Daphne Halkias, Hellenic American University
Abstract: Greece has experienced rapid growth in immigrant and refugee populations since 1990. Most are immigrants from Albania and throughout the Balkan region. Immigrant and refugee groups arriving in Greece also come from the former Soviet Union, Southeast Asia and Africa. Some of these newcomers started small businesses in their quest to become economically self-sufficient, serve the consumer needs of fellow newcomers, and integrate into community life. Research cites that immigrant businesses are closely intertwined with national interest in community economic development. As well, national and research statistics have reflected that immigrant entrepreneurship has a direct economic impact on local economies. Finally, research in the area of immigrant small business development must also address reasons that the immigrant small business entrepreneur gravitates to self-employment and innovative financing methods. The purpose of this research was two-fold: 1) to review the extant literature on social and economic factors influencing immigrant entrepreneurship in Greece, and 2) to determine characteristics and business profiles of Albanian immigrant-owned small businesses within the municipality of Attiki – the location of Athens, Greece’s capital city and largest urban center, which has experienced rapid growth in immigrant populations between 1990 and 2005. This is the first paper of a dynamic five-year project to research and promote the unique entrepreneurial and self-employment spirit brought by immigrants and refugees to Greece.