Among skilled immigrants in Toronto, there is a growing emphasis on self-employment and entrepreneurship. According to the report from the Metcalf Foundation and Maytree “Immigrant Self-Employment and Entrepreneurship in the GTA,” by the late 2000s, 19% of Canada’s immigrants were self-employed, and were more likely than Canadian-born individuals to be self-employed.

For many new immigrants in particular, starting their own business is an attractive alternative employment strategy. The report from the Newcomer Women’s Services Toronto “The Economy and Resilience of Newcomers (EARN)” found that newcomers are more likely to enter into self-employment as a result of labour market difficulties than more established immigrants. However, immigrants do still face a number of challenges and barriers in pursuing entrepreneurship as a career option. For example, the Metcalf/Maytree report noted that potential entrepreneurs need more organized support for creating business plans, expanding professional networks, and more start-up finance opportunities.

On March 22, the Professional Immigrant Networks (PINs) program organized an information and networking event, hosted by MaRS Discovery District, to support immigrants seeking to become entrepreneurs.

“We learned that more and more immigrants are choosing the entrepreneurial path in Canada,” said Racquel Sevilla, Director, Immigrant Employment Initiatives, TRIEC. “Therefore, we organized this event to help them be are of what resources and supports are available and get them started on their journey.”

The event, ‘Newcomer Start-ups: Building a successful business,’ featured four successful immigrant entrepreneurs sharing their journey and information on programs, services and supports to help immigrants start their business.

“In order to start a business, you have to be prepared,” said Coraline Allard, one of the successful immigrant entrepreneurs at the event. “You should have a clear idea of what you want to do and make sure you have a business plan.”

TRIEC’s Immigrant Entrepreneurship page provides links to a range of resources and supports available for immigrant entrepreneurs. These supports cover a wide range of topics and can help immigrants with accessing financing, learning about Canadian business culture and building local connections and networks.

Also, check out the video below for highlights from the event. (Courtesy: New Canadians TV)