African immigrants in South Africa: Job takers or job creators?

Vivence Kalitanyi


During the last decade African immigrants have been met with and exposed to severe forms of hostility towards their presence in this country. A significant number of these migrants have successfully applied their entrepreneurial flair in establishing small enterprises and employing workers, often to the envy of their local counterparts.

This paper presents the findings of an empirical study conducted in 2007 on job creation by African immigrant entrepreneurs for South Africans with face-to-face interviews with 120 African immigrant entrepreneurs. These findings were triangulated 7 non-governmental organisations that interact with immigrants in Cape Town. A review of the literature on migration, entrepreneurship and immigrant entrepreneurs formed the basis for the study

The findings indicate that more than 80% of African immigrant entrepreneurs interviewed employ South Africans in their businesses. Despite a generally negative national perception towards immigrants, this study has also revealed that entrepreneurial skills are transferred from immigrant entrepreneurs to their South African employees.

Whilst the study was only conducted in the suburban areas of Cape Town, the researcher believes that the results represent the general trend for South Africa. Furthermore, the study only involved those migrants who come from African continent.

The overall result is the acknowledgement of the contribution that non-citizens are making to the country’s growth and development. The findings suggest recommendations geared towards policy changes regarding South African immigration law, an inclusive research about the role of immigrants on job creation in South Africa, as well as the consideration of immigrant entrepreneurs when allocating financial support.

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Submitted: 26 August 2010
Published: 01 December 2010

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South African Journal of Economic and Management Sciences    |    ISSN: 1015-8812 (PRINT)    |    ISSN: 2222-3436 (ONLINE)