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More support demanded

Immigrant business owners ‘get only limited advice’

Andrew McRaeSmall business leaders are demanding more support for immigrant business owners after new research found they get little help from Scotland’s public advisory network.

The Hunter Centre at the University of Strathclyde found that about half (47%) of the 222,520 people starting a business in 2017 had moved to or around Scotland. One in ten are from outside the country.

Now the Federation of Small Businesses is calling for new specialist support for this group who contribute more than £13 billion to the Scottish economy and provide 107,000 jobs.

The report, Starting Over: Migrant Entrepreneurship in Scotland, found that all migrants are more likely to start a business. People who moved to Scotland but were born elsewhere in the UK are 67% more likely to start a business than native Scots.

Around half of Scotland’s immigrant entrepreneurs are located in Edinburgh, Glasgow or Aberdeen, but the report highlights that immigrants in rural Scotland are more likely to be self-employed or run their own business.

Launching the report, Andrew McRae, pictured, FSB’s Scotland policy chairman, said: “This research shows that Scotland is home to entrepreneurs from all corners of the world and these people are making a huge contribution to Scotland’s economy.

“No matter whether they’re from England, Estonia or Ethiopia, what’s clear is that when someone moves to a new place they bring new perspectives and business ideas. Scotland needs more of this sort of insight and drive. 

“Policymakers need to make sure that we give all start-ups the best chance to succeed. But this research found particularly poor links between immigrant entrepreneurs and the public bodies charged with giving them a hand. This is a problem which needs addressed.”

Dr Samuel Mwaura, corresponding author of the report at the Hunter Centre, said: “This is the first piece of research looking specifically at the contributions migration and entrepreneurship make to Scotland. 

“The overall picture that emerges is that migration … is associated with skilled, ambitious individuals with higher than average levels of entrepreneurialism.” 

The study finds that migrants are more likely to have postgraduate qualifications, family business experience, export ambitions and higher growth ambitions. Further, the research underlined that Scotland has the highest proportion of university-educated migrants in the EU.

Migration Minister Ben Macpherson said the figures “underline the importance of freedom of movement and wider migration to Scotland’s workforce, business community and economy.”

He added: “The Scottish Government is working with the Scottish business community to help EU citizens to stay as part of our ‘Stay in Scotland’ campaign.

“These statistics also highlight the damage that the UK Government’s new immigration proposals would have on small businesses across Scotland.”

Mr Macpherson did not respond to the FSB’s call for the enterprise bodies to offer more support for incomers.

Shadow Scottish Secretary, Lesley Laird, joined Mr Macpherson in focusing criticism on the UK government’s immigration policies and also said nothing about the FSB’s demands.

She said: “Migrants are our friends, our family and our neighbours. They are integral parts of our communities and we must be unequivocal in our praise for the contribution they have made to Scotland.

“It is regrettable that the UK Government’s current immigration proposals do not reflect the value that migrants make to our communities and our economy. A UK Labour Government will ensure that migrants are welcome, valued and treated the way that they deserve – with respect.”

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