A new report from the Centre for Entrepreneurs has today highlighted the growing importance of migrant entrepreneurs to the UK economy, showing that no less than one in seven UK businesses is started by foreign migrants. Handily straddling two topics very much in the limelight at the moment – immigration and entrepreneurship – the report aims to “address the current deficit in our understanding of this important issue [and] celebrate the contribution of migrant entrepreneurs to the UK” in the run-up to the European Parliamentary Elections.

The report has found that immigrants are twice as entrepreneurial as those born in the UK. Currently around 13.7% of native Britons run their own business, compared to 14.7% of Polish immigrants in the UK and 16.8% of those from the Middle East and Asia. Those hailing from “other EU” countries are by far the most likely to run their own business, with a massive 21.5% describing themselves as self-employed.

There are striking disparities between time of arrival in the UK and likelihood of becoming an entrepreneur, too. For example, immigrants arriving from China before 1993 have an 18% likelihood of becoming an entrepreneur, which drops to only 6% for those arriving between 1994-2003. For Polish immigrants that trend is reversed – only 7% of those arriving before 1993 started their own business, whereas 25% of Poles immigrating between 1994-2003 now run their own firm.

There is also significant evidence contained in the report showing migrant entrepreneurs are “breaking away from areas like corner shop retailing and catering and into other areas such as finance-administration.” Amongst Somalian business owners just 3% work in manufacturing and construction – more than ten times as many (35%) work in finance and administration.

Although immigrant entrepreneurs undoubtedly have a positive impact on the UK economy, the report highlights that they face many of the same problems as UK business owners. Access to finance in particular is proving as problematic for migrants as it is for British business owners.

Matt Smith, Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurs, said:

“The contribution of migrant entrepreneurs is, to be frank, breathtaking. Presented with such irrefutable evidence, it is now the responsibility of politicians of all parties to celebrate migrant entrepreneurs’ contributions and restate their commitment to maintaining pro-entrepreneurship immigration policies.”

You can get the full report here (PDF).