Enterprise and Diversity Alliance at CREME (Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship )

Institution: Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham

Business School Lead: Kiran Trehan and Monder Ram

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The Enterprise and Diversity Alliance (EDA) is a unique grouping of public and private sector organisations dedicated to promoting diversity and enterprise. Established in 2010, the EDA is the flagship knowledge-exchange initiative of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME). The EDA is internationally-recognised for its work on promoting minority entrepreneurship, influencing policy and facilitating economic regeneration. It is supported by the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), leading policy-makers and professional bodies.[1] Its mission is to ‘make diversity and enterprise everyone’s business’ by: engaging with policy-makers to promote best practice; supporting growth in minority businesses; and serving as an exemplar on innovative approaches to diversity and entrepreneurship.

A need for the EDA arises for three reasons. The retreat of successive governments from publicly-funded business support means that many agencies that previously supported minority businesses ceased to operate and there is a danger that learning accrued will be lost. There is no other nationally-recognised entity promoting good practice in diversity and enterprise. The EDA promotes greater engagement between banks, professional associations and corporations; and minority businesses.

Research (Ram and Trehan, 2010, 2012) informed the development of the EDA, particularly in encouraging engagement between minority entrepreneurs and ‘mainstream’ institutions; the research reinforces mentoring as an effective means of capacity-building in minority businesses. Work is undertaken as part of a principled commitment to ‘engaged’ scholarship, with concerns of practitioners on a par with scholarly issues, a unique approach in academic, policy and practitioner circles. Management of large-scale academic projects is undertaken alongside the leadership of practitioner initiatives. Our work on peer to peer mentoring was promoted as ‘best practice’ in national and European policy arenas.[2] This work casts new light on academic debates and the impacts on minority businesses have had a direct bearing on policy and practice in the public and private sectors.

A sign of the influence of the EDA is its prominence in the ‘Burt Report: Inclusive Support for Women in Enterprise’. Many of the report’s recommendations were based on the EDA’s ‘best-practice’ document.  The EDA’s initiatives on peer mentoring featured in the Sunday Times [June 2013] and were praised by the National Enterprise Mentoring Advisory Group.  The EDA presented its work to the House of Lords and European Commission and is influencing mentoring projects in Brussels. There is considerable interest in Europe in how governments can support minority entrepreneurship.

Website: www.birmingham.ac.uk/creme
Contact: Kiran Trehan and Monder Ram, Enterprise and Diversity Alliance Professors k.trehan@bham.ac.uk  m.ram@bham.ac.uk

[1] Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, Barclays, Business in the Community, the Equality & Human Rights Commission, Lloyds Banking Group: Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative and NatWest Bank

[2] Lloyds Banking Group, British Bankers Association, and OECD see  Mentoring and Diversity Lloyds Case Study