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From Workers to Entrepreneurs: Development of Bangladeshi Migrant Businesses in The Republic of Korea

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Abstract

The emergence of migrant businesses has been a part of the urban landscape in some metropolitan cities of relatively developed countries of East Asia and South-East Asia in recent decades. These businesses are owned and operated by migrant entrepreneurs who were mostly temporary migrant workers in their early phase of migration. Drawing on the experiences of Bangladeshi migrant entrepreneurs in the Republic of Korea (referred to as South Korea throughout), this paper investigates how the migrants reposition themselves from the rank of workers to that of entrepreneurs under circumstances of temporary migration. We argue that opportunity structure and market conditions are central to understanding the development of entrepreneurship in Bangladeshi migrants. The study highlights the ingenuity of migrants in entrepreneurship. We suggest that Bangladeshi entrepreneurs will continue to maintain a dual orientation in cultivating both the ethnic and local markets, and even develop transnational operations to grow their businesses.

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