More foreigners run their own business

Some 124 thousand people running their own business in the Netherlands in 2003 belonged to the foreign population. The number of foreign company owners was 17 percent higher than in 1997. Relatively few Turkish, Moroccan and Surinamese people run their own business, while people with a Chinese and Egyptian background relatively often start their own company.

Increase mainly among non-western foreigners  

Six out of ten foreign people with their own company come from another European country or the former Dutch East Indies. The main European countries of origin are Germany, Belgium and Great Britain. In addition a fast-growing group of non-western foreigners are also starting their own businesses. Their number grew by 13 thousand in the period 1999-2003, to 47 thousand. The main countries of origin of these non-western entrepreneurs are Turkey, Suriname and China (including Hong Kong) with 12 thousand, 8 thousand and 7 thousand businesses respectively in 2003.

Foreign people running their own business

Still relatively few non-western company owners

Only 4 percent of non-western  foreigners aged 15-64 years ran their own business. For native Dutch people in this age group this is 9 percent, for western foreigners it is 7 percent. Among the large non-western groups (Turks, Moroccans, Surinamese), only few people start their own companies. Moroccans especially rarely run their  own company.

Share of people with their own business by ethnic origin (15-64 years), 2003

Many Chinese and Egyptian entrepreneurs

A few smaller non-western groups have relatively many company owners, mainly people from China and Egypt and to a lesser extent India and Pakistan. In 2003 a total 11 thousand people with their own business came from these countries of origin, most of them from China.

Hotel and restaurant sector popular for foreigners

Two out of three foreign entrepreneurs work in commercial services. Non-western foreigners in particular have businesses in this sector. Many are active in the hotel and restaurant sector. Few businesses are run by foreigners in agriculture. In 2003 15 percent of native Dutch people with their own businesses operated in the agricultural sector, for foreigners this was only 3 percent. 

Average profits of people with own businesses, 2003


Lower average profits for non-western foreigners  

The group of people with their own businesses consists of self-employed people and director-large shareholders. In 2003 the average pre-tax profits for a self-employed person were 21 thousand euro. For self-employed non-western foreigners this was 17 thousand euro, nearly one quarter lower.

André Corpeleijn and Koos Arts