The Enterprise and Diversity Alliance has improved ethnic minority entrepreneurs' access to finance, markets and business support, providing a unique support network.
- Insights from Professor Monder Ram's research on supporting minority networks informed the development of the Enterprise and Diversity Alliance (EDA), the nationally acclaimed knowledge exchange network for ethnic minority entrepreneurs.
- Partnerships between EDA and banks including Barclays and NatWest have led hundreds of ethnic minority owned businesses to receive bespoke financial advice and mentoring. Between 2011 and 2016 the EDA ran 30 workshops for members on access to finance and markets.
- The British Bankers Association, in partnership with EDA, has worked in minority communities in Birmingham to promote the business support they offer and dispel the myth that bank finance is inaccessible to minority businesses.
- EDA and host centre CREME (the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship) have influenced policymakers through Local Enterprise Partnerships and increased the visibility of ethnic minority entrepreneurship nationally and internationally.
- EDA's recommendations on engaging with minority enterprise have been included in a range of reports, including:
- The Burt report: inclusive support for women in enterprise (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills; 2015)
- Business Schools: Delivering Value to Local and Regional Economies (Chartered Association of Business School; 2016)
- Inclusive Entrepreneurship (OECD/the Organisation for Economic and Cooperation and Development; 2014)
- Evaluation and Analysis of Good Practices in Promoting and Supporting Migrant Entrepreneurship (European Commission; 2016).
- Professor Ram initiated the annual Ethnic Minority Business conference in 1998, which is recognised internationally for networking and disseminating policy and research on ethnic minority firms.
"Professor Ram’s work on ethnic minority entrepreneurship and finance, backed by the ESRC, has influenced the banking industry in the UK and the way in which leading banks interact with their customers and key stakeholders." (Stephen Pegge, Group Competitive Markets and Business Policy Director, Lloyds Banking Group and former chair of British Bankers’ Association Small Firms Panel)
About the research
Ethnic minority businesses contribute an estimated £25-32 billion to the UK economy annually, but face challenges in accessing finance, markets and business support. The Enterprise and Diversity Alliance (EDA) has a simple ambition – to lift these barriers and make diversity and enterprise everyone’s business.
For EDA co-director Professor Monder Ram, it's an ambition with very personal roots. Professor Ram’s father came to the UK from India in the 1950s and, after years of difficulty and discrimination, managed to establish a profitable clothing business.
"What I learned is that minority enterprise is a game of winners and losers, and it's vital to understand the conditions and circumstances that generate both outcomes," Professor Ram points out. "Also, who you know matters. Minority entrepreneurs are often excluded from important networks – like banks, mentors, and gatekeepers to large organisations. This relegates their businesses to the margins."
Launched in 2010 with ESRC funding, EDA works to ensure that minority businesses can become mainstream enterprises through better access to money, markets and management skills. It is the only nationally-recognised resource promoting diversity and enterprise good practice.
Professor Ram and EDA co-director Professor Kiran Trehan have brought together a unique network of corporations, banks, professional associations and academics – with partners including the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, the British Bankers' Association, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission. The network provides practical support in areas such as access to finance, human resources, marketing and IT support, workshops and mentoring.
Recently, the Ethnic Minority Business Conference brought together the managing director of the British Banking Association and a newly arrived migrant from Somalia who was setting up a project for Somali women. "Without the EDA, their worlds would never collide," Professor Ram stresses. "Facilitating those meetings and the opportunities they open up is what the EDA is all about."