Etnisch ondernemerschap in gentrifiërend Historisch Molenbeek

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


In general, ethnic entrepreneurship is seen as a tool as well as an opportunity for social mobility and integration, and especially when these enterprises are formed as reaction to unemployment, low-value work and discrimination. A context that is especially true for Historisch Molenbeek. The district, that is separated from the centre of Brussels by a canal, is characterized by a concentration of Moroccan and - by extension - immigrant community and high poverty, crime and unemployment rates.

This is particularly worrying information, knowing that the district shows the first signs of gentrification. Analyzing the migrations and the evolution of factors like income, real estate prizes and household structures appaer to confirm this gentrification process. The canal and metro slot, with its G.O.M.B. habitations, prove to be the two main gentrification axes. Indications of displacement have not yet been found, implying that the gentrification-impact is restricted to the impoverishment and polarization of the districts population.

This work concentrates on the ethnic entrepreneurs, recognizing that they play a key role between the local, characteristic market and community and the potential incoming capital of the gentrifiers. With this in mind , all the entrepreneurs in the research area received a request to participate in a written survey. 32% of them accepted, which resulted in a representative population of 122 entrepreneurs. Their responses were combined with seven oral interviews with entrepreneurs and three interviews with key players in the local economic policy.

The results confirmed in the first place the ethnic, local and reactive (to discrimination) character of the shops. Important in the light of this work is the reaction of entrepreneurs and government vis à vis this starting gentrification. The findings are not very encouraging; although 1/3 of the entrepreneurs shows a willingness to focus on these incoming gentrifiers, only 1/4 entrepreneurs notices the presence of gentrifiers in their district and only 15% of them feels an impact of gentrification in their shop. It is the goal of the government to make the trading centre of the district as attractive as possible for middle class consumers, but there is still a lot of work, especially a lot of effort and investment from the entrepreneurs.
Date of Award8 Sep 2011
Original languageDutch
SupervisorEric Corijn (Promotor)


  • Ethnic entrepreneurship
  • gentrification

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