Are gender and immigration a double disadvantage? : Exploring experiences of Sri Lankan female Immigrant Entrepreneurs in London, United Kingdom

Abstract views: 177 / PDF downloads: 103




immigrant entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs, gender, qualitative, narratives


Ethnic minority female entrepreneurs play a vital role in developed countries yet rarely receive the recognition they deserve. The research looks into and explores the experience of Sri Lankan female immigrant entrepreneurs and their challenges in London, UK. The research followed the path of a narrative approach of qualitative methodology, which is known to be an efficient method to explore the experiences of people through a sociologically based theory on “othering” and “belonging”. Seven participants were purposively approached and asked to narrate their stories and share their experiences. The research findings suggest that female immigrant entrepreneurs face many hardships in their businesses. Institutional and consumer racism and a lack of networking are the external barriers they had to face. The internal challenges include the liability of newness and host countries cultural values. Sri Lankan female entrepreneurs’ identities are labelled as an “othered” social group in the UK business community context,  treated as outsiders and made to face structural exclusion. However, gender is not the real villain; ethnicity is the actual undercover devil at business. This research offers a unique insight into female and immigrant entrepreneurship, thereby casting light on an aspect of Sri Lankan female entrepreneurs lives in the UK, which is currently under-researched.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biography

Nadee Sheresha Surangi Hapugoda Achchi Kankanamge, Department of Commerce and Financial ManagementUniversity of KelaniyaSri Lanka

Dr H.A.K.N.S. Surangi is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Lincoln, United Kingdom. She has a longstanding interest in female entrepreneurship, gender, ethnic minority entrepreneurship, immigration, entrepreneurial networking, and small business development in Asian countries.


Aliaga-Isla, R. & Rialp, A. (2013) . Systematic review of immigrant entrepreneurship literature: previous findings and ways forward. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 25(9), 819-844.

Angelini, V., Casi, L. & Corazzini, L. (2015). Life satisfaction of immigrants: does cultural assimilation matter?. Journal of Population and Economics, 28 (1), 817–844.

Asian Business Association (2007) Spotlight on Asian Business Their contribution to London, Greater London Authority.

Bizri, R. M. (2017). Refugee-entrepreneurship: A social capital perspective. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 29(9–10), 847–868.

Barrett, G., Jones, T., McEvoy, D., & McGoldrick, C. (2002). The economic embeddedness of immigrant enterprise in Britain. International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behavior & Research, 8(1/2), 11-31.

Carter, S., Ram,M., Trehan, K. and Jones, T. (2013). Diversity and SMEs: Existing Evidence and Policy Tensions. ERC White Paper No.3, UK

Carson D., Bernice K. & Kamaljeet S. (2021). A systematic literature review of determinants of immigrant entrepreneurship motivations. Journal of Small Business & Entrepreneurship, DOI: 10.1080/08276331.2021.1997490

Collins, L.A., Fakoussa, R. (2015).Ethnic minority entrepreneurship: an examination of Pakistani entrepreneurs in the UK. Journal of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, 4 (2).

Dhaliwal, S. 2007. Dynamism and enterprise: Asian female entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom. Journal of Immigration and Refugee Studies. 5 (2), 45-64.

Dheer, R.J.S. (2018)Entrepreneurship by immigrants: a review of existing literature and directions for future research. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Management 14, 555–614 .

Duan, C. and Sandhu, K. (2021), “Immigrant entrepreneurship motivation – scientific production, field development, thematic antecedents, measurement elements and research agenda”, Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol.

Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (2020) Findings of the Small Business Survey 2019 on the performance of small and medium-sized businesses with employees, UK

Duan, C., Sandhu, K. and Kotey, B. (2021).Understanding immigrant entrepreneurship: a home-country entrepreneurial ecosystem perspective. New England Journal of Entrepreneurship, 24(1), 2-20.

Ensign, P.C. and Robinson, N.P. (2011). Entrepreneurs because they are Immigrants or Immigrants because they are Entrepreneurs?: A Critical Examination of the Relationship between the Newcomers and the Establishment.The Journal of Entrepreneurship,20(1), 53-73.

Fong, E. and Shen, J. (2011) .Explaining Ethnic Enclave, Ethnic Entrepreneurial and Employment Niches: A Case Study of Chinese in Canadian Immigrant Gateway Cities. Urban Studies, 48(8),1605-1633.

GEM (2021). Women’s Entrepreneurship 2020/21:Thriving Through Crisis. Global Entrepreneurship Research Association, UK.

Kazlou, A. and Wennberg, K. (2021).How kinship resources alleviate structural disadvantage: self-employment duration among refugees and labor migrants. Journal of Enterprising Communities: People and Places in the Global Economy, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.

Lam, W., Harris, P., & Yang, S. (2019). Understanding U.K. ethnic minority entrepreneurship from an enterprise culture perspective. Journal of Public Affairs, 19(2). 1002-1022.

Laurence, G.A. (2016). Is resistance futile? Acculturation and disadvantage theory in immigrant entrepreneurship. Journal of International Business and Entrepreneurship Development ,9(1),88-109.

Malki, B., Uman, T. & Pittino, D. (2020).The entrepreneurial financing of the immigrant entrepreneurs: a literature review. Small Business Economics,

Munkejord, M.C. (2017). Local and transnational networking among female immigrant entrepreneurs in peripheral rural contexts: Perspectives on Russians in Finnmark, Norway. European Urban and Regional Studies,. 24(1) 7–20.

Ndoro, T.T.R., Louw, L. &

Kanyangale, M., 2018,

‘Communicaon channels in

the host community market

adopted by Chinese

immigrant entrepreneurs’,

Acta Commercii 1

Ndoro, T.T.R., Louw, L. & Kanyangale, M. (2018).Communication on channels in the host community market adopted by Chinese immigrant entrepreneurs. Acta Commercial 1, 18(1),1-9.

OECD/European Commission (2021), The Missing Entrepreneurs 2021: Policies for Inclusive Entrepreneurship and SelfEmployment, OECD Publishing, Paris,

Promise O,, A., Gervase I, C., Khosa, R. M., Eresia-Eke, C., Berhe H., S., & Irene, B. (2021). African Immigrant Entrepreneurship in the UK: The Hidden Hand of Family Influence on Entrepreneurial Orientation. Harvard Deusto Business Research, 10(1), 53-80.

Samaratunge, R., Barrett, R., & Rajapakse, T. (2015). Sri Lankan entrepreneurs in Australia: Chance or choice?. Journal of Small Business & Enterprise Development, 22(4), 782-796.

Sepulveda, L., Syrett, S., & Lyon, F. (2011). Population super-diversity and new migrant enterprise: The case of London. Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, 23(7-8), 469–497.

Sithas, M. and Surangi, H.A.K.N.S. (2021) .Systematic Literature Review on Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship: Citation and Thematic Analysis. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 8 (3), 183-202.

Udah, H. & Singh, P. (2019). Identity, Othering and belonging: toward an understanding of difference and the experiences of African immigrants to Australia.Social Identities, 25:6, 843-859.

Ullah, F., Rahman, M. Z., Smith, R., &Beloucif, A. (2016). What influences ethnic entrepreneurs’ decision to start-up: Some evidence from Aberdeen, Scotland. Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, 23(4), 1081-1103.

Webster, N.A. & Kontkanen, Y. (2021). Space and place in immigrant entrepreneurship literature in the Nordic countries: A systematic literature review. Norwegian Journal of Geography, 75:4, 221-236.




How to Cite

Hapugoda Achchi Kankanamge, N. S. S. (2022). Are gender and immigration a double disadvantage? : Exploring experiences of Sri Lankan female Immigrant Entrepreneurs in London, United Kingdom. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies, 9(2), 199–215.



Original Manuscript