A pilot to encourage refugee entrepreneurs to establish businesses has been launched in East Anglia (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 MENTA, who provide training and advice to both established and new businesses across the East of England including, Peterborough, Ipswich and Norwich.
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 East Anglia.”
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.”
Serving the urban centres of Peterborough, Ipswich and Norwich MENTA will provide the participating refugees access to mentoring and peer-to-peer support groups which will be led by local models. This pilot will primarily target refugees who ran businesses in their home country, developing their expertise for the UK.
MENTA CEO Alex Till said:
“Here at MENTA we are dedicated to supporting and guiding businesses to realise their full potential.
“This is an exciting opportunity for us to help guide individuals for whom the practicalities of running a business in our country are unfamiliar.
“We are delighted to be part of this fantastic project, helping entrepreneurs that can enrich our business landscape and our communities with their skills and expertise.”
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 MENTA 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 the East of England is part of four programmes across the UK, with others based in Bristol, Belfast and Staffordshire.
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; £210,150 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.
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