Yvonne RIAÑO, Department of Geography, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, Switzerland
Christina MITTMASSER, Department of Geography, University of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, Switzerland
Transnational migrant entrepreneurs (TMEs) are understood as immigrants who are engaged in border crossing business activities involving their country of origin and destination, and comprising urban, peri-urban and rural areas. Pioneering studies noticed that increased mobilities created new opportunities for migrants to perform entrepreneurial activities across national borders. Scholars have argued that In a globalized and highly mobile world, being able to move across national borders represents a valuable resource for migrant entrepreneurs, as it can contribute to improving their livelihoods, and potentially contribute to local development. Overall, however, we do not sufficiently understand to what extent, and under what conditions, the ability of TMEs to move across national borders constitutes an asset for their businesses. Besides, we have little understanding of the different kinds of opportunities that migrants living in poorer areas, and South-to-South migration trajectories face as compared to those living in rich areas with North-to-North and South-to-North migration trajectories. To address these gaps, we offer a novel analytical approach, entitled spatial (im)mobility capital, which examines how the interplay of an entrepreneur's social position, geographical location, and personal strategies influence her/his possibilities of using spatial mobility as a valuable resource. We focus on small-scale migrant entrepreneurs who conduct cross-border businesses and live in two contrasting locations: Colombia (Cúcuta) and Switzerland (Zurich). Our methods combine biographical interviews, geographical and mental maps, ethnographic observations, and participatory Minga workshops. Our analysis reveals a typology of situations regarding the different opportunities that the studied entrepreneurs face to capitalize on spatial (im)mobility, and move safely across national borders.
Keywords: transnational migrant entrepreneurship|spatial mobility|business advancement|Colombia|Switzerland