Immigrant entrepreneurship in startup cities — what works in which context?

Friday, December 03, 2021 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm

MIT E40, 496 Pye Conference Room 1 Amherst St, Cambridge MA 02142

Part of the Myron Weiner Seminar Series on International Migration with guest speaker Luisa Seiler, Fulbright fellow and Visiting PhD candidate at Harvard University.


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Migrants are often considered to be ‘natural entrepreneurs’. This notion is based on a presumed inclination to take risks, an openness to new experiences, and a higher willingness to adapt than their local counterparts. Migrants found more businesses relative to the local population in many countries, despite facing additional challenges in the startup process. To support them in overcoming these challenges and to leverage their entrepreneurial potential, more and more organizations create targeted offers for this group of entrepreneurs — particularly in cities with vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystems. Increasingly, these ‘newcomer entrepreneurs’ find that their particular needs are better recognised and taken into account. Despite this, it is still unclear which interventions actually work for which target group, and in which context. Which role do the different stakeholders and systemic mechanisms in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem play? 

I will share findings with regard to these questions from a practitioner’s perspective — as a co-founder and active member of an international platform for migrant-led innovation and entrepreneurship. In addition, I will connect these insights with existing research on the topic and point out central themes fit for further academic inquiry.


About the speaker:

Luisa Seiler is a Fulbright Visiting Fellow at Harvard Business School where she pursues her PhD research on immigrant entrepreneurship. Luisa also is a co-founder of SINGA Business Lab, a social business that facilitates immigrant-led innovation in Europe and supports newcomer entrepreneurs in starting businesses. Currently, she is the Executive Director of Schwarzkopf Foundation Young Europe. And she held various other impact-oriented positions, such as advisor to the Chairman of the Board of BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, senior consultant at PHINEO — a Berlin-based impact consultancy — as well as at UNHCR and the European Forum for Migration Studies. Luisa holds an M.A. in Applied Political Science from the University of Freiburg and Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence. She is an alumna of the Mercator Fellowship on International Affairs, a Responsible Leader of the BMW Foundation, and a fellow of the German National Academic Foundation.


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Co-sponsors:  MIT Center for International Studies

Free and open to the public

Sponsored by the Inter-University Committee on International Migration
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The Inter-University Committee on International Migration
Since its establishment in 1974, the Inter-University Committee on International Migration has been a focal point for migration and refugee studies at member institutions, which include Boston UniversityBrandeis UniversityThe Fletcher School of Law and DiplomacyHarvard UniversityMITTufts University, and Wellesley College. The committee is chaired by MIT as a program of the Center for International Studies (CIS).

Migration Seminar Series
During each academic year, the Committee sponsors a seminar series on international migration, The Myron Weiner Seminar Series on International Migration, held at MIT's Center for International Studies. The seminars explore factors affecting international population movements and their impact upon sending and receiving countries and relations among them.

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A full listing of Migration seminars is available here

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migration, CIS, International Migration, Center for International Studies

Center for International Studies


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