Two faces of migrant entrepreneurship

Posted on Tuesday 3rd June 2014

Migrants in the UK are entrepreneurial trail-blazers: they are establishing new businesses in record numbers, create employment and are to be found at the cutting-edge of a wide range of sectors.

Well-qualified and resilient migrants are turning to self-employment because they are effectively excluded from large parts of the job market. Their businesses are struggling, poorly resourced and stuck at the bottom rung of the retail sector.

Both faces of a new generation of ‘foreign right now have been revealed in recent research by DueDil and the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME). Both studies, which were commissioned by the Centre for Entrepreneurs, will be discussed tomorrow at a workshop for policy-makers and practitioners in Birmingham.

The DueDil study highlights the good news and counters much of the negative stereotypes surrounding the immigration debate. It found that 17.2 per cent of foreign nationals started their own businesses compared to 10.4 per cent of UK nationals. One in seven of all UK companies is migrant-owned, and they account for 14 per cent of jobs in businesses with a turnover of between £1 million and £200 million.

CREME’s research on smaller and perhaps more typical businesses is based on the actual day-to-day experiences of migrants in the Midlands. It found that migrants – who were usually well-qualified - often turned to self-employment because they suffered discrimination in securing work elsewhere. They struggled to raise appropriate finance and received little if any support from business advice agencies. Yet migrant entrepreneurs were making important contributions despite these constraints. Businesses often served as a ‘hub’ for the local community, thus promoting social integration. Workers employed by migrants were acquiring entrepreneurial skills which they intended to use to set up their own businesses. And many were keen to grow their firms despite the harsh challenges they faced.

The 3rd June workshop* discusses the implications of these findings with key influencers from a range of backgrounds. Scott Craig from the Centre for Entrepreneurs elaborates on the DueDil study in a panel session. Professor Monder Ram, Director of CREME, discusses the challenges of new migrants in business. And Omar Khan of the Runnymede Trust identifies key implications for policy arising from the studies

Professor Monder Ram, Director of Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship

*The workshop is organized and supported by the Institute for Advanced Studies, based at the University of Birmingham.

Find out more

Report: "Migrant Entrepreneurs: Building our businesses, creating our jobs"