Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

How do migrant entrepreneurs create innovation?

4 Apr 2019 13:27 | Communication

The expanding group of migrant entrepreneurs are translating their specific background and experience into innovation, frequently managing to find niche areas to successfully exploit through new business ideas. In his doctoral thesis, AUAS researcher JuanFra Alvarado describes how these business ideas come about and how they can best be allowed to flourish.

On 8 April 2019, Alvarado graduated from the UvA and the University of Milan in innovation and entrepreneurship among businesses run by migrants in the services sector in the Netherlands and Italy. His thesis Something new, something used, something borrowed: innovation of migrant entrepreneurs in the service sector explores three elements of the business ideas that ensue from experiences of migration: new elements, elements adapted from another culture and elements tested and thought up through interaction with the network.

The researcher intensively studied migrant entrepreneurs with a high level of education and roots in the migrant communities of Amsterdam and Brescia in Italy. A recent publication by Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reveals that the number of entrepreneurs falling into this ‘knowledge migrants’ category is growing. Innovations contribute to the socio-economic development of society. Preconditions for the realisation of innovations by the entrepreneur are that the market is sufficiently open and that the entrepreneur’s network functions well.

Amsterdam market more diverse

Amsterdam is a diverse market that values innovation. Entrepreneurs use their expertise to tailor their services to their customers, although language still represents a barrier to further growth. In Brescia the market is much smaller, and entrepreneurs come together in groups with other people from a similar cultural background; there is a lack of expertise and support.

JuanFra Alvarado

JuanFra Alvarado has been studying the Failure & Recovery of Entrepreneurs at the Professorship in Entrepreneurship at the AUAS since 2017. He is responsible for the implementation of the Fenix research project on stories of failure and recovery among entrepreneurs, the development of educational material on entrepreneurship and supporting data collection and analysis.

JuanFra Alvarado has international experience across a range of organisations. He has worked for NGOs, consultancies and government bodies. As a sociologist, his interest lies in entrepreneurship, social projects, migration trends and inter-cultural connections.