University of Bristol: Project provide entrepreneurship and business support to non-EU migrants

Refugees, migrants and newly arrived communities have long been at the forefront of new enterprise but often left behind when it comes to support. However, that is all about to change through a major new project led by ACH and with partners from Bristol’s School for Policy Studies and the West of England Combined Authority.

Winning approximately £1 million worth of funding, ACH is now able to implement the Effective Digital Entrepreneurship & Business Support (EDEBS) project. A grand project backing the economic integration needs of non-EU migrants and refugees in the West of England and West Midlands.

EDEBS is a 2-year project starting in January 2021, aiming to reinforce the launch, stabilisation and growth of non-EU migrants’ businesses through personalised business support.

The project will be delivered by ACH – a leading social enterprise specialising in migrant and refugee integration and employment services alongside their key partners from the School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol (PI Ann Singleton) and the West of England Combined Authority, through its Growth Hub. The project aims to assist 500 existing businesses or pre-start entrepreneurs, creating economic growth and new job opportunities in the regions.

The delivery model will implement ACH’s innovative and system changing entrepreneurship support model, driving entrepreneurship through community-based business assistance and facilitating integration at the same time.

Ann Singleton (University of Bristol PI) said: “I am delighted to be working with ACH on this very timely project which complements the ongoing ‘Everyday Integration’ activities and engagement between the University of Bristol, School for Policy Studies, the Migration Mobilities Bristol Specialist Research Institute, Bristol City Council and community partners in the city.”

Regional Mayor Tim Bowles said: “This project builds on ACH’s brilliant pilot Refugee Entrepreneurship Project and the work that the West of England Combined Authority has carried out in partnership with ACH to support entrepreneurship in refugee and migrant communities.

Our regional recovery plan looks at how we can create opportunities for all our residents and build an inclusive economy where everyone has the opportunity to achieve their potential and secure good, well-paid jobs.

Working with ACH, we have a great track record helping refugee and migrant entrepreneurs get the skills and support they need to grow their businesses, and this takes that to the next level.”

The project delivery plan has a strong foundation built on previous experience such as, the Refugee Entrepreneurship Project which allowed an interaction and understanding of non- EU migrants needs when it comes to the accessibility, barriers and needs of business support services.

This project is part funded by the European Union Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. Making management of migration flows more efficient across the European Union.

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said: “As the Mayor of Bristol, I have always been clear that migrants and refugees are enormous asset to our city, so I’m delighted that ACH has secured this funding which will further unlock the contributions that newcomers can make. We have been proud to support ACH on the journey as they have developed their approach, and we look forward to continuing to work with them on this and many other projects.”

ACH believes in diversity and actively innovates and empowers integration. The initiative behind this new project stems from the recognition of the potential and the current economic contribution non-EU migrants bring to UK society. It focuses on economic growth through integration, and mirrors social diversity through adjusted business support services to fit the journey and needs of diverse entrepreneurs.

ACH CEO Fuad Mahamed said: “I am very pleased we have won this significant funding to enable us and our partners to work with hundreds of migrant and refugee businesses and start-ups in West of England and West Midlands.

I am aware of how much business support engrained within the community is vital for the recovery of our economy. I hope we turn the corner and help businesses flourish with this funding combined with the local recovery strategies, government initiatives and funding.

This is what this funding is all about- giving a chance to marginalised people to thrive and not just survive. I thank the Home Office, our colleagues at University of Bristol and WECA. I look forward to working with all relevant partners for the next 2 years.”

The EDEBS project will connect elements such as promoting entrepreneurialism within communities, developing a connection and trust with the business support infrastructure and providing 1:1 community-sensitive coaching. The project will forge a network of volunteer mentors in the business sector, create a digital platform for learning & training resources, critically engage with the issue of forced entrepreneurship and deliver a series of inspirational business talks.

The project will utilise a unique integration assessment toolkit which measures integration and rates of change, for a quantitative assessment, alongside academic project analysis to explore the link between integration and business success.

The awarded grant is part funded by the European Union Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund. Making management of migration flows more efficient across the European Union. The above text reflects ACH’s views only and not those of the European Commission or the UKRA. In addition, neither the European Commission nor the UKRA is liable for any use that may be made of the information contained above.