Purpose: Recent refugees in the Netherlands face barriers on the road to starting their own business. Few studies have looked at barriers specific to recent refugees. In this article, these barriers are analysed through the eyes of support programmes that aim to help recent refugees to become an entrepreneur. Design/methodology/approach: The experiences of seven support programmes were explored using in-depth interviews to evaluate how the approaches were supporting recent refugees. The programmes were mostly private initiatives with public funding, focused on local support for recent refugees. They were first interviewed in 2017, followed by in-depth interviews in 2018. Their narratives were used to gain in-depth impressions of the route recent refugees have to follow to start a business. Findings: The results strongly suggest that the most prominent obstacles recent refugees face are connected to the political-institutional context of Dutch society. National provisions and the local implementation of these provisions have created a complicated web that is hard to untangle for newcomers. Language skills and network formation are additional barriers. Research limitations/implications: These barriers are not overcome by using traditional education and training programmes focused around skills and motivation of the potential entrepreneur. Support programmes should focus on support to understand or overcome the bureaucratic complexity. The trainings should also increase language skills and offer support in network formation. Originality/value: The empirical data in this study reveal that the focus of training programmes may have to shift to overcome barriers in the political-institutional context.

DOI: 10.1108/JSBED-09-2020-0314
ISSN: 1462-6004