Nearly one-quarter of refugees in Brazil are entrepreneurs, according to an executive summary published by the UN Committee for Refugees. This is significantly less than the national average, considering that the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reported that 38 percent of Brazilians own a business.

However, almost 80 percent responded positively to whether they would like to become business owners, demonstrating the large entrepreneurial potential of this group. When asked about barriers to owning a business, most cited a lack of financial resources.

</span></p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-map" data-src="visualisation/433615"></div> <p><script src=""></script></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">The UN’s executive summary is based on a survey of 487 of the 5,314 refugees registered on the Federal Police&#8217;s database. However, the Ministry of Justice recognizes that there are over 10,000 displaced people in the country, defined as those who left their home countries due to war, persecution, or armed conflict. Over 70 percent come from four countries: Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Angola, and Colombia.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Despite its image of being a welcoming country for foreigners and refugees, the number of displaced people in Brazil is low in comparison to countries of comparable size or neighbors in South America. The Ministry of Justice recently announced plans to accept up to 20,000 Syrian refugees per year, which would triple the refugee population in Brazil, but only represents a fraction of the </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">5.6 million people who have fled Syria since 2011</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">.</span></p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/433578"></div> <p><script src=""></script></p> <h2>Refugees in Brazil: Work and education</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Registered refugees generally have a higher educational background than the average Brazilian. Only three of the 487 people surveyed declared themselves illiterate, corresponding to less than 1 percent. According to the National Household Sample Survey—held every year by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE)—7 percent of Brazilians over 15 cannot read or write.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Moreover, 34 percent of respondents completed some form of higher education and 84 percent hold a high school diploma. However, of those who were surveyed, only 14 (3 percent) were able to revalidate their diploma after arriving to Brazil. This might explain why over two-thirds do not use their professional skills in their current employment.</span></p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/433539"></div> <p><script src=""></script></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">A challenging job market was cited as the number one barrier to employment and average income is low, with 79.5 percent declaring they earn less than BRL 3,000 per month and a quarter declaring they received less than the minimum wage.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Although 41 percent reported having suffered some form of discrimination, only 21 percent cited their nationality as a barrier to employment. Even fewer (12.4 percent) listed their immigration status as an obstacle for entrepreneurship.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Of those reporting discrimination, almost three-quarters cited xenophobia as the motivation and half reported discrimination on the basis of race. As Brazil has </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">a complicated racial history</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">, it is likely that the level of discrimination faced by refugees is dependent on their country of origin. Congolese refugees, who are overwhelmingly black, may suffer from xenophobia and racism.</span></p> <div class="flourish-embed flourish-chart" data-src="visualisation/433560"></div> <p><script src=""></script></p> <h2>Questions of integration</h2> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Integration was a key focus of the summary, which aligns with the global discussion surrounding immigrants. Germany, the EU country that accepted the most Syrian refugees after France, found that language-learning was </span><a href=""><span style="font-weight: 400;">tightly linked to job acquisition and satisfaction</span></a><span style="font-weight: 400;">. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Respondents overwhelmingly reported that they speak Portuguese, with 235 taking lessons and another 203 learning through other means. Yet, difficulties with the language was the fourth most-cited barrier to entrepreneurship. This can be explained by the differences between colloquial and bureaucratic language. The vast majority of refugees have Brazilian friends, but nearly 20 percent of those who wish to open a business report a lack a knowledge of rules and procedures. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Most have acquired the proper documents needed to live and work in Brazil. Nearly all have a Taxpayer ID (99 percent) and most are registered to work (84 percent). Considering 5.7 percent are not looking for work, due to their position as homemakers or retirees, it is likely that the 19.5 percent that are looking for work are eligible to do so legally. </span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">While discrimination may slow the process, the above-average levels of education and familiarity with reasonable levels of the Portuguese language indicate a high potential for workforce placement, entrepreneurship, and social integration.

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SocietyJun 19, 2019

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