Untapped potential: The challenge and opportunity of migrant entrepreneurship

by Monder Ram

Migrant entrepreneurship is a notable feature of economies across Europe. Self-employment often provides migrants – and established ethnic minority communities – with a job, a mechanism for survival in a context of racial inequality, and for some, a path to social mobility. There are some spectacular successes: a recent study by the Centre of Entrepreneurs (PDF) looked at immigrant entrepreneurs in the ‘heartland SME segment of the economy’ (companies with a turnover between £1 million and £200 million) and found that foreign-born owners were: responsible for one in seven businesses in the UK; almost twice as entrepreneurial as UK-born individuals; and on average, eight years younger than the typical UK-born entrepreneur.

But my colleagues and I at the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME) usually focus on the smaller, more mundane – and perhaps more representative – entrepreneurial activities of migrants.

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