In a drive to encourage greater entrepreneurship within ethnic minority communities, a national event will explore ways of supporting more people to set up and succeed in their own businesses.
Jointly organised by the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (Inclusion) and the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG) this one day conference on‘Boosting ethnicminority entrepreneurship’ will take place at Amnesty International in London on Tuesday 21 October 2014. ‘Boosting ethnic minority entrepreneurship’ will bring together individuals and organisations supporting entrepreneurship to explore ways of spreading best practice and identifynew approaches to stimulate sustainable entrepreneurship within ethnic minority communities in disadvantaged urban areas.
Entrepreneurship in the UK has grown significantly in the years since the financial crisis. In 2014, almost 15 per cent of adults in employment are self-employed, up from around 13 per cent in 2008. Aspirations for self-employment are very high. According to the Prince’s Trust, almost one third of all young people believe they will be self-employed in the future. Research published by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills shows that ethnic minority people have particularly high aspirations to become self-employed.
But the reality does not always match the aspiration. Self-employment rates are lower than average for some ethnic minority groups, including Black African and Black Caribbean communities. Ethnic minority groups with high self-employment rates areoften working inextremely low pay sectors. Pakistani men have the highest self-employment rate of all, at 30 per cent, with many working as mini cab drivers.
Self-employed earnings have stagnated since 2008. Data from HMRC show that in 2011, of 5,110,000 people who declared self-employed earnings, over 65 per cent earned less than £10,000 a year.
There is huge potential for increased entrepreneurship within ethnic minority communities. We know that ethnic minorities have:
- Highaspirations for entrepreneurship;
- A talent pool of former public sector workers;
- High numbers of graduates who are struggling to find employment;
- Strong global links based on family connections.
But we also know that historically, ethnic minority communities have been under-served by publicly funded business support programmes and that ethnic minority entrepreneurs continue to experience difficulties in accessing finance for business start-up and business growth. With the demise of Business Link in 2010, much government support for entrepreneurship has been cut. Figures for the government’s current self-employment support programme, the New Enterprise Allowance, show that ethnic minority people are under-represented on the programme. From this year, billions of pounds of government funding to stimulate local economic growth and support social inclusion will be channelled through the Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) but it is not yet clear how this money will be spent and whether support for entrepreneurship will be a priority for LEPs.
Increasing entrepreneurship is one way to tackle the unemployment and poverty experienced by Britain’s ethnic minority communities. We need new ideas, policies, and programmes to stimulate this. All agencies with an interest in encouraging entrepreneurship, tackling poverty and addressing ethnic inequalities should be part of this debate.
OBE, Director of BTEG and Chair of Business, Innovations and Skills External Equalities Advisory Group says:‘Ethnic minorities are a significant population in most towns and cities across the UK and have high ambitions for enterprise and entrepreneurship. Channelling these ambitions into successful business start-ups will help to overcome the poverty and disadvantage which still characterise many of Britain’s urban areas. As a country we need to focus on nurturing the entrepreneurial talent in these communities. LEPs should be working with local communities and drawing on the expertise in local authorities, colleges and universities to foster a more dynamic and sustainable entrepreneurship culture.’