at more than a billion dollars (960 million euros) , shows not the importance but the predominant role of immigrants in the creation of the latter. In the United States, more than half of them (319 out of 582, or 55%) were founded or co-founded by one or more immigrants. If we take into account not only immigrants but also their children, this percentage rises to 64%. And when we broaden the spectrum by adding immigrants who are not founders but occupy a key management position in the company (CEO or vice-president of technology), it reaches 80%. Immigration does play a massive role in the success of entrepreneurship in the United States.
This is all the more so since the analysis of these 319 companies underlines that 58% of them had one or more immigrant founders and no native founders, that 28% had a majority of immigrant founders or an equal number of immigrant and native founders , and that only 14% had a majority of native founders. As the study indicates: “Since every co-founder contributes to the success of a startup, it seems likely that none of these billion-dollar companies with at least one immigrant founder would exist or have been created in the United States. United if the foreign-born founder had not been allowed to come to the United States. »
These immigrant entrepreneurs drive America’s economy and innovation: their 319 unicorns have created an average of 859 jobs each and had, at the time of the study, a total value of $1.2 trillion.
But the relationship between immigration and entrepreneurship is not limited to these unicorns which, while they attract a lot of attention, only represent a tiny part of business creation. An older study, carried out by the Center for Entrepreneurs in London, also underlined the very significant impact of immigrants: in the United Kingdom, one company in seven (all types of companies combined) was founded or co-founded by immigrant entrepreneurs. Their entrepreneurial activity is nearly double that of the UK-born.
The study also looked in detail at the contribution of these entrepreneurs to the segment of companies with a turnover of less than 200 million pounds sterling (232 million euros): companies founded by immigrants employed 1.16 million people out of a total of 8.3 million, and were responsible for 14% of job creation in these SMEs of varying size. We are far from the image of immigrants arriving in the United Kingdom to take jobs from the locals.
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