Transnationalism as a Force for Ethnic Minority Enterprise? The Case of Somalis in Leicester


The extant literature on the phenomenon of transnational entrepreneurship has documented that in an era characterized by ‘superdiversity’, ethnic minorities use their diasporic networks to access an array of valuable resources in order to facilitate entrepreneurial activity. The article examines the connection between the notions of ‘superdiversity’, transnationalism and entrepreneurship by illuminating the dynamics of ‘transnational’ Somali business activity in Leicester. Considering this as a critical case, we attempt to address a gap in the literature on ethnic minority enterprise, which has struggled to address the ‘diversification of diversity’ that attends the arrival of new communities in the UK. Moreover, the article contributes to the discussion on the importance of ‘conditioning factors’ in explaining the ‘integration’ of new arrivals. Although familial and co‐ethnic ties influence the availability and interaction of social, financial and human capital, this falls considerably short of neoliberal depictions of globalization. The political‐economic context imposes harsh constraints upon Somali business activity which cannot be circumvented by the utilization of diasporic links, and transnational entrepreneurship is likely to be the preserve of a minority of minorities.