Migrants behind one in seven UK companies

Migrant entrepreneurs are behind one in seven of all UK companies, authoritative research from the Centre for Entrepreneurs and DueDil has found.

According to a major new report launched today, nearing half a million people from 155 countries have settled in the UK and launched businesses. Among the vital SME segment, migrant-founded companies are responsible for creating 14 per cent of all jobs.

Entrepreneurial activity amongst the migrant community was found to be nearly double that of UK-born individuals, with 17.2 per cent having launched their own businesses, compared to 10.4 per cent of those born here. They are also, on average, eight years younger than indigenous entrepreneurs at 44.3 years-old compared to 52.1.

This is despite the extra challenges they face including access to finance and cultural and language barriers.

Entitled ‘Migrant entrepreneurs: Building our businesses, creating our jobs’, the Centre for Entrepreneurs think tank and financial technology company, DueDil, have sought to explore a neglected aspect of the immigration debate: the contribution of migrant entrepreneurs to the UK economy.

DueDil founder and CEO Damian Kimmelman, himself an American serial “migrant entrepreneur”, said: “Immigration is one of Britain’s most emotive topics for debate. Sadly, opinions are rarely informed by evidence.  This game-changing research proves that migrant entrepreneurs are hyper-productive, net contributors to the UK economy. History tells us that the most productive states always encourage intellectual and technological ferment; that’s what we’re seeing in Britain right now, and we must celebrate it“.

Centre for Entrepreneurs chairman and serial entrepreneur Luke Johnson said: “The majority of the public appreciate the value of migrant entrepreneurs, yet our politicians and media send out negative signals that risk alienating this vital group of job creators. Given the huge contribution of migrant entrepreneurs, we are calling upon the media and politicians to join us in celebrating those who come to our country and launch businesses.

The UK’s migrant entrepreneurs are from virtually every country, although there are significant representations from Ireland, India, the US, Germany and China. London benefits disproportionately, with 20 times the number of migrant-led businesses (188,000) than Birmingham, the second most popular location with 19,000.

YouGov polling undertaken for the report reveals that a significant proportion of the general public believe migrant entrepreneurs make a positive contribution to the UK (44 per cent) and a majority support the government’s efforts to attract new migrant entrepreneurs (50 per cent). This is despite the fact the public view immigration in a generally negative light and support a reduction in net immigration (68 per cent).

The Centre also commissioned the Centre for Research on Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME) at the University of Birmingham to investigate the social contribution made by migrant entrepreneurs. Their research found new migrant businesses providing buffers against unemployment and economic exclusion. They also act as vehicles for social integration, and for enabling ambitious workers to develop entrepreneurial skills and experience. The report also illustrated that the success of migrant businesses often defies significant personal and professional obstacles.

Matt Smith, Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurs, said: “The contribution of migrant entrepreneurs is, to be frank, breath-taking. Presented with such irrefutable evidence, it is now the responsibility of politicians of all parties to celebrate migrant entrepreneurs’ contributions and restate their commitment to maintaining pro-entrepreneurship immigration policies”.

Download ‘Migrant entrepreneurs: building our businesses, creating our jobs‘ and the full data on creatingourjobs.org.