The Refugee Entrepreneurship Paradox in Australia: Regional and Rural Experiences

Research output: Other contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Refugees are the most disadvantaged cohort of immigrant arrivals and face
the greatest settlement difficulties in Australia. Refugees face severe difficulties
in entering the Australian labour market, with unemployment rates exceeded
only by Indigenous Australians. Regional and rural labour markets are even more
constrained, hence the great difficulties faced by refugees in regional and rural
Australia in getting a job.
One strategy adopted by refugees over many decades in Australia and other
countries to overcome this blocked labour market mobility (Collins, 2003) and
engage with the economy is to create their own jobs through refugee entrepreneurship.
This paper presents the data gathered from interviews with more than
100 refugee entrepreneurs in regional and rural Australia as part of a national
research project on Refugee Entrepreneurs in Australia funded by the Australian
Research Council. It investigates the reasons why refugees started-up their own
business in regional and rural Australia, their strategies for overcoming the massive
obstacles they faced setting up the business and the extent to which their
businesses are embedded in their family and community. The paper also reflects
on the experience of formal and informal discrimination, the extent to which the
racialization of refugees in Australia has shaped their lives, blocked their access to
the labor market, influenced moving into specific ethnic niche industries and the
contradictions embedded in the refugee entrepreneurship paradox in Australia.
The paper also examines the ways in which boundaries of exclusion are created
and maintained by the institutional frameworks and local communities. More
specifically how some institutional barriers create boundaries of exclusion such
as the lack of recognition of overseas qualifications, and what are the implications
for social and economic mobility of refugee entrepreneurs within a non-metropolitan
Finally the paper considers the theoretical relationship between refugee entrepreneurship,
immigrant entrepreneurship and diasporic entrepeneurship
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2018
EventInternational Sociological Association
XIX Congress: ISA
- Metro Toronto Convention Center, Toronto, Canada
Duration: 15 Jul 201821 Jul 2018
Conference number: XIX


ConferenceInternational Sociological Association
XIX Congress
Abbreviated titlePower, Violence and Justice
Internet address

Grant Number

  • DP150104059


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