Exploring economic solutions to Political problems

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The civil war in Syria has led to the displacement of millions of Syrians mainly hosted by Syria’s neighbouring countries. This influx of refugees puts a serious strain on the resources of these host-countries, causing tensions between refugees and the host-community. Especially in neighbouring countries to conflict, there is potential for spill-over of the conflict. Therefore, it is important to implement policies aimed at the integration of refugees. Consistently identified as a means towards integration in general, and labour market integration specifically is entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship contributes to the financial independence of refugees as well as to the growth of the economy, therewith reducing the burden on host-country resources. However, not much is known about what is needed for entrepreneurial success among refugees. Therefore, this thesis examines the entrepreneurial success of Syrian refugee entrepreneurs through the analysis of a questionnaire distributed among 70 Syrian refugee entrepreneurs living in Syria’s neighbouring countries. Within the framework of Giddens’ structuration theory it assesses the influence of resources inherent to one’s social network – social capital – and one’s personal skills, competences and characteristics – human capital – on their entrepreneurial success. It finds that human capital and social capital can be enabling as well as constraining factors in achieving entrepreneurial success. Identified as the most important constraining factor for entrepreneurial success is operating within the ethnic market. The clear different influence of the ethnic market compared to the mainstream market suggests that refugee entrepreneurs benefit most from having contacts with natives. For refugee entrepreneurship to be successful and have its desired impact on integration it is preferred if entrepreneurial activities take place outside of the ethnic market. Therefore, in their support of refugee entrepreneurs, it is important for supporting organizations to focus on host-community network building.
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