ISBN 9781920596354
Pages 46
Dimensions 244 x 170 mm
Published 2017
Publisher Southern African Migration Programme, South Africa
Format Paperback

Refugee Entrepreneurial Economies in Urban South Africa

by Jonathan Crush, Godfrey Tawodzera

One of the defining characteristics of many large cities in the rapidly urbanizing global South is the high degree of informality of shelter, services and economic livelihoods. It is these dynamic, shifting and dangerous informal urban spaces that refugees often arrive in with few resources other than a will to survive, a few social contacts and a drive to support themselves in the absence of financial support from the host government and international agencies. This report addresses the question of variability in economic opportunity and entrepreneurial activity between urban environments within the same destination country - South Africa - by comparing refugee entrepreneurship in Cape Town, South Africa’s second largest city, and several small towns in the province of Limpopo. The research shows that refugee entrepreneurial activity in Limpopo is a more recent phenomenon and largely a function of refugees moving from large cities such as Johannesburg where their businesses and lives are in greater danger. The refugee populations in both areas are equally diverse and tend to be engaged in the same wide range of activities. This report shows that different urban geographies do shape the local nature of refugee entrepreneurial economies, but there are also remarkable similarities in the manner in which unconnected refugee entrepreneurs establish and grow their businesses in large cities and small provincial towns.

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About the Authors

Jonathan Crush

Jonathan Crush is a Professor and CIGI Chair in Global Migration and Development at the Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo, Canada, and an Honorary Professor at the University of Cape Town.

Godfrey Tawodzera

Godfrey Tawodzera is a Senior Lecturer, Department of Geography and Environmental Sciences, University of Limpopo, Polokwane, South Africa.

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