Productivity From Below: Addressing the Productivity Challenges of Microbusinesses

There is a lack of understanding around the most common enterprise in the UK. Over 1.1 million microbusinesses across the country employ 18.6% of all private sector employees, and account for £1 in every £6 of turnover from employing firms. 

Yet despite this economic contribution, these vibrant enterprises (each with fewer than 10 staff) rarely feature in contemporary debates on productivity, attract policy attention or access mainstream business support programmes and initiatives. This results in knowledge gaps on the meaning of productivity, the role of business support providers, and the kind of interventions that might make a difference to such firms.

The project is a genuine academic-practitioner collaboration with a commitment to working hand-in-hand with local businesses in neglected communities. The aim is to lift the lid on the challenges facing microbusiness by focusing on three key sectors: retail, catering and creative.

City-REDI / Aston University

Timescales: 2019 - 2023



The main objective of the project is to use scientifically rigorous academic research, co-produced in collaboration with practitioners, to design and implement scalable policies to boost productivity by strengthening management practices in micro-businesses.

The project is producing important practical outcomes through the provision of evidence-based interventions in the form of customised programmes to upgrade leadership and management skills that lead to a boost in productivity for the businesses. It aims to actively support the development of a more responsive and inclusive business support ecosystem in the West-Midlands.

Reseach Team

  • Professor Monder Ram, Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME)
  • Dr Imelda McCarthy, Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME)

In collaboration with the Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) Aston Centre for Growth and Professor Anne Green from City-REDI.

Information for Policy Makers

The project involves researchers, specialists and civil society agencies sharing knowledge during the project, including about business support systems at a local and national level and their responsiveness to the needs of microbusinesses from diverse communities.

The project has also involved a customised programme of business support around productivity and performance, as well as guiding practitioners in wider business contexts.

Find out more about this project

For more details about reports and publications from the project, please visit: Addressing the productivity challenges of Microbusinesses in the West Midlands | Aston University