Professor Ram, who heads the Minority Ethnic Enterprise Centre of Expertise (MEECOE), an initiative funded by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands, was speaking at the launch of a year-long project aimed at researching the challenges and opportunities of working with new migrant businesses in the West Midlands.
Addressing delegates from business and voluntary organisations, support groups, academia and representatives of migrant communities, Professor Ram said: “We are kick-starting a project that will underline the dynamics of new migrant business owners, many of whom will be key players in Britain’s new era of super-diversity.”
The purpose of the study is to find out who sets up new businesses – and why – and in which sectors of the economy they are established. “We also want to discover how many new jobs are being created and to learn more about the factors which promote or hinder business formation,” said Professor Ram. “Answering such questions is of major importance in terms of policy making. For example, knowing how many businesses there are and where they are concentrated will help business support agencies to target their assistance. A better picture will also throw light on wider debates on this new migration – for example, the more substantial business formation is, the more positive the long-term benefits are.”
Professor Ram said that initially, interviews would be conducted amongst organisations that had links with the new migrant communities before his team went on to undertake research amongst about 100 new migrant business-owners.
New migrants are regarded as those from African nations such as Somalia, Ghana, Rwanda, Nigeria and Zimbabwe and the eight new European Union countries, including Poland and Latvia.
The study is part of MEECOE’s brief to develop an authoritative assessment of ethnic minority enterprise in the region, working in conjunction with AWM and key stakeholders, such as the West Midlands Minority Ethnic Business Forum and Business Link.
MEECOE is a consortium led by the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship at De Montfort University, Leicester, where Professor Ram is Professor of Small Business.
The workshop was held at the BVSC Conference Centre, Digbeth, Birmingham.