International Journal of Entrepreneurship (Print ISSN: 1099-9264; Online ISSN: 1939-4675)


A New Career in a New Town: Entrepreneurship among Syrian Refugess in Germany and the Netherlands

Author(s): Ronald C Johnson, Cassandra S Shaw

The purpose of this exploratory phenomenological research study was to shed light on the structural challenges Syrian refugee entrepreneurs face in Germany and the Netherlands. Eighteen Syrian refugees entering two European cities (Berlin (8) and Amsterdam (10)) were interviewed using semi-structured questionnaires. The questionnaires captured information on stress levels and problems Syrian refugees experienced during mass migration to Germany and the Netherlands. Five major themes were discovered during this research and analysis: the importance of national identity; the funding options available to entrepreneurs, the previous professions of the refugees and their motivation for starting a business, and their advice in helping other refugees to become entrepreneurs. The results indicated that there are some significant similarities between the refugees in both Amsterdam and Berlin. Nearly all of the refugees came with some form of higher education received in Syria. They tended to mainly come from the larger cities of Damascus and Homs. In most cases, the businesses started were similar to ones they had owned in Syria. A striking finding in the research was that 17 of 18 refugee entrepreneurs did not accept any governmental funding. Refugee entrepreneurship as a research field is separate from ethnic entrepreneurship and migrant entrepreneurship. This phenomological study explores and discovers diverse aspects of refugee entrepreneurship which are quite different from research in the ethnic and migrant entrepreneur. This research will demonstrate qualitatively the socioeconomic impact of refugee entrepreneurs in Berlin and Amsterdam, coupled with ethnic-cultural factors not commonly found in other studies. This systematic approach offers current finding and ways forward for the refugee entrepreneur. It is hoped the study can provide current and future refugee entrepreneurs, as well as government and non-government agencies the ideas of the strategies and needed resource required for success. This research fills an essential gap in the literature of refugee entrepreneurs while comparing this research with past findings.

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