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One in four private sector businesses are owned by immigrants—how are they doing?

April 23, 2024, 11:00 a.m. (EDT)

According to the most recent data from the Canadian Survey of Business Conditions (CSBC), there were just over one million private-sector businesses in Canada in the first quarter of 2024, and about one in four of them (23.7%) was majority owned by an immigrant to Canada. This was almost equal to the proportion of immigrants (23.0%) among the nearly 37 million Canadians counted in the 2021 Census.  

The CSBC asks several questions to Canadian businesses every quarter, including obstacles, expansion plans and future outlook. Let’s have a look at how immigrant majority-owned businesses are faring in these areas.

Inflation, labour, interest and debt costs, as well as input costs are top obstacles

About one in six immigrant majority-owned businesses (16.5%) said in the first quarter of 2024 that rising inflation was the most challenging obstacle expected by the business or organization over the next three months.

The rising cost of inputs was reported by 1 in 10 of these businesses (10.2%) as the most challenging obstacle, followed by rising interest rates and debt costs (9.9%) and recruiting skilled employees (7.1%).

Among all private sector businesses, these were also the three most challenging obstacles.

Higher revenues for one in three immigrant majority-owned businesses; more businesses plan to expand than close, sell or transfer

Close to one in three immigrant majority-owned businesses (32.3%) reported higher revenues in 2023 than in 2022, slightly behind all private sector businesses (37.3%). Roughly similar proportions of immigrant-owned businesses reported that revenues were the same (34.0%) or lower (33.7%).

Among immigrant majority-owned businesses, 5.0% planned to expand their current location, 3.6% planned to expand operations internationally and 3.7% planned to expand into a new province or territory within Canada. Close to one-tenth (9.5%) planned to expand operations without increasing physical space. Of note, plans were unknown for nearly one in five immigrant-owned businesses (19.5%).

Looking ahead

CSBC data for the second quarter of 2024 will be released on May 27, 2024.

Note to readers

The Canadian Survey on Business Conditions defines majority ownership as 51% or more. Majority ownership is self-reported for private sector businesses only.

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