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

29 Oct 2018

Over the last decade, African immigrants have been met with and exposed to severe manifestations of hostility to their presence in South Africa. 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 for South Africans by African immigrant entrepreneurs, including face-to-face interviews with 120 African immigrant entrepreneurs. These findings were triangulated with 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 per cent of African immigrant entrepreneurs interviewed employ South Africans in their businesses. Despite a generally negative national perception of immigrants, this study has also revealed that entrepreneurial skills are transferred from immigrant entrepreneurs to their South African employees. While the study was conducted only in the suburban areas of Cape Town, the researcher believes that the results represent the general trend in South Africa. Further, the study involved only migrants from the African continent. The overall result is an acknowledgement of the contribution that non-citizens are making to the country?s growth and development. The findings include recommendations relevant to policy changes on South African immigration law, to inclusive research on the role of immigrants in job creation in South Africa, and to the need for consideration of immigrant entrepreneurs in the allocation of financial support.