The driving force behind every thriving economy has always been the entrepreneur. The ability to identify demand, provide supply and expand is central to the way in which countries and communities grow. Innovative industry improves employment levels, labour skill sets and tax revenues which is why it is so often applauded by both politicians and public alike. However, when we compare the positive inclination we have towards entrepreneurship, the same cannot always be said with regards to immigration. Immigration has become an increasingly charged topic of public opinion with at best sceptical and at worst negative view becoming the common belief theme. The Centre for Entrepreneurs has recently released a report in an attempt to challenge some of the negative conceptions of immigration as damaging by looking at the effect and prevalence of migrant entrepreneurs and the benefits they bring to the UK economy.
The sheer number of migrant entrepreneurs in the UK says a lot about the economic activity created by their presence, 1 in 7 UK companies have been founded by migrants. There are 456,073 migrant entrepreneurs currently in the UK. They have founded over 464,527 companies based in the UK. The authors of the report define a migrant entrepreneur as having to invest a minimum £50,000 and employ at least two people. The gains to the country are impressive on those figures alone, however the deeper benefits are even more impressive.
Nudge Factory client Atul Pathak, owner of over 20 McDonalds franchises, was the focus of a case study within the CFE report and the community benefits created by such strong ethics regarding business practices shows the importance of migrant entrepreneurs. Despite a turnover of over £35 million and 1,600 employees, Atul’s proudest contribution to the UK is the training and development of the staff he has worked with. Having started at the bottom himself, Atul believes in the development of those who work in the company and offers several nationally recognised qualifications up to A-level equivalence. The focus on the development of his staff and his extensive work in the community he says stems from the wish to give back to the country that has provided him with the opportunity to succeed that others did not.
Atul is just one of the 32,593 migrant entrepreneurs from India. By providing a supportive foundation the UK has benefitted immensely and this is the point that the CFE makes; that with a general, untargeted attack on immigration, a significant portion of UK entrepreneurship may be affected. A strong recommendation of the CFE report is that entrepreneur and graduate entrepreneur visas should not be capped. It is here that we find the major benefits that immigration affords us and the public perception that immigration overall is damaging does not take this more nuanced view into account. Instead the CFE believes that we must extol the virtues of migrant entrepreneurship and its impact on the UK economy: providing jobs, growth and increased social mobility; because if we do not, it may stop bearing fruit.