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The impact of Chinese Ethnic Economy and Entrepreneurship on Italian SMEs ecosystem

How Chinese immigrants entrepreneurs are contributing to the Italian SMEs economy and growth.

Entrepreneurship in China has grown at an exponential rate forging disruptive changes not only to China but increasingly also to the rest of the world. China’s entrepreneurial spirit runs deeper than just in business. It manifests itself in the government and in the desires of ordinary people.  Premier Li Keqiang called for “mass entrepreneurship and innovation” and made it the leading agenda of China’s national economic strategy.

Chinese entrepreneurs are interested in Italy on any number of levels. A large volume of attractive assets is on sale, and with deep discounts.

But geography is probably a better way to understand their interest in Italy: after all, Italy was the final destination of the Silk Road linking European traders with Asia for centuries.

During this gold rush 2.0, what are the important contributions of Chinese ethnic economy and entrepreneurs ( e.i. Chinese communities residing and working in Italy) to the SMEs ecosystems in Italy?

Chinese nationals abroad are usually considered one of the migrant/minority communities characterized by a high degree of social closure and self-referential communitarization, largely relying on in-group relationships, reciprocity and bounded solidarity.*

On the other side, Chinese residents in Italy distinguish themselves for a high entrepreneurship rate: in a context where SMEs are focal in local economic systems, Chinese firms don’t just replace disappearing street-corner shops, but enter also in a competitive-cooperative game with Italian firms: not by chance, settlement patterns of Chinese in Italy widely involve some of the most traditional and well-known industrial districts and wholesaling centres of the country.

As result, Italy has a rising population of Chinese residents introducing flourishing businesses across varying sectors, making them a key source of economic growth.

Breaking down the numbers:

The number of new Chinese companies in Italy rose by 6.1% while Italian firms posted a 1.6% decline in growth.

In 2016:

  • Holders of a regular permit of stay were an estimate of were 340,000.
  • 271,000 PRC nationals residents in Italy
  • 74,000 ( +32%)  Chinese business owners and associates in Italy
    • 18561 were women business owners
    • 6088 were “under 30” business owners
  • 49,000 personals firms

Considering the that the above mentioned national residents stand for the 5,4% of the total legally working foreigners in Italy and hypothesising the same productivity for each of them, it can be calculated an estimated added value of more than 6 billions euro in 2016.

Entrepreneurs, communities, residents in Italy which are contributing to network of quality jobs and opportunities and mainly focused on the following Industries and regions:

  • G WHOLESALE & RETAIL
  • F CONSTRUCTIONS
  • I HOTELLERIE, F&B, RESTAURANT
  • C MANUFACTURING 
  • N  TRAVEL & CONSULTANCY
  • S  OTHER SERVICES
  • H TRANSPORTATION
  • M  SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGIES 
  • A AGRICOLTURE
  • J COMMUNICATION
  • L REAL ESTATE
  • LOMBARDIA
  • LAZIO
  • EMILIA ROMAGNA
  • TOSCANA
  • VENETO
  • PIEMONTE
  • CAMPANIA

On these basis we can assume, despite the high degree of social closure which identifies the Chinese nationals abroad, that Chinese ethnic economy and entrepreneurs can jointly bring important added values, opportunities and economic growth into the Italian SMEs and local production systems.

Tommaso Ferruccio Camponeschi