Female immigrant entrepreneurs in Canada

Across the board, self-employment is more prevalent in males than females across Canada. About 14% of non-immigrant males were self-employed at the time of the Census compared to 9% of females. Among those with paid employees, 5.7% of males were self-employed compared to 2.5% of females (i.e males had more that double the self-employment/with employees) rate.

Among immigrants, males are also more likely to be self-employed with an 18% self-employment rate in 2016 compared to 11% among females and 8.% self-employment/with employees compared to 4.2% among immigrant females.

But when the comparison shifts to just female entrepreneurship (self-employment), immigrants tend to have higher self-employment.

As shown in the chart, across all industries, immigrant women are 18% more likely to be self-employed (relative to total employment). I put both the percentage point change and the percentage change as the latter is a better measure of relative impact. For example, in the finance and insurance sector female immigrant have only have a one percentage point larger self-employment rate over non-immigrants but because the overall rate is low, the relative difference is 43% higher.

On a sector basis, non-immigrants have a higher self-employment rate in only the primary industries (agriculture, mining, etc.), manufacturing, professional services (legal, accounting, etc.), administrative and support services and other services (such as personal care).

When you look at only those self-employed persons that have paid staff, the relative difference widens. Immigrant women are 70% more likely to own a business with employees than non-immigrant women (as of the 2016 Census). On a sector basis, non-immigrant women have a higher share self-employed/with employees in only primary industries.

Finally, females have a much higher self-employment rate in Atlantic Canada compared to the rest of the country. You have to view this with some caution because the absolute numbers are quite low. For example, in Newfoundland and Labrador there are only 135 immigrant females who are self-employed and have employees compared to over 42,000 in Ontario. But still, the rates are much higher in Atlantic Canada.

The 2021 Census data on this issue will be interesting given the rise in immigration across the country. But you will have to wait until sometime in 2022 for this data.