05 March 2014

Migrants behind one in seven British businesses

Britain relies heavily on entrepreneurial migrants to launch businesses, create jobs and grow the economy according to new research.

One in seven companies in the UK have been started by migrant entrepreneurs, according to a new report.

Almost 500,000 people hailing from 155 different nations have launched businesses here in Britain, research from the Centre for Entrepreneurs and DueDil has found. And today there are a total of 456,073 currently running businesses, with some taking the helm of more than one venture.

Most foreign entrepreneurs in the UK come from Ireland with 48,854 Irish businesspeople starting up companies. The second most common country is India with 32,593 entrepreneurs, followed by Germany with 30,755. 

There is also a high number of businesses founded by people from the USA and China.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the statistics show that most of the businesses started by entrepreneurs born overseas are based in London. The capital is home to 188,000 migrant-led firms, which is 20 times more than the next most popular location – Birmingham.

Immigrants ‘more likely to be entrepreneurs’

And figures from the Office for National Statistics suggest that people who migrate to the UK are more likely to start businesses than those who were born here. The statistics show 17.2% of migrants to the UK start businesses compared to 10.4% of British-born people.

There is also a difference in the average age that entrepreneurs create their enterprises with migrants starting companies at an average age of 44, compared to Brits who typically wait until the age of 52.

The report also showed that 14% of all jobs in SMEs were at companies founded by migrants. 

Matt Smith, Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurs, says:

The contribution of migrant entrepreneurs is, to be frank, breathtaking. It is now the responsibility of politicians of all parties to celebrate migrant entrepreneurs’ contributions and restate their commitment to maintaining pro-entrepreneurship immigration policies.

Luke Johnson, Chairman of the Centre for Entrepreneurs, adds: “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. Instead, we should appreciate that migrant entrepreneurs have overcome significant challenges to develop enterprises in the UK. In many respects, the odds have been stacked against them. Yet they still thrive and triumph.” 

For more information, download the full report 'Migrant entrepreneurs: building our businesses, creating our jobs'.