Refugees in UK to be encouraged to launch businesses

Pilot programs designed to encourage refugees to start businesses have been launched across the UK.

The four pilots are part of a one-year programme jointly funded by the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund, which will be overseen by the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE).

They will be based in Bristol, Belfast, the East of England and Staffordshire.

Working directly with refugees and established local businesses, the pilots will deliver tailored start-up programmes that will take refugees from the idea stage through to the launch of their business.

“The UK has world leading resettlement programmes which provide sanctuary to thousands of the most vulnerable refugees every year,” said Home Secretary Priti Patel.

“It is vital that these refugees are given the best chance to flourish. This project will help them to build businesses and make a real success of their new lives in the UK.”

Offering a good geographical spread across the country, the four programmes have been selected because of their track record in delivering business start-up support.

The programmes will be overseen by CFE and a national expert advisory group including representatives from the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund, refugee entrepreneurs, and experts from the academic and voluntary sectors.

Social enterprise service ACH will engage with over 100 refugees in Bristol and the West of England. Building on a previous research project, ACH will support refugees new to entrepreneurship; business owners ‘just about managing’ and looking to strengthen their foundations; and ambitious entrepreneurs looking to scale up.

East Belfast Enterprise will offer those taking part access to professional development sessions, enterprise training, start-up bursaries and mentoring support. The pilot will provide support to develop networks within the community, so that even if self-employment is not for them people will have access to further education and other employment opportunities.

Serving the urban centres of Peterborough, Ipswich and Norwich, MENTA will provide the participating refugees access to workshops, mentoring and peer-to-peer support groups which will be led by local role models. This pilot will primarily target refugees who ran businesses in their home country, developing their expertise for the UK.

The Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce will provide comprehensive support for 40 refugees and will build on extensive experience in business support. Drawing on their networks, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce will also deliver mentoring support via volunteer entrepreneurs. They will also share the results of the project with the network of 52 accredited Chambers of Commerce across the country.

Refugees in the UK have access to mainstream benefits and services to enable their integration and departments across government are working to ensure services meet their needs. This new pilot will allow refugees to move forward with the process of integration, which was the focus of the government’s Integrated Communities Action plan published in February 2019.

The pilot will cost £360,300; £210,150 will be covered by the Home Office and the remaining £150,150 will be covered by The National Lottery Community fund. The Centre is working with academic partners to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the pilot so that, if successful, it can be implemented more widely in the future.

Article published 18th October 2019