Italy: Immigrant entrepreneurs contributing to economy

Italy: Immigrant entrepreneurs contributing to economy

The number of immigrant entrepreneurs is growing rapidly in Italy and they are making a significant contribution to the country's growth and international development. That was the finding of several speakers who met in Rome on Tuesday as Italian Catholic aid groups, Caritas and Migrantes, presented the country's first-ever report on the phenomenon.

"An important change is the number of immigrants who have set up their own businesses after working as employees for a number of years," said the coordinator of the immigration report, Antonio Riccio.

Data from the Caritas-Migrantes dossier fed into the new 'Immigrant entrepreneurs in Italy' report, published with the Ethnoland Foundation.

"There are now 165,000 immigrants who own a company in Italy and the number is rising. This is a source of development for Italy and for immigrants' countries of origin," Riccio said.

The number of immigrant-owned firms has tripled since 2003 and is growing at a rate of around 20,000 per year - while the number of Italian-owned firms is declining.


Most of the 83,578 immigrant-owned Italian companies currently operate in the industrial sector, and 65,549 are mainly Eastern European-owned building firms.

A total 77,515 entrepreneurs operate in services and 10,470 in the clothing, shoes and footwear sector, most of whom are Chinese.

Immigrant-owned firms generate employment for a total 500,000 people, a significant figure in the current economic recession, where joblessness is predicted to reach 8.2 percent this year.

Between 2003 and 2008, the number of companies owned by Romanian immigrants increased the most (61.2 percent), followed by Albanians (48.5 percent), Tunisians and Bangladeshis (38.5 and 38.0 percent respectively), Egyptians (32.2 percent) and Moroccans (27.4 percent).

The great majority of Moroccan entrepreneurs in Italy own trading companies, while Romanians and Albanians own building firms, and Chinese own manufacturing and trading businesses, according to the report.

The northeastern region of Lombardy has the greatest number of immigrant company-owners (30,000), followed by the centre-northern Emilia Romagna region (20,000), and the northern Piemonte and Veneto regions and central Lazio and Tuscany regions (with 15,000 each).

The concentration of immigrant entrepreneurs varies considerably from one region to another. The province of Milan and the province of Rome are those hosting the highest number (17,297 and 15,490 respectively), followed by the province of Turin (11,662).

Of the nearly 3.5 million foreigners who are legal residents in Italy, one in 21 is currently an entrepreneur, compared with one in ten Italians.


Source: AKI (English)

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