Original Research

Formal financial institutions financing of immigrant small and medium enterprises in South Africa

Francis T. Asah, Lynette Louw
Acta Commercii | Vol 21, No 1 | a953 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ac.v21i1.953 | © 2021 Francis T. Asah, Lynette Louw | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 March 2021 | Published: 31 August 2021

About the author(s)

Francis T. Asah, Department of Management, Faculty of Commerce, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa
Lynette Louw, Department of Management, Faculty of Commerce, Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa


Orientation: Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) owned by immigrants in developing economies, such as South Africa, tend to trust formal financial institutions (FFIs) for financial support.

Research purpose: Even though immigrant SMEs create opportunities that have important implications for the South African economy; less than 5% of them can access credit from FFIs. This study, therefore, explores the accessibility of credit from FFIs to immigrant SMEs from a supply-side perspective.

Motivation for the study: Research studies on improving financing from FFIs to immigrant SMEs will help to boost the survival of immigrant SMEs and promote economic development in South Africa.

Research design, approach and method: This qualitative research design used an interpretivistic research paradigm to achieve the research objectives. Data were collected from 16 purposively selected participants and analysed using the five-step process of content analysis outlined by Terre Blanche, Durrheim and Kelly.

Main findings: The findings revealed that FFIs are uninterested and biased against considering financing immigrant SMEs and tend to charge them higher interest rates. Collateral, equity contribution and the possession of a South African permanent resident permit with a South African ID are the most important requirements that impact the willingness of FFIs to finance immigrant SMEs.

Practical/managerial implications: Implications for the financial institutions in policy development were provided.

Contribution/value-add: This research study highlights the requirements and the challenges faced by immigrant SMEs in accessing credit from FFIs. The use of qualitative research design further contributed to the literature on FFIs financing of immigrant SMEs.


formal financial institutions; supply-side; credit; immigrant; SME


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Crossref Citations

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doi: 10.20525/ijrbs.v11i10.2086