The headlines are buzzing about immigration, especially as the 2015 elections are quickly approaching for Britain. Shockingly, migrant entrepreneurs play a much bigger role than previously believed. We can thank migrant entrepreneurs for starting one in seven UK companies. Surinder Arora is part of that one in seven. Unable to speak a word of English, he arrived from India – just a young 13-year-old boy. Four decades later, he owns a long line of hotels in Britain. He also operates the Heathrow’s Sofitel franchise.
Surinder Arora, says, “What I found out early on was that mum had three jobs. She had a day job in a factory, in the evening she’d come home and cook for the family and then leave and to to another job which was cleaning a bank and an office that really kind of got me thinking, if my family can work so hard why can’t I.”
For generations and generations, immigrants have been settling in the UK. In the 1940s, Indian doctors helped to build the country’s now-acclaimed National Health Service. In more recent times, public consensus towards immigrants has dimmed. Over 75% of Brits wish to see the number of immigrants cut.
A study by Centre for Entrepreneurs and DueDil proves that they’re are very crucial to Britain’s economy. Almost 500,000 people (from 155 countries) have started businesses in Britain. To bring this into proper perspective, that is twice as many as Brits. To give a little more insight, these immigrants are also eight years younger (on average) than the UK-born entrepreneurs. Luke Johnson falls in that sector as well. He also is a contributing author to this new report.
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Luke Johnson of Centre for Entrepreneurs, says, “One is I think we would have a less diverse culture, two I think we would have fewer businesses. Consequently we would have fewer jobs created by those businesses. Four I think those businesses quite likely are disproportionately innovative, partly because immigrants come from other places. They bring with them ideas and new concepts which means that some of those catch on and become part of our nation.”
The largest contributing group of foreign-born founders in the UK are the Irish, Indians, Germans, Americans and Chinese (in descending order).
Luke Johnson of Centre for Entrepreneurs, says, “By there nature migrants are self selecting, they are more likely to be strivers, more likely to be adventurous and so inevitably they are perhaps more likely to start a business or do their own thing.”
Surinder aspired to be a pilot at age 18, but flying lessons ran for £21 an hour at that time.
Surinder Arora says, “I was earning £34 a week, so I could only afford one lesson a week which would take me years to get my license.”
Instead of taking that route, he became a wine waiter in an airport hotel… that he now owns (along with 15 others). He has 2,000 employees and, frankly, puts the prime minister in a tight situation. David Cameron has pledged to cut migration in half by 2060. But such a decision could really hurt economic recovery and would cost him future entrepreneurs.