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Challenges and key success factors for entrepreneurship by Cameroonians in Quebec


Canadian Immigration Consultant

Doctor DBA, Business Science Institute

Laval, Québec, Canada

(DBA thesis supervised by Pr. E. Kamdem)

Emmanuel KAMDEM


ESSEC, Douala University / IME, Douala*

*Faculty member of the Business Science Institute



What are the characteristics of entrepreneurship by Cameroonians living in Quebec? What is the influence of support structures and practices on their entrepreneurial success? How can entrepreneurial activity leverage their integration into the labour market? Can Cameroonian entrepreneurship be considered as a dimension of diversity management in the Quebec context? These are all questions that help us understand the challenges of socio-professional integration of Cameroonians living in Quebec.

Research impact(s) and key findings

The results of this DBA thesis reveal that the entrepreneurial vocation of Cameroonians residing in Quebec is a response to the difficulties encountered in their professional integration in the host country. These difficulties stem from different sources: migratory (the lack of preparation in the country of origin before arriving in Quebec); climatic (confrontation with the cold and icy climate); linguistic (skewed understanding of Quebec French); academic (partial and limited recognition of the course of study completed in the country of origin and of the qualifications obtained); and cultural (slow adaptation to the prevailing social norms). Faced with these difficulties, those involved in a precarious and vulnerable migratory process take the entrepreneurial risk in the hope of achieving their objective of professional independence.

The contributions of this doctoral research can be seen at three levels. At the managerial level, the focus is on self-financing, family financing and financing through ethnic community networks (Descourrière and Chaze, 2006). The Cameroonian entrepreneurs interviewed started their projects with their own funds and/or loans from relatives or friends already settled in Quebec. On the societal level, entrepreneurial support structures are numerous and varied in Quebec. Unfortunately, potential Cameroonian entrepreneurs do not make optimal use of them, being unfamiliar with the administrative procedures in force (Cisneros, et al., 2021). Conceptually, Cameroonian entrepreneurship in Quebec can be described as hybrid or cooperative (Battista Dagnino, Le Roy Yami, 2007). These entrepreneurs behave both cooperatively (community solidarity during family events) and competitively (individual competition in the realisation of entrepreneurial projects).

Theoretical research foundations

This study draws on four complementary theoretical approaches to analyse the entrepreneurial behaviour of individuals involved in a migratory journey outside their country of origin. The situational approach is developed around the themes of job loss, religious discrimination and language (Blais and Toulouse, 1990). The structural approach highlights the opportunities and entrepreneurial strategies of ethnic communities (Aldrich and Waldinger, 1990). The cultural approach focuses on the cultural characteristics of entrepreneurial communities (Busenitz et al., 2003; Kamdem, 2001, 2015). The reticular approach explores the social capital and networks (family, ethnic, associative, tontine, etc.) of entrepreneurs (Granovetter, 1973, 2018). This pluralism of theoretical approaches is justified by the complexity of the research topic and the social category concerned. This complexity requires a multidisciplinary approach (entrepreneurial, economic, legal, anthropological).

Research Methodology

This being an exploratory study, the pragmatist constructivist epistemological paradigm is used to contribute to the co-construction of an entrepreneurial model for Cameroonians living in Quebec. Data collection required triangulation to gather as much relevant information as possible. The auto-ethnographic method (Diop Sall, 2018) allowed for the writing of four cases of businesses created by the doctoral student in different sectors of activity: retail (Dollar Québec); fast food (Valentine); energy assessment (Carrefourenergie); and Canadian immigration consulting (Immigration Bellevie). Five semi-structured interviews were conducted with entrepreneurs of Cameroonian origin living in Quebec. Various documents from the Quebec archives were used to decipher their characteristics, in relation to the theoretical models of immigrant entrepreneurship available in the literature.

Further reading

Aldrich, H. E. & Waldinger R. (1990). “Ethnicity and entrepreneurship”. Annual review of sociology, p. 111-135.

Battista Dagnino, G., Le Roy, F., Yami, S. (2007). « La dynamique des stratégies de coopétition ». Revue française de gestion, 7(176), p. 87-98.

Blais, R. A. & Toulouse, J.-M. (1990). « Les motivations des entrepreneurs : une étude empirique de 2278 fondateurs d'entreprises dans 14 pays ». Revue internationale des P.M.E., 3(3-4), 269-300.

Busenitz, L. W., Shepherd, D. A., Nelson, T., Zacharakis, A. L., Chandler G. N. (2003). “Entrepreneurship in emergence: Past trends and future directions”. Journal of Management,

Cisneros, L. et al. (2021). Entrepreneuriat immigrant au Québec. Un écosystème entrepreneurial catalyseur ou inhibiteur ? Institut d’Entrepreneuriat, Banque Nationale, HEC Montréal.

Descourrière, L. et Chaze, C. (dir.) (2006). Créateurs d’entreprise immigrés et microcrédit. Paris, Association pour le droit à l’initiative économique (ADIE).

Diop Sall, F. (2018). « La méthode ethnographique ». Dans F. Chevalier (dir.), Les méthodes de recherche du DBA. EMS, Editions Business Science Institute, p. 140-157.

Granovetter, M. (1973). “The strength of weak ties”. American Journal of sociology, 78(6), p. 1360-1380.

Granovetter, M. (1985). “Economic action and social structure: the problem of embeddedness”. American Journal of sociology, 91(3), p. 481-510.

Kamdem, E. (2001). « Entrepreneuriat et sciences sociales en Afrique ». Management International, 6(1), p. 17-32.

Kamdem, E., avec la collaboration de R. Nkakleu (2015). Profils et pratiques d’entrepreneurs camerounais, Paris, L’Harmattan.

Keywords: entrepreneurship, assistance, immigration, ethnicity, Cameroon, Quebec.


See also...

The DBA defense of Ledoux Tchuisseu Ngongang

Emmanuel Kamdems' books & articles via


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