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Investing in UK’s ‘missing entrepreneurs’ would boost economy by billions

Research released today reveals:

  • Two thirds of adults in the UK want to start their own business
  • Nearly a quarter do not try because they lack confidence or skills
  • Under-represented groups face the biggest barriers to starting a business
  • £200 billion is lost to the economy due to the lack of women founders
  • Black-run businesses are four times less likely to get finance
  • Disabled face discrimination and dilemma of losing their benefits

The UK is losing billions of pounds in revenue each year by failing to provide investment and support for ‘missing entrepreneurs’ among disadvantaged groups.

Research commissioned by Visionnaires, which helps new aspiring and innovative entrepreneurs, reveals nearly two thirds of UK adults want to start their own business.

However, more than a quarter give up because they have a fear of failure, do not think they have the relevant skills or confidence or because they feel underqualified.

Under-represented groups such as women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities face the biggest barriers to entrepreneurship.

  • Just one in three entrepreneurs in the UK are women, with figures showing that there would be 1.1 million more businesses – an additional £200 billion in revenue to the UK economy –

if the proportion of female entrepreneurs was the same as Canada, Australia and the US.

  • Ethnic minorities appear to face discrimination when accessing finance, with research showing black-run businesses are more than four times less likely to get a loan. Self-doubt, a lack of role models and low confidence in business support have also deterred many people from ethnic minorities from starting their own businesses.
  • Disabled people also experience discrimination from banks when seeking start-up capital and face the additional dilemma of losing state support benefits.

Sidratu Koroma, from Maida Vale in London, became the 500th person to join Visionnaires in January 2022 to develop her international development consultancy business SK Consulting.

Her company aims to transform the business of aid to Africa by providing a range of HR services to harness talent in recipient countries to support more sustainable economic development.

Sidratu said: “Visionnaires has provided me with insight into the current business environment and the practical tools to get things done, from comprehensive but straightforward business planning and cashflow forecasting, to guidance on available funding options.

“The programme demystifies various aspects of starting a business such as marketing, social media, legal requirements, sales and finance.”

Visionnaires was piloted within Capital City College Group in 2019 and became a community interest company with three other college groups representing 12 colleges across the UK last August.

Hundreds of people have already participated in Visionnaires, two thirds have been women and a third have been from ethnic minorities, leading to 50 new start-up businesses.

Participants, also known as Visionnaires, attend free workshops on business topics including marketing, selling, finance and business planning. They also receive ongoing advice and support as they start to grow their business.

Pablo Lloyd OBE, CEO of Visionnaires, said: “There is a real desire among UK adults to be their own boss and start their own business, but many do not know where to start or don’t believe they can do it.

“This means too many people are missing out. That means we’re all missing out, particularly now, when the economy needs all our business creativity to find new ways of adding value and earning a living.

“We created Visionnaires to solve this problem, by providing inclusive and practical support for anyone who wants to start their own business or enter self-employment, working with further education colleges to reach under-represented communities.

“Access to trustworthy support is one of the most important ingredients of success. Many entrepreneurs discover this the hard way by failing, while many others lack the confidence and support to even start.

“These research findings set a challenge for all organisations helping new businesses. By being accessible and winning the trust of the communities that are missing out, Visionnaires can build the confidence and competence people need to succeed.”

Find out more about how Visionnaires can help you start your business at


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