Immigrant entrepreneurs play an important role in their host countries’ economies. They contribute to national economies by starting up and running small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). These make up 97% of the total number of enterprises in New Zealand. 29% of employees in New Zealand are employed by enterprises with fewer than 20 employees (Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment, 2016).
This study examines the factors motivating immigrants to start up small businesses in New Zealand. It focuses on African small business owners involved in business activities in Auckland. Participants are referred to as African entrepreneurs. A review of the literature on immigrant entrepreneurship resulted in discussion of why immigrants are motivated towards entrepreneurship.
This study adopted an interpretive study approach. Data was collected from 17 participants using face-to-face semi-structured interviews as a source of inquiry. Purposive sampling was used to select the 17 participants. All participants were African immigrant small business owners running businesses in Auckland New Zealand.
Three theories, labour disadvantage theory, cultural theory and opportunity structure theory were used to explore immigrants’ motivation for entrepreneurship. Thematic analysis was used to analyse the data collected. Findings revealed that African small business owners were motivated by the perceived need for a community service, need for extra income, financial independence, cultural reasons, available opportunities, passion, desire ‘to be my own boss’ and disadvantage in the labour market. It is possible that factors motivating this group of entrepreneurs go beyond the generic factors listed above.