UK: Migrant Entrepreneurs: Creating Our Jobs

Last Updated: 28 November 2014
Article by Smith & Williamson

Matt Smith, director at the Centre for Entrepreneurs, explores the contribution of migrant entrepreneurs to the UK economy.

Immigration remains a highly charged topic of debate among the British public and it shows no signs of abating. According to Ipsos Mori it has risen from the fourth most important issue for voters in 2010, to the second most important today.

The debate reached fever pitch in the run-up to the New Year when restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians living in the UK were lifted – an event that proved highly anti-climatic for those predicting an influx on New Years Day. It then dominated the local and European elections in May this year.

Throughout the whole debate one crucial element was consistently overlooked by all sides – job creation by entrepreneurial migrants. All debate seemed to rest on whether immigrants were 'taking our jobs'. As with so many other elements affecting the immigration debate, there simply wasn't any research to show migrants' entrepreneurial contribution.

Entrepreneurial talent from across the world

In March, the Centre for Entrepreneurs, in partnership with fintech startup DueDil, released a never-before-seen comprehensive, nationwide analysis of the scale of migrant entrepreneurship in the UK. The results were breathtaking. The UK is a melting pot for entrepreneurial talent from across the world. Nearing half a million migrant entrepreneurs representing 155 nationalities, have founded businesses in the UK. Their impact is so extensive that one in seven of all UK companies has a migrant founder or co-founder. Examining those with £1m-200m turnover revealed that migrant-founded companies have created over 1.16m jobs – representing 14% of all jobs in this segment of the economy.

Alongside these astounding findings, the public was also asked their opinion on migrant entrepreneurs versus immigrants at large – an exercise no political party has ever undertaken. Findings revealed that a significant proportion of the public believe migrant entrepreneurs make a positive contribution to the UK and a majority support the Government's efforts to attract new migrant entrepreneurs. This is despite the fact that the public view immigration in a generally negative light and support a reduction in net immigration.

Time to celebrate

The report, 'Migrant entrepreneurs: building our businesses, creating our jobs' called on politicians of all parties to celebrate the contribution of migrant entrepreneurs, reaffirm their commitment to pro-entrepreneur immigration policies and engage the public in a nuanced immigration debate beyond a binary viewpoint.

Spreading the word

Since the report's launch, other think tanks and business groups have lined up to complement and extend this message. Policy Exchange's Tech Manifesto, Coadec's Startup Manifesto and techUK's Manifesto for Jobs and Growth, all reinforce the need for politicians to deliver entrepreneur-friendly immigration policies. Individuals like Coadec's Guy Levin and Tech London Advocates' Russ Shaw have also made thoughtful contributions on how politicians must win the hearts and minds of the public on the positive impact of immigration.

The business community is aligned in celebrating the contribution of migrant entrepreneurs and efforts should continue jointly to make the case to politicians and the public.

We have taken great care to ensure the accuracy of this newsletter. However, the newsletter is written in general terms and you are strongly recommended to seek specific advice before taking any action based on the information it contains. No responsibility can be taken for any loss arising from action taken or refrained from on the basis of this publication. © Smith & Williamson Holdings Limited 2014. code 14/1018 exp: 31/03/15

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