UK aims to encourage refugee entrepreneur programmes

A pilot to encourage refugee entrepreneur programmes across the UK has been announced by the Home Office.

The one-year pilot, jointly funded by the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund, will identify established local business support organisations to deliver tailored start-up entrepreneur programmes that will take refugees from idea stage to business launch.

“The UK has a proud history of providing protection to those that need it and we are committed to making sure that refugees can successfully integrate to life in the UK,” said Caroline Nokes, the UK Immigration minister.

“This exciting new programme gives refugees the opportunity to build businesses, leading to further independence as they rebuild their lives in the UK. We will continue to collaborate with civil society and businesses to ensure that we deliver the best possible support to those who choose to make this country their home.”

The pilot will be launched at an event in London on Monday 22nd July. The one-day summit will convene business support organisations to explore the entrepreneurial potential of refugees. Organisations will share insight from refugee-focused development programmes, carried out in the UK and overseas, which provide training and mentoring space to help grow the business.

The new start-up training model follows last year’s Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE) publication of ‘Starting afresh: How entrepreneurship is transforming the lives of resettled refugees.’ The CFE report detailed the level of experience and interest in entrepreneurship among refugees and highlighted the profound role self-employment can play in helping refugees retake control of their lives.

The report called on the business community, philanthropists and the government to work together to roll out refugee entrepreneur programmes nationwide – a model that has been adopted in over 130 cities around the world in recent years. The report also puts forward a compelling case about why refugees make great entrepreneurs, how they can contribute to the UK as business-creators, and how guiding them towards entrepreneurship can reduce public spending and strengthen social integration.

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

It is hoped that 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.

Article published 23rd July 2019