Sigmar Gabriel, federal minister for economy and energy and young entrepreneurs; Source: BMWi/Maurice Weiss Enlarge

Sigmar Gabriel, federal minister for economy and energy and young entrepreneurs.

© BMWi/Maurice Weiss

Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, is meeting today with entrepreneurs with non-German roots for talks in the Ministry. Minister Gabriel wants to discuss with them the framework, impediments and success factors for start-ups; the entrepreneurs will report on the experience they have gathered in Germany. More than 200 guests originating from 38 countries - from Afghanistan to Zambia - will attend the event.

Minister Gabriel said: "About one in five new enterprises in Germany is set up by people of foreign origin. As a consequence, there are successful entrepreneurs, men and women, with an immigration background in nearly all sectors today. Their share in start-ups is greater than their share in the population. This is a success story. Nonetheless, these people seldom attract public attention even though they are providing momentum to our economy and contributing to innovation. Especially against the background of the current migrant crisis, these entrepreneurs are good examples of how the integration of immigrants in Germany can be successful in terms of both work and private lives. Setting up their own businesses can be one way for migrants to earn their living and become better integrated in our country. Formal professional qualifications are often not necessary; what is needed are ideas and the energy to implement them. Immigrants can also make use of the experience they have gathered in their own countries, where many of them were self-employed."

One in three self-employed people, i.e. about 750,000 persons in Germany, has an immigration background. They employ about 2.2 to 2.7 million people, which corresponds to around 18 % of all jobs created by owner-run SMEs.

In percentage terms, the share of businesses run by migrants has sharply risen in the last ten years. While the number of self-employed people from the traditional recruitment countries (e.g. Turkey, Italy) has fallen in relative terms (in 1990: about 60 %; in 2010: around 40 %), the number of self-employed men and women from eastern Europe has perceptibly risen since the 2004 EU enlargement.

The share of women amongst entrepreneurs with an immigration background is about the same as the share of women entrepreneurs of German origin (around one third). On the other hand, migrants setting up their own business are usually younger (48 % younger than 30 years old) and more work fulltime than their German counterparts. Encouragingly, the participation of enterprises run by immigrants offering vocational training has been growing.

These entrepreneurs are increasingly better qualified. However, the qualification levels differ considerably depending on the individual countries of origin. The same applies to the sectors in which migrants start up their own business. While the share of start-ups in the hotel and catering industry and in trade has fallen perceptibly, the share of start-ups in the wholesale and retail business is still disproportionally high in relation to all start-ups. Other personal and knowledge-intensive services are registering a rising trend.

Employees of migrant-run businesses very often also have an immigration background and are recruited from the entrepreneur's community. Cultural diversity and specific know-how facilitate transnational networking and increasing activities abroad.

For further information, advice and support regarding start-ups, see