A pilot to encourage refugee entrepreneurs to establish businesses has been launched in Staffordshire today (17 October 2019).
The pilot is part of a one-year programme jointly funded by the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund, which will be overseen by the Centre for Entrepreneurs (CFE).
It will be delivered by the Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce, who deliver services to help businesses to start, grow and succeed in Staffordshire
Working directly with the refugees and established local businesses, the pilot will deliver tailored start-up programmes that will take refugees from idea stage to the launch of their business.
Home Secretary Priti Patel said:
“The UK has world leading resettlement programmes which provide sanctuary to thousands of the most vulnerable refugees every year
“It is vital that these refugees are given the best chance to flourish. This project will help them to build businesses and make a real success of their new lives in Staffordshire.”
Mark Purvis, Deputy Director England at The National Lottery Community Fund said:
“By putting people in the lead and championing entrepreneurship, this project, made possible by National Lottery players, will support refugees to fulfil their potential and thrive.”
The Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce will provide comprehensive support for 40 refugees and will build on extensive experience in business support. Drawing on their networks, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce will also deliver mentoring support via volunteer entrepreneurs. They will also share the results of the project with the network of 52 accredited Chambers of Commerce across the country.
Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce chief executive Sara Williams said:
“We are excited to support refugees from across Staffordshire with developing their ideas, entrepreneurial spirit and business techniques to start and develop a successful business, through our dedicated bespoke support programme.
“The support and funding from the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund, together with the support from CFE has helped to make our project a reality and will have a big impact on refugees across our county.”
Centre for Entrepreneurs chairman Oliver Pawle said:
“We are grateful for support from the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund in helping us realise the vision we set out in our report last year.
“The Centre for Entrepreneurs is excited to work with the Chambers over the coming year to help refugees into entrepreneurship and to prove that tailored business support strengthens integration.”
The programme will be overseen by CFE and a national expert advisory group including representatives from the Home Office and The National Lottery Community Fund, refugee entrepreneurs, and experts from the academic and voluntary sectors.
The pilot in Staffordshire is part of four programmes across the UK, with others based in Bristol, East of England and Belfast.
Refugees in the UK have access to mainstream benefits and services to enable their integration and departments across Government are working to ensure services meet their needs. This new pilot will allow refugees to move forward with the process of integration, which was the focus of the Government’s Integrated Communities Action plan published in February 2019. In the action plan the Government committed to increase integration support for all refugees in the UK, with one of the key focuses being employment.
As part of that commitment, the Home Office, in partnership with UNHCR, the International Organisation for Migration, Business in the Community and the Department for Work and Pensions recently launched ‘Tapping Potential’ – guidelines for British businesses on employing refugees. The Government is also committed to continuing support for the Refugee Employment Network, whose vision is to enable every refugee in the UK to gain appropriate, fulfilling, paid employment or self-employment.
The pilot will cost £360,300; £210,000 will be covered by the Home Office and the remaining £150,150 will be covered by The National Lottery Community fund. The Centre is working with academic partners to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the pilot so that, if successful, it can be implemented more widely in the future.