Entrepreneurship by Migrants and Refugees

Recent figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that refugees are the most entrepreneurial migrants in Australia. Studies have also revealed that business start-up rates for women refugees are in fact higher than for Australia-born women. Migrants and refugees are more often than not compelled to consider entrepreneurship as the only pathway to self-employment and sustainable livelihood in how they reconstitute their identity in a host country post migration. Often this journey involves substantial ‘deskilling’ of migrants and refugees in the reconstitution of their identities as self-employed, and significant level of ‘refeminisation’, or redomestication’ for women in how they engage in entrepreneurship. While policy makers and support agencies are advocating entrepreneurship as the 'solution' for social inclusion and well-being of migrant and refugees in Australia, very little attention has been paid to build entrepreneurial skills and capabilities within this community to create and operate successful enterprises.

This project will investigate the factors that lead migrants and refugees to move into entrepreneurship rather than seek regular employment. Further, the project will explore how the social, political, and economic context of migrants and refugees influences their capabilities and behaviours in the start-up process as they reconstitute their identity in the host country.

An in-depth understanding of migrant and refugee entrepreneurship in Australia is important for appreciating the interplay between the social, political, and economic context of the migrant and refugee status and its influence on the development of an entrepreneurial identity. For the government policy planners and practitioners, this project will provide valuable insight to facilitate the inclusion of migrant and refugees in the economy for sustainable enterprise development.

Strategic Need

Organisational transformation and innovation capabilities enhancement

Proposed postgraduate research program

  • School: School of Management
  • Program name: PhD (Management)/Master's by Research (Management)

Value and duration

A stipend of $32,000 per year over the duration of three years.

Number of scholarships available



To be considered for scholarship you must hold, or be currently completing either:

  • Master by research
  • Master by coursework with a significant research component graded as high distinction, or equivalent
  • Honours degree achieving first class honours
  • 4 year bachelor degree achieving a GPA of 4 or equivalent (80% or above).

If you do not hold one of the above qualifications you will only be considered for scholarship if you have previous peer reviewed publications or significant research experience.

Please make sure that you check the individual eligibility requirements of these scholarships prior to submitting your application.

It is also important to note that the scholarship rounds are highly competitive and satisfying the eligibility requirements does not guarantee a successful outcome. When a scholarship round closes all applications are received are ranked in order of merit. This process takes five to six weeks to complete. Applicants are typically advised of the outcome of a scholarship round five to six weeks after the round closes for applications.

How to apply

International applicants need to apply for admission via iApply and ensure that there is an offer in place before submitting a scholarship application via the Google form. Domestic applicants can continue to apply for both admission and scholarship via this PDF form. Domestic applicants who already hold an offer of admission from RMIT for a PhD or Masters by Research program but have not enrolled may apply for a scholarship using the Google form.

Open date

Applications are open until 4 May 2018. International applicants must have an offer of place prior to applying for a scholarship and are encouraged to submit an admission application by 27 April 2018.

Terms and conditions

See the research scholarship terms and conditions (PDF 279KB 10p) for more information.

Supervisory Team/Contact

Dr. Afreen Huq
+61 3 9925 5198

Professor Pia Arenius
+61 3 9925 5142