Volume 46 Number 182,
July-September 2015

Cross-Border Business Experience: Migration, Crisis and Financing, Alicia Girón and Eugenia Correa (coords.), Institute of Economic Research, UNAM, Miguel Ángel Porrúa and Conacyt, Mexico 2014.

The book, Cross-Border Business Experience: Migration, Crisis and Financing, is the outcome of the collective work of expert researchers on the topic. The work focuses on the knowledge and practices of Mexican immigrant entrepreneurs and their impact on their origin economies in Mexico. This text is an essential contribution because it combines the vision, characteristics and knowledge accumulated among these economic actors, who are otherwise given little notice in international migration studies. This research is crucial to analyzing the phenomenon of migration from the perspective of immigrant entrepreneurs who play a role in cross-border communities, the need to meet their demands with financing, savings and investment policies, with proposals for financial services and development instruments.

The book begins with an excellent prologue by Rodolfo García Zamora, expert in migration studies, and then consists of eight chapters that address each of the dimensions of the economic, financial and cross-border realities of immigrant entrepreneurs and their families, situations that together comprise their business experience in the United States economy. It also looks at actions of the cross-border communities that have joined this historical process resulting from international migration. One key contribution made by the study is the statistical analysis and economic indicators proposed to shed light on the realities of immigrant entrepreneurs in the United States. The text also offers a chapter on the methodology used, which is far more detailed than what many research papers would share. The material is supported by databases, interviews and statistics, which makes it an indispensable guide for future research.

The objective of the study was to analyze the entrepreneurial capacities and experiences of Mexican immigrants in the United States (both individuals and organizations), their options for business development in their communities and regions of origin, the demand for financial services associated with potential savings or investment projects, and the limitations and obstacles they face in doing all of this.

The economic and financial crisis had a tremendous impact on the businesses and welfare of nearly all business sectors, although for some, such as Mexican entrepreneurs, it undoubtedly represented an opportunity to grow their businesses.

Each chapter discusses a different aspect of the entrepreneurial and business skills these people have acquired and the cross-border family mobility that exists, as well as the demand for financial services among these groups and their features and performance, the potential capacity to demand financing for productive projects in their communities of origin linked to human capital, business experience, condition of assets and capital transfers and with that the role of remittances, the capacity for the cross-border expansion of their companies to their regions of origin, the potential demand for portfolio investments, insurance and savings funds for retirement and the mortgage financing process, as well as the growth of a culture of equity investment.

The various chapters analyze the phenomenon of Mexican migration to the United States, especially the role of Mexican entrepreneurs, who are key economic actors in the business space formed by immigrants in the wake of the 2006-2008 financial crisis that afflicted one of the most important economies in the world: the United States. Mexican immigrant entrepreneurs have accumulated significant knowledge to act in the business world, but the crisis generated a wave of closures derived from the bankruptcy of key banks that had offered financial services to the sector.

One of the changes observed is the generational shift of a new group of business immigrants with other strengths to handle such complex environments. One especially striking result of the crisis is that this new wave of immigrant entrepreneurs tends to have different characteristics. They are entrepreneurs who have made use of financial services in the United States, and as such, the study found that after the crisis, these same entrepreneurs saw their profits and market shares fall. One response has been to reduce the remittances sent to family members in Mexico.

Another impact was the expulsion of a significant number of entrepreneurs from the market. Although many businesses went bust, others became more robust thanks to the support of immigrant networks that have emerged as part of the Mexican immigrant experience. This book identifies and portrays the profile of these entrepreneurs, who tend to be concentrated in certain sectors of the economy, primarily the services and food production sector, followed by trade and then professional, scientific, and technical services.

This research brings together a broad range of aspects of the immigrant experience, one of which is the impact of the financial and mortgage crisis on entrepreneurs. The limits of the economic financing model are analyzed, revealing how entrepreneurs put into place a series of business strategies to deal with the financial crisis, resorting to family and personal savings in the majority of cases and in some cases asking for credit from banking institutions. These entrepreneurs are aware of the importance of financing, but also of the enormous obstacles that stand in the way of accessing it. Their condition as immigrants has not been a barrier to developing their businesses.

The study of these business trajectories, the financial culture that exists to launch a business, the financial services, and sources of financing to which these entrepreneurs have resorted are all covered in this book, as well as the role of family networks, Mexican and business communities, business organizations, and financial support. To all of these factors, the book throws into the mix the variable of United State immigration policy and the obstacles that immigrants face in general to get involved in business.

One chapter to which all readers should pay careful mind discusses investment through productive projects and the role of remittances in communities of origin, which go beyond development funding: remittances and the future of productive projects. It is time for development banking to play a bigger part in achieving productive circuits and reducing poverty in Mexican communities.

María de Jesús López Amador
Institute of Economic Research – unam

Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 192, January-March is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
CP 04510, México, D.F. Tel (52 55) 56 23 01 05 and (52 55) 56 24 23 39, fax (52 55) 56 23 00 97, www.probdes.iiec.unam.mx, revprode@unam.mx. Journal Editor: Alicia Girón González. Reservation of rights to exclusive use of the title: 04-2012-070613560300-203, ISSN: pending. Person responsible for the latest update of this issue: Minerva García, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México D.F., latest update: Feb 23th, 2018.
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The online journal Problemas del Desarrollo. Revista Latinoamericana de Economía corresponds to the printed edition of the same title with ISSN 0301-7036