Immigrant entrepreneurs found 14% of UK start-up businesses

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14% of start-up businesses in the UK were founded by immigrant entrepreneurs, according to a newly released report. The report says that there are 456,073 immigrant entrepreneurs working in the UK who have founded 464,527 businesses which employ 8.3m people.

The report calls on the government to 'fly the flag for Britain' by 'encouraging entrepreneurs from all corners of the world to settle and launch businesses in the UK'.

The Report; Migrant Entrepreneurs: Building Our Businesses, Creating Our Jobs, was prepared by the Centre for Entrepreneurs and DueDil, a company that provides online information on UK companies.

Immigrants more likely to start companies

It says that immigrants are more likely to start businesses than native Britons and are likely to do so at a younger age. 17.2% of non-UK nationals have started their own business as opposed to only 10.4% of Britons. They also do so at a younger age. They generally do so at the age of 44.3 years, whereas British entrepreneurs set up in business at the age of 52.1, on average.

Damian Kimmelman, the founder of DueDil, is an American-born immigrant himself. Writing in the online paper Huffpost, Mr Kimmelman said 'In my experience, this country is really welcoming to foreign entrepreneurs. I got my visa within two days, which would have been unthinkable in America.'

'Hostility' towards immigration a risk to UK economy

But the report is clearly concerned that the UK is less than welcoming to some migrant entrepreneurs. Luke Johnson, the chairman of the Centre for Entrepreneurs, wrote an introduction in which he warns of 'hostility' towards immigration.

He says 'The current tone of hostility towards immigration – even within mainstream political debate – could prove damaging for future job creation in the UK, especially in high-growth entrepreneurial sectors'.

The report's authors call on all UK political parties to reaffirm their commitment to the Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visa and the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa and urges them to 'make the intellectual case to the public as to why there should be no cap on entrepreneur visas'.

No cap on Tier 1 (Entrepreneur) visas

In fact there is no cap on entrepreneur visas at present though there is an annual cap of 2,000 on the number of graduate entrepreneur visas.

The report points out that recent opinion polls have shown that the UK public is less hostile towards foreign entrepreneurs than towards immigrants in general. It cites two recent polls which showed that, while 68% of those polled believed immigration should be reduced, 44% believe that foreign entrepreneurs 'make a positive contribution to the UK'.

The report says that 'Britain relies heavily on entrepreneurial migrants to launch businesses, create jobs and grow the economy'.

Entrepreneurs from 155 countries in UK

Entrepreneurial foreigners have come from 155 countries around the world to start UK businesses. Nearly 50,000 have come from the Republic of Ireland. There were also large numbers from India, Germany and the USA.

The top home-countries for foreign-born UK entrepreneurs were

  1. Ireland
  2. India
  3. Germany
  4. USA
  5. China
  6. Poland
  7. France
  8. Italy
  9. Pakistan
  10. Nigeria
  11. Australia
  12. Netherlands
  13. Norway

Most migrant businesses in London

Most migrant businesses are in London; 187,899 businesses, around 40% of the total. There are also many more in towns around London such as Harrow, Ilford, Twickenham and Kingston upon Thames. Once these are taken into account, Greater London is home to nearly half of all migrant business start-ups.

Other notable centres of immigrant enterprise are Birmingham, the UK's second largest city, Manchester and Reading as well as Cardiff, the capital of Wales and Belfast in Northern Ireland.

Foreign-born entrepreneurs operate in all sectors of the economy from hospitality to information technology. The highest number of migrant-founded companies can be found in the following sectors

  1. Construction 47,813
  2. Consumer goods and services35,491
  3. IT28,320
  4. Manufacturing and heavy industry23,359
  5. Management consultancy15,123
  6. Media and entertainment14,563

Valuable contribution to immigration debate

Sanwar Ali of said 'this report is a valuable contribution to the immigration debate in the UK. 8.3m people work for companies founded by immigrants in the UK. And that figure does not include the many companies which were founded by immigrants in generations past such as Marks & Spencer's, Cobra Beer and Tesco'.

'The figures speak for themselves; nearly half a million businesses in the UK were founded by foreigners. They are nearly twice as likely to found a business as Britons. If the government wants to get the economy going, it should not be making it harder for foreign-born entrepreneurs to set up in the UK'.

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