Foreign bosses take charge in Portugal

Foreign employers are becoming more common in Portugal.
According to a new study, the number of foreign bosses has increased 15% in the last decade and now represents 5% of the country’s employers, while the number of Portuguese ‘bosses’ is steadily dropping.
Not surprisingly, the Algarve is the second region behind Lisbon with the highest number of foreign entrepreneurs.
These conclusions come in a study by the National Statistics Institute (INE) entitled ‘Foreign Employers in Portugal: what the Census highlights’.
It is based on data from the country’s 2011 population survey and as such has no information on the government’s Golden Visa scheme – brought in a year later to attract foreign investment.
To give a general picture, the study shows there were over 23,000 foreign employers in Portugal in 2011, out of a nationwide total of over 435,000.
While the number of Portuguese employers is much higher, the tendency has been for foreign employers to increase (15% between 2001 and 2011), with national employers dropping (7% between 2001 and 2011).
It is a tendency also seen in the self-employed sector. While the number of national self-employed workers has dropped dramatically from 632,000 to just over 271,000 in the last 30 years, it has increased with regard to foreigners – and percentage-wise more foreigners are now registered as their own bosses than nationals.
Data shows that 12.1% of foreigners were working as their own bosses in 2011, as opposed to only 10.5% of Portugal’s working-age population.
Says the study’s researcher Catarina Reis Oliveira, the decrease in Portuguese employers and self-employed workers has been caused by the country’s precarious economic situation and the closure of companies.
On the other hand, entrepreneurship among foreigners has been encouraged by changes to Portuguese law.
The study shows that the majority of foreign businesspeople reside in Lisbon (9,423), while the Algarve comes in second with 3,565.
The Algarve also stands out when the study findings are broken down into how foreign employers account for the total number of employers per municipality.
Eight Algarve boroughs feature in the national top-10.
Lagos comes first, with 21.8% of its employers being foreigners, followed by Loulé with 18.4% and Albufeira with 17.8%. Amadora (12.2%) and Cascais (12%), near Lisbon, are the only non-Algarve representatives on the list, which also includes Lagoa (17.1%), Portimão (14.1%), Silves (13.8%), Faro (11.6%) and Tavira (10.7%).
It is also in the Algarve where the largest numbers of UK and German bosses have settled (59.7% and 31.5%).
However, the majority of non-European employers can be found in Lisbon: Cape-Verdeans (85.9%), Angolans (63.9%), Brazilians (61.8%) and Romanians (52.8%).
A considerable number of Chinese (38.5%) and Ukrainian (37.8%) bosses have also settled in the capital – while French employers favour northern Portugal (34.4%).
When it comes to the country with the most employers in Portugal, Brazil tops the list with 30.6% , followed by China (13%), Ukraine (6%), the UK (4.9%) and Romania (4.7%).
China stands out for being the country with the largest number of people working as their own bosses – around 42% are registered as self-employed.
Intriguingly, both the majority of foreign and Portuguese bosses work in the wholesale and retail trade sectors (25.4% and 24.9% respectively).
Housing and restaurant/catering represent the second largest portion of foreign employers (18.2%), followed by construction (12.6%) – while Portugal’s self employed are most commonly found in manufacturing with housing and the restaurant business coming second and third.