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Business representatives, academics, industry leaders, community groups and entrepreneurs gathered at Parliament Buildings Stormont to hear current progress on advancing the UK’s diverse business communities and secure a commitment to drive forward the agenda for inclusive entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland.

The event builds on findings from the Time to Change report, a collaboration between CREME and NatWest, which sets out a blueprint for advancing the growth potential of Ethnic Minority businesses (EMBs) in the UK through ten evidence-based, actionable recommendations. Experts suggest that, with the right action, implementing the recommendations could help address the many challenges faced by EMBs, and increase their GVA contribution from £25 billion a year to £100 billion, highlighting the significant potential of EMBs to the UK economy.

While the promotion of entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland is a key economic driver and contributes to social inclusion, evidence indicates that entrepreneurial potential of ethnic minority and migrant businesses remains largely untapped and underdeveloped in the region.

At the event, Economy Minister Conor Murphy expressed his support for developing solutions that unlock the potential that exists within all our entrepreneurs.  He said:

“I’m keen to refocus economic policy to better support domestic start-ups and SMEs that want to grow. That means improving support for all entrepreneurs, but particularly for people who face additional barriers.  Such barriers for ethnic minority people and migrants include discrimination, lack of access to capital and networks, a lack of confidence, and language barriers.

“It is important to remove these obstacles given the opportunities for business growth created by the Windsor Framework.  Dual market access gives us a unique basis for building our exports and it is important that all entrepreneurs are able to take advantage of this status.”

Steve Pollard, Lecturer in Management Development, Ulster University Business School, said:

“Northern Ireland has seen significant growth in its ethnic minority and migrant population. There is strong evidence that this presents a significant opportunity for Northern Ireland to benefit from the significant contribution this population can make to our economic growth. A more inclusive approach to enterprise policy and practice can also make a valuable contribution to wider efforts to promote social cohesion. In the past, perhaps because of the relatively small population numbers, there has been a lack of policy focus. We are now presented with an opportunity to ‘get this right.’ The Time to Change report helps us to build on previous work by Ulster University and key stakeholders. Crucially it provides us with a framework for implementation.”

Professor Laura Bradley McCauley , Ulster University Business School added:

“This event builds on the wider work by Ulster University Business School on supporting, informing and nurturing inclusive entrepreneurship. Indeed, researchers at the business school are working on a number of projects funded by the North South Research Programme namely Atlantic Futures and Social Entrepreneurship with research collaborations examining other aspects of minority entrepreneurship across female, traveller and disabled entrepreneurs to name but a few.”

Among those who addressed delegates were Professor Monder Ram, Director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship, Aston Business School and John Ferris, Regional Ecosystem Manager, Ulster Bank.

Professor Monder Ram, Director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship, Aston Business School, said:

“My colleagues and I at the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CRÈME), Aston University, are delighted to be collaborating with Ulster University Business School (UUBS) and other partners to develop a dynamic and inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in in Northern Ireland. We look forward to collaborating on how we implement the recommendations of CRÈME’s landmark ‘Time to Change’ report on developing a new strategy to support Black and ethnic minority entrepreneurs. Our partnership will work towards unlocking the potential of this dynamic part of the UK economy”.

Steve Lazars, Founder & Director, Ethnic Minority Employment and Entrepreneurship Network (EMEEN), said:

"Establishing conditions that foster engagement between the enterprise ecosystem and ethnic minority businesses is paramount for Northern Ireland's social and economic stability. With the ethnic minority population steadily growing, implementing policies and providing relevant business support are pivotal. Ulster University Business School has been a vital partner in advancing this dialogue, and EMEEN will look forward to continuing this relationship. We at EMEEN thrilled to be a part of this event, aiming to identify opportunities and advocate for policies and support from the highest authorities in NI."

Further information

In 2023, Ulster University Business School in partnership with the Ethnic Minority Employment & Entrepreneurship Network, released the first positioning report on ethnic minority and migrant entrepreneurship in Northern Ireland. The report provided insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by local ethnic minority and migrant entrepreneurs.

For further information contact Steve Pollard, Lecturer in Management Development, at