Filipinos are found in the seven continents of the world. And everywhere they go, Filipinos are proud to say that they can compete with the best.
Here in Canada, Filipinos are found in various fields, from the professions to the arts and trades. Many of them are successful in their own right, proving that Filipinos can indeed shine among the finest.
But aside from mainstream politics, it seems that there is one ground that Filipinos in Canada have a hard time cracking. That’s in the area of business and entrepreneurship. It’s often said that there aren’t enough Filipino entrepreneurs, just like there is a scarcity of Filipinos active in electoral politics.
Although a March 2016 study released by Statistics Canada doesn’t provide specific numbers about Filipinos in business, the document is a good starting point to see how Filipinos fare in this field.
According to ‘Immigration, Business Ownership and Employment in Canada’, immigrants in general are entrepreneurial, although the degree varies depending on where they came from.
The study, which was the first of its kind, found that immigrants from English-speaking countries, like the U.S., U.K. and others in Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa, had the highest likelihood of being owners of businesses. Roughly seven percent of these immigrants owned a private business.
Next are immigrants from India and China, with proportion of business ownership at around six percent and five percent, respectively.
The lowest rates of business ownership were observed among immigrants from Southeast Asia (the region where the Philippines is located), three percent; Latin America, 1.6 percent; and Africa, one percent.
There are a number of possible explanations why Filipinos and similarly situated immigrants are struggling in entrepreneurship.
Some of these can be learned from the results of a 2013 survey conducted of around 100 business people from six immigrant communities in the Toronto area by the North York Community House, and Public Interest Strategy and Communications.
The respondents, who include Filipinos, said in the survey results, later incorporated in the study titled ‘DIY: Immigrant Entrepreneurs are Doing It for Themselves’, indicated the need for enhanced English language skills, more knowledge about finances, networking, and mentorship.
It appears to be the same elsewhere in Canada, particularly in British Columbia, where the rise and fall of many a Filipino business has been witnessed by Leonardo “Ding” Cunanan, a publisher.
Cunanan was interviewed by Eleanor R. Laquian in a piece about how his Dahong Pilipino business directory is supporting community businesses, and he noted that Filipino entrepreneurs who succeeded have a good knowledge of their numbers, developed a sound strategy, and enjoyed good relations with their clientele.
Prod Laquian, in a separate piece in this April 2017 edition, observed that a number of businesses failed because of lack of professionalism, and the aversion to hiring expert staff.
But as Prod and Eleanor Laquian noted in their articles, a new breed of Canadian Filipinos is emerging. They’re young, tech-savvy, educated in Canada, and professionally trained to do business the Canadian way.
Moreover, Canadian Filipinos are branching out to businesses that cater to needs that are not specific only to Filipino or immigrant communities. They’re going mainstream. While the community will continue to see businesses like Filipino grocery stores and restaurants, and immigration consultancies, new businesses owned by Filipinos are now in fields like arts services and information technology management.
Much attention has been given to immigrants who are seeking employment in the fields where they have been trained in their native countries. This effort should continue, and the same time, more awareness needs to be given to ensuring the success of those who want to become entrepreneurs.
As Canada will remain reliant on immigration for its growth, the success of immigrant entrepreneurs is important. By creating businesses, entrepreneurs generate employment, and with jobs, come a vibrant economy that supports all Canadians.
Since starting a business is a major challenge for many, attention should be paid by governments and other stakeholders in supporting new entrepreneurs on a range of things, from individual mentoring to business incubation and financing.
By the CFNet Editorial Board