Migrant Women in Business – A Focus on West Yorkshire


The importance of migrant businesses to the UK economy cannot be overlooked. Immigrants present with high entrepreneurial potential and are more likely to start a business compared to the life-long resident population. Yet, migrant businesses have higher rates of closure, and aspiring migrant entrepreneurs struggle to enter mainstream business support, with migrant women noted to be particularly disadvantaged.

Migrant women entrepreneurs face many barriers ranging from unawareness about eligibility, to lack of childcare, low levels of confidence, language barriers and others. Such obstacles have been shown to deter a large majority of migrants from starting a business or self-employment route, thus, undermining their potential valuable contribution to the UK’s socio-economic structures.

Research overview

In this project, we focus on migrant women given the under-representation of women start-ups generally. Only 1 in 3 UK entrepreneurs is female due to several challenges and these can be exacerbated by the migration experience.

We aim to harness the socio-economic potential of migrant women entrepreneurs by providing pre-start-up support which prepares them for mainstream provision. We will work on building bridges between those entrepreneurs, the business support agencies as well as financial institutions. As a result, we hope to enhance migrant women’s opportunities for creating financially sustainable enterprises. Our research will also provide recommendations on how to design more inclusive business provisions in West Yorkshire and beyond.

Ewa Lelontko and Deema Refai

Ewa Lelontko and Deema Refai

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This project is funded by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority through the Enterprise West Yorkshire Development Fund.

Publications and outputs