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Empowering British Bangladeshi Women Through Small Enterprise?

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Most British Bangladeshi women do not have paid work, and the multiple barriers they face to employment are largely unaddressed by mainstream policies, leading to social exclusion and poverty. This study reviews the viability of supporting British Bangladeshi women to transition to self-employment. Findings suggest that British Bangladeshi women have a keen interest in economic activity, including self-employment. However, scarcity of human, social, financial and labour capital inhibit the entrepreneurial process of mobilizing resources to exploit a market opportunity.
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  1 Empowering British Bangladeshi Women Through Small Enterprise? A report prepared for Oxfam UK June 2014 Dr Julia Rouse and Asma Mirza The Centre for Business and Society Manchester Metropolitan University Business School © The Manchester Metropolitan University 2014  j.rouse@mmu.ac.uk  0161 247 6010  2 Contents Abstract ....................................................................................................................................... 4 Executive Summary ...................................................................................................................... 5 1. Introduction........................................................................................................................ 13 1.1. Empowerment Through Business Creation .................................................................... 15 1.2. The Study: Empowerment of British Bangladeshi Migrant Women Through Entrepreneurship.................................................................................................................... 16 2. Research Methodology ........................................................................................................ 17 3. Background: Bangladeshi Heritage Women in Britain ............................................................ 18 3.1. Human Capital ............................................................................................................. 19 3.2. Economic Activity Status .............................................................................................. 21 4. Enterprise Support Services: The Local Policy Context, Community Hosts and the Enterprise Projects...................................................................................................................................... 22 4.1. The Local Contexts for Enterprise Policy and Support ..................................................... 22 4.2. Welfare Support for Business Start-up .......................................................................... 25 4.3. The Community Hosts .................................................................................................. 27 4.4. The Enterprise Projects ................................................................................................ 30 5. The Resources at Hand For Enterprise Project Participants .................................................... 34 5.1. Background: Migration Histories ................................................................................... 34 5.2. Human capital ............................................................................................................. 35 5.3. Social capital................................................................................................................ 38 5.4. Economic capital.......................................................................................................... 40 5.5. Labour capital .............................................................................................................. 41 5.6. The Role of the Community Hosts in Developing the Women’s Resource s Prior to the Enterprise Projects.................................................................................................................. 41 6. Business Start-Up Experience, Motivation and Opportunity and Orientation........................... 42 6.1. Previous Business Experience, Entrepreneurial Intention and Ideas ................................ 42 6.2. Motivation for Business Start-Up .................................................................................. 43 6.3. Commercial Awareness ................................................................................................ 45 6.4. Growth Ambitions and Attitudes to Risk ........................................................................ 48 6.5. Business Opportunities ................................................................................................ 49 7. Resource Command in Business Start-Up .............................................................................. 52 7.1. Economic capital.......................................................................................................... 52  3 7.2. Social capital................................................................................................................ 58 7.3. Human capital ............................................................................................................. 63 7.4. Labour Capital ............................................................................................................. 68 8. Outcomes and Future Directions .......................................................................................... 70 8.1. Stage of Business Development .................................................................................... 70 8.2. Future prospects.......................................................................................................... 72 8.3. Empowerment Through Enterprise Support?................................................................. 77 9. Policy, Practice and Research Recommendations .................................................................. 78 10. References ...................................................................................................................... 81 This research was supported by Oxfam GB and the report is shared to contribute to public debate and to invite feedback on development policy and practice. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Oxfam's views or policy positions.  4  Abstract Most British Bangladeshi women do not have paid work and the multiple barriers they face to employment are largely unaddressed by mainstream policies, leading to social exclusion and poverty. In this study, Manchester Metropolitan University reviewed - with Oxfam and other stakeholders - the viability of supporting British Bangladeshi women to transition to self-employment. Specifically, two enterprise projects supported by Oxfam were assessed in the context of wider enterprise and welfare reform as a means of empowering British Bangladeshi women. Findings suggest that British Bangladeshi women have a keen interest in economic activity, including self-employment. However, scarcity of human, social, financial and labour capital inhibit the entrepreneurial process of mobilising resources to exploit a market opportunity. We call for intensification, integration and innovation of services supporting pathways to enterprise for people living in poverty. British Bangladeshi women require command of a wide range of resources that can only be provided through support from a wide range of institutions. We, therefore, propose that service providers are brought together to offer more intensive and integrated pathways to enterprise. In particular, women who are economically inactive require greater accessibility to the New Enterprise Allowance. Of equal importance to resource acquisition is support to identify real market opportunities and to mobilise resources to form a competitive offering. A form of business development support allied to the effectuation model is proposed in favour of conventional business start-up training. We conclude that self-employment can only be a viable route out of poverty through innovations in resource enhancement and mobilisation. Light touch programmes carry the risk of wasted investment and negative outcomes.
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