The distinctive contribution of minority firms to the UK Economy

| November 19, 2014
Dr Christopher A Johnson

Dr Christopher A Johnson

Business news. In the last edition we examined the significance of ‘ethnic monitoring’ as a strategic tool for the equitable allocation and/or distribution of resources across the cultural divide. Over 40 years, Britain’s ethnic communities have been researched (exhaustively) with principal issues of ethnicity and immigration dominating the media. Yet, apart from several focused studies, little public attention has been paid to the distinctive contribution of minorities to the UK economy. And whilst the recession has impacted on business closures, minority firms have managed to survive and in the process, introduce various products and services to the marketplace.

As is the case, owners are still struggling in many respects with market discrimination, societal prejudices, and inequalities in procurement and negative stereotyping, all of which tend to restrict mainstream lending practices. Challenges aside, since the 1880s, sections of the British minority population have established commercial firms and social enterprises in essential sectors. These include construction, creative industries, education and training, food and hospitality, manufacturing, engineering, transport logistics and social enterprise among others. Government estimates (2013) suggested that minority firms alone, contributed over  £35 billion to the economy.  Other statistics from authoritative sources including the UK Government and the Institute of Economic Affairs highlighted the following trends:-

  •  70,000 social charities in the UK contribute £18.5 billion to the UK.
  •  Almost 1 million persons are involved in this sector.
  • 15% or 10,500 of these firms are led by minority ethnic communities.
  • Minorities therefore have a market share of nearly £3 billion to the social economy.
  • Official figures suggest that over 6.4% or 300,000 minorities are self-employed.

The ‘proof of the pudding is in the eating’; in that wherever one travels, whether it is to inner cities and suburban areas, these locations are replete with minority ethnic-owned business and professional services. Demographic trends also point to the rootedness of ethnic entrepreneurship in the nine English Regions.  In Scotland, Wales and Ireland, there are growth spurts among ethnic entrepreneurs as they compete in the marketplace of ideas, goods and services. It is ‘high’ time for Establishment figures to take notice of this real economic dividend and celebrate it on a national scale.

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