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Buzz words in the immigrant-entrepreneurial community:

Accent ceiling: "A situation when a minority immigrant's accent, skin colour, dress or other marker of minority status leads to them being penalized in the labour market because of an apparent inability to communicate or fit in. Many minority immigrants are employed in jobs below their level of human capital and see a small business as an opportunity to escape this downward employment mobility and to escape the social relations of the work force."

Dr. Jock Collins, Australian immigration expert

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Ethnic enclave: "There is some research on what's called the 'ethnic enclave' - Chinatown, Greek areas - that's almost seen as identical to the small self-employed business, but there the question is: 'Do immigrants, when they arrive, and they are in this transition phase, and they are trying to get re-established, does working with fellow ethnics in an ethnically owned business facilitate their integration or retard it?' There's a huge debate around that."

Dr. Monica Boyd, University of Toronto immigration expert

First-generation immigrant: Someone who has come from another country to Canada.

Second generation: You're born in Canada, but you have at least one parent who's foreign born, but most likely both are.

Third generation: You are born in Canada and your parents were born in Canada.

"The 1.5 generation:" Children were born outside of Canada, but arrived at an age to go through the Canadian school system and grow up here. Dr. Monica Boyd said "1.5" and second-generation immigrants are often lumped together in studies as "immigrant offspring," but they're not the same children: "I find you really need to distinguish the 1.5 and the second generation. It's the second generation that's really doing the best," she said of their educational pursuits and mobility.

Familialism: Just because a second-generation immigrant has chosen to go to university and become an engineer, doesn't mean she's no longer supporting the family business. Immigrant students may be working part-time not just to support themselves at school, but also to can contribute to the family pot: "Among immigrant families, there's a strong sense of the family project. Part of it is that some of these families come from areas where the centrality of the family is emphasized. With familialism, the family is central in your life. It's also a financial support system," Dr. Monica Boyd said, noting familialism is popular in, but not limited to, South Asian, Italian, Greek and Portuguese families.

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Estate planning: Different than succession planning. Just because a business leader has a will, does not mean he or she has decided how the company is going to be run in the future and who is going to control it.


A Canadian immigrant family wants its son to go to university, but he wants to take over the business one day. A comprise would be to study family business at a university:

• Major or minor in entrepreneurship and family enterprise at the University of Alberta.

• Stetson University in Florida has programs in family business.

• Kennesaw State University, near Atlanta, offers an executive MBA in families in business.

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• University of Jyvasykla in Finland has a family business masters program.

• Bond University in Australia offers a family business masters program.


There are three main categories of immigrants in Canada:

Family class: Sponsored by close relatives or family members in Canada. Includes spouses and partners, dependent children, parents and grandparents.

Economic class: Skilled workers, business immigrants, provincial and territorial nominees and live-in caregivers.

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Refugees: "Since 2002, Canada's immigration program has been based on the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and its regulations. IRPA replaces the Immigration Act of 1976 and defines three basic categories of permanent residents, which correspond to major program objectives: reuniting families, contributing to economic development and protecting refugees."

2008: Facts and Figures: Immigration Overview, Permanent and Temporary Residents


Where do most entrepreneurs come from?

The majority are from China, Taiwan, Korea and Hong Kong. There are also large numbers applying from the Middle East.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada

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• Only one-third of family businesses believe it is important to keep that business within the family.

• In family businesses, respondents were asked to indicate the primary role of their business by choosing up to three options: 78 per cent said the primary role was to generate wealth, followed by 46 per cent as a source of retirement income, 46 per cent as a source of family wealth (tie), 40 per cent as an investment, 22 per cent as a source of family pride in the community, and 14 per cent as a legacy to succeeding generations.

Are Canadian Family Businesses An Endangered Species?: The First Success Readiness Survey of Canadian Family-Owned Business, Deloitte & Touche Centre for Tax Education and Research 1999


University educational attainment among children of immigrants:

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• 59 per cent of youth of immigrant parents from China are estimated to obtain a degree.

• 47 per cent from 'other' Europe.

• 46 per cent from India.

• 22 per cent from Caribbean and Latin America.

• Less than 20 per cent from Philippines.

One third of children of Canadian-born parents receive a degree.

"Compared with children of Canadian-born parents, children of immigrant parents achieved a clear advantage with regard to university completion rates. Among immigrant groups, children whose parents were from Africa, China, India, West Asia/Middle East, United Kingdom, Eastern Europe or "other Europe" had significantly higher rates of university completion than children of Canadian born parents."

"Comparison of parental education and children's university attainment reveals a substantial across-generation improvement in university completion rates among children of immigrants. On average, 24 per cent of immigrant fathers finished university education, 37.6 per cent of their children aged 25 to 34 finished university education."

"Immigrant children of most groups attain a higher percentage of university education than their parents. Italian and Portuguese children surpassed their fathers' education levels by a substantial margin. Some 32.2 per cent of Italian second-generation youth have university degrees, compared with 4.7 per cent among their immigrant fathers. Similarly, 25.8 per cent of Portuguese youth completed university education, although only 4.4 per cent of their immigrant parents did so."

Statistics Canada, Group Differences in Educational Attainment Among Children of Immigrants, by Teresa Abada, Feng Hou, Bali Ram, 2008


• "Despite the fact that they represent approximately one sixth of the immigrant work force, self-employed immigrants are a relatively understudied group."

• "Recent immigrants (those arriving within the past five years) are as likely to be self-employed as the native born, and over time spent in the country are more likely to become self-employed."

• "Despite the fact that about one sixth of the immigrant work force is self-employed, few studies have looked at the success of immigrants in the self-employed work force in great detail."

• Who are self-employed immigrants? East Asia - China, Hong Kong, Japan, North and South Korea, Macau, Mongolia and Taiwan - stands out. The proportion of recent immigrants from East Asia has risen considerably between 1986 and 1996 (13 to 24 per cent). East Asians also have a high rate of self-employment (14 to 27 per cent) between 1986 and 1996. These two trends combined to make East Asians the single largest group of self-employed recent immigrants in Canada in 1996 (45 per cent).

• "Why has the relative success of immigrants declined in the paid work force, but remained stable in the self-employed work force? One possibility is the rising proportion of immigrants from non-English-speaking countries, a group that may face particular difficulties integrating into paid jobs."

Statistics Canada, Do the Falling Earnings of Immigrants Apply to Self-Employed Immigrants? by Marc Frenette, 2002

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