Business management

Helping the UK’s ethnic minority businesses reach full potential

A recent report published by Aston University recommends 10 actions for helping the nation’s EMBs access finance and grow.

A staggering £100bn – that’s the value that EMBs could make to the UK economy with the right support, according to research by the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME), supported by NatWest Group. 

Currently EMBs contribute £25bn to the UK economy per year, and the authors of our new report ‘Time to Change: a Blueprint for Advancing the UK’s Ethnic Minority Businesses’ examine some of the barriers that EMBs experience in seeking to grow. These include barriers to finance, both perceived and actual and high levels of discouragement from potential investors, resulting in fewer requests for finance among EMBs than other SMEs.

The report suggests that implementing the recommendations it outlines will enable more EMBs to grow in line with the wider business population.

Ten steps to transform support for EMBs

  1. Tackle perceptions of unequal treatment to increase EMBs’ engagement with bank finance.
  2. Monitor engagement with diverse suppliers to facilitate EMBs’ access to procurement opportunities.
  3. Develop more sustainable and quality business support to help EMBs realise their growth potential. 
  4. Improve access to business support by establishing trust-based relationships with ethnic minority communities.
  5. Foster local networks of support through partnership working to strengthen support for EMBs.
  6. Include EMB communities in the policy formulation process to enhance the relevance of support.
  7. Create local community hubs to better engage with EMBs and ease their access to finance and business support.
  8. Develop a UK-wide policy on inclusive entrepreneurship to set out a clear vision for achieving inclusive growth.
  9. Create a UK-wide mechanism for promoting and supporting EMBs to provide long-term leadership on this agenda.
  10. Gather better data on entrepreneurial diversity to foster evidence-based policymaking.

Andrew Harrison, Head of Business Banking at NatWest Group, says: "As the UK’s biggest bank for business, we’re committed to championing small businesses and supporting growth but we know that there are barriers which disproportionately affect EMBs. This is why we aim for at least 20% of the places on our 14 nationwide accelerator hubs to be for ethnic minority entrepreneurs. In 2021, 26% of businesses in our hubs were EMBs.

"Only close collaboration can deliver meaningful change to ensure EMBs get the support they need to reach their full potential. Now is the time to accelerate action, and at NatWest Group we commit to playing an integral role in the change that is required."

Professor Monder Ram OBE, director of CREME at Aston Business School, adds: “The entrepreneurial ambition of ethnic minorities can play a crucial role in the UK government’s vision of ‘levelling up’ prosperity across regions, promoting trade opportunities of ‘global Britain’ and creating a more cohesive society.”

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