Do immigrant-owned businesses grow financially? An empirical study of African immigrant-owned businesses in Cape Town Metropolitan Area of South Africa

African Journal of Business Management 6 (19):6070-6081 (2012)
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Given the fact that numerous challenges prohibit African immigrants from availing financial capital for the purpose of starting a business in South Africa, this paper sets out to investigate whether those that succeeded experienced a significant increment in their financial capital three or more years after startup. This paper was designed within the quantitative and qualitative research paradigms. A triangulation of three methods was utilised to collect and analyze the data. From a quantitative perspective, the survey questionnaire was utilised. To complement the quantitative approach, personal interviews and focus groups were utilised as the methods within the qualitative approach paradigm. The primary data collection instrument used was the survey questionnaire which was complemented by personal interviews and focus group debates. The results revealed that the majority (71.1%), of African immigrants, had an estimated start-up financial capital in the range of R 1 000 and R 5 000, which tended to vary across the different ethnic groups studied. After three or more years, the estimated financial capital of the majority (39.3%) of the respondents moved to a new range of R 50 001 - R 100 000. Noting a disparity in capital growth exhibited by the different ethnic groups, it was found that all the Ethiopians who started with a capital within the range of R1 000-R5 000 moved into a new capital range (R50 001-R100 000) three or more years after business start-up. Although, the absolute migration in terms of capital demonstrated by the Ethiopian is not in the highest capital range, they were nonetheless the only country that experienced this phenomenal growth. In terms of occupying the highest capital range (R250 001- R500 000) 11.1% of Cameroonians moved into that range followed by 7.4% of Somalians. Using an increase in financial capital (generated by ploughing back profits) as a proxy for growth, we were able to prove that these African immigrant-owned businesses grow and the rate of growth varied across the different ethnic groups studied.

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Robertson K. Tengeh
University of the Western Cape


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