CREME is undertaking numerous projects, both continuous and new, in collaboration with esteemed colleagues within Aston Business School and more broadly.

Current Projects
MILE: Migrant Integration through Locally Designed Experiences

Monder Ram, Eva Kasperova
Funder: European Commission
January 2022 - December 2023

The Migrant Integration through Locally designed Experiences (MILE) project is funded by the European Commission and has been established to create a sustainable ecosystem and a replicable cooperation between the municipalities and local migrant led associations following the specific features and needs of each city involved in the project. The project sees the involvement of 6 countries: Belgium, Greece, Latvia, Spain, Netherlands, and the UK. The municipalities will constitute a European Network of Exchange and Collaboration (ENEC) of best practices, pitfalls, and mutual learnings just as all the migrant led organisations in the different country will build up a peer-to-peer exchange platform that will constitute the backbone of future collaborations. The diversity of perspectives, migrant communities and local policies will be the main added value of the research which aim will be to turn the experiences into recommendations for better integration policies.

Supported by the science for policy approach, MILE aims at setting up inclusive consultative mechanisms for each city involved, in the area that is the most impacted by the migrant presence and agency. The ultimate scope is to enhance the possibility for the migrants to not only raise their voices and participate in a meaningful way but also to co-create and co-design integration policies in their localities, based on their urgent needs. At the same time, MILE will give to the municipality valid tools to assess the real necessities of the local migrant community. 

Refugee Entrepreneurs: Now and Then

Monder Ram, Trevor Jones, Maria Villares (Southampton University), Sabina Doldor and Hongqin Li
Funder: CREME
December 2019 - November 2021

What happens to refugees during the entrepreneurial life-cycle? Do refugees simply view entrepreneurship as means of survival? Do they simply ‘get’ by’ on a day-to-day basis? Or is their scope for significant growth? We examine these questions in our longitudinal qualitative study of how refugee-origin entrepreneurs in the UK develop their businesses over a period of time.

The Evolution of Business Support Policy for Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurs

Richard Roberts, Monder Ram and Trevor Jones
Funder: CREME 
January 2019-December 2021

This project seeks to use a mixture of archival and contemporary sources of research material to chart the development and content of UK business support for the SME community.  While much has been written about the importance of the Bolton Inquiry into small firms (1969-71) most of this concentrates on the political circumstances at the time.  Virtually nothing has been researched to identify the linkages between the Inquiry and subsequently the detailed emergence and development of specific support policies.  Initial work is underway on charting the development of EMB policy between the late 1970s and today with a view to a greater understanding of policy issues.  Similar work is already planned on small business finance policy with other areas to be investigated when time and resources allow.

Productivity from Below: Addressing the Productivity Challenges of Microbusinesses

Monder Ram, Mark Hart, Luke Fletcher, Judy Scully, Anne Green (Birmingham  and Stephen Roper. Non-academic partners: Ashley Community Housing, the Bangladeshi Network, Citizens UK and Punch Records
Funder: ESRC
February 2019-January 2021

This project uses academic research, co-produced with practitioners, to design and implement scalable policies to boost productivity by strengthening management practices in micro-businesses (with 1-9 employees). The project will focus on businesses owned and run by disadvantaged communities in the West Midlands, who are some of the 'toughest nuts to crack' in terms of business support for enhancing productivity. 

Innovation, Diversity and Supply Chains

Nick Theodorakopolous, Monder Ram and ABS Colleagues
Funder: European Regional Development Fund
November 2019 - October 2022

The purpose of the project is to assist minority owned businesses to enter the supply chains of major contractors within the private and public sector.

Find out more information here

ProPEL Hub: Productivity Outcomes of Workplace Practice, Engagement and Learning

Graeme Roy, Patricia Findlay, Monder Ram and colleagues from Ulster University and the Universities of Sheffield, Nottingham, East Anglia, Cardiff and Strathclyde
Funder: ESRC
February 2020 – January 2023

The hub will work with businesses, policymakers and support organisations to help improve the UK’s productivity performance through better management and employee engagement. 
A range of themes, from management and leadership, to innovation, job design, and lessons from workplace practice and employee engagement, will be studied, with the aim of identifying practical steps to boost productivity within businesses and the UK economy.  
The PrOPEL Hub will also act as a focal point for engagement with policymakers, businesses and employee organisations across the UK, with the aim of informing future decision making with the latest cutting-edge research.

Inclusive Business Support Ecosystem

Monder Ram, Eva Kasperova, Paul Basil, Gerardo Arriaga,Citizens UK, NatWest Bank and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Enterprise Partnership
Funder: ERDF
May 2020 - April 2023

The ‘Inclusive Business support Ecosystem’ (BIE) project provides business support to entrepreneurs in  three disadvantaged areas (Lozells, Small Heath and Sparkhill). It comprises a unique partnership of researchers (CREME), civil society (Citizens UK Birmingham) and the banking sector (NatWest Bank). The first phase of the BIE project exceeded targets by: providing support to over 50 businesses in three disadvantaged areas (Lozells, Small Heath and Sparkhill); interacting with 219 entrepreneurs who had not previously engaged with business support providers; and developing a unique and scalable model of inclusive business support. The next will: draw on the lessons of the first phase; deliver bespoke business support to growth firms in the three areas; and provide a clear pathway to ensure that such support becomes part and parcel of ‘mainstream’ business support provision.

The Psychological Contract and Migrant Entrepreneurs

Sudeshna Bhattacharya, Monder Ram and Trevor Jones
Funder: Aston Business School
December 2018 - November 2018

What is the career trajectory of migrant entrepreneurs? This is a rarely explored question, and it easy to see why: migrant businesses are often precarious with limited prospects for longevity; micro-businesses (which encompasses most migrant enterprises) remain small and are pre-occupied with day-to-day survival; and such firms lack internal labour markets, thus problematising the notion of ‘career’. This project generates new academic knowledge by interrogating a unique qualitative data set comprising case studies of migrant firms studied since 2010. We revisit these firms and examine the extent to which the notion of career helps to explain their trajectories. 

Student Engagement Project – CREME Placements

Elsa Zenatti-Daniels, Sarah Collins, Gurdeep Chima 
February 2021

This project will engage students in the work that CREME does, and students are invited to participate in two ways. The first stream will focus on partnering a module within the MSc programme focussing on a social media, communications and marketing strategy for CREME, and a student will be offered a 4-week paid internship during the Summer quarter of 2020.

Pathways to Enterprising Futures

Project Staff: Monder Ram, Elina Meliou, Susan Lanz, Rakhi Parmar, Wray Bennett, Ibrahim Abbas, Alexander Lamle, Shuai Qin
Funding body: European Social Fund

Project Partners: ACH and Citizens UK Birmingham

Pathways to Enterprising Futures (PEF) is a programme for Entrepreneurship and Employability, it is an innovative approach to opening employment pathways and supporting enterprise skills for ethnic minority individuals in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP (GBS LEP) area. Blending cutting edge research and outstanding links with diverse communities and building on Aston's work with highly credible intermediaries who are leaders in their field in a co-created programme of support.

Part funded by the European Social Fund, the project works with two partners, Citizens UK and ACH to deliver outreach activities to engage with individuals from diverse backgrounds, in hard to reach communities, and ensure they have the opportunity and know how to start a business, helping them move closer to self-employment or employment and improving diversity and representation in GBS LEP’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

This will be achieved through a number of diverse activities including identifying economically inactive or unemployed ethnic minority individuals in communities who are open to building their skills and engaging in enterprise activity, listening and consulting with them about their interests, skills, opportunities and barriers and offering them a range of support services. The support services will include one-to-one support, workshops and advice surgeries delivered in communities and online peer networks.

The project will be underpinned by an action research framework and will provide research evidence to policy makers about the skills and business support needs of entrepreneurs, and a template for operating accessible support and networks for ethnic minority communities who face barriers to enterprise and entrepreneurship.

What does support look like? 

The project provides free* tailored support to help participants in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull area take a step closer to the labour market by getting them into job search, into employment, or starting their own business in 3 steps:

Step One - Initial Interview – to get to know you and look at how we can help

We can organise a time convenient to you for an informal interview, we’d like to get to know you, find out more about what you would like to achieve, and we will check you are eligible for the support. We will speak to you about the type of job you would like to apply for, or your ideas and thoughts on the business you would like to start and help to address any barriers you may have. 

Step Two – Progress Plan – look at how we can support you

Once we have checked you are eligible, we will work with you to create a Progress Plan to provide you with the tailored support you need. This can include training courses, how to start up a business, confidence building, how to write a CV and where to look for the job you want. We will sign post you to suitable job clubs, vacancies, workshops and training sessions.

Step Three – Success! – get you job ready, or start your own business

By the time we get to this step we would like for you to have found a job, be looking for a job or have all the necessary information to be able to start your own business. With right support we believe we can help you make your way to a brighter future.

*Who can apply?

Our eligibility criteria is as follows:
•    Aged 18 and above
•    Living in Birmingham and Solihull
•    Have permission to work in UK 
•    NOT in employment or self-employment

We can support individual’s meeting the above eligibility criteria, but the project will also give focus to individuals who are:

•    From an Ethnic Minority 
•    Lone Parents
•    With a disability 
•    Over 50 years of age
•    Without basic skills

Participant Testimonials

“I would recommend PEF for anyone out there who is currently unemployed, low self-esteem, wanting to improve their skills (i.e. English) or training of even if they are looking to start their own business. It boosted my confidence and I gained a sense of purpose”
Mohammad Almasri 

‘I am happy being part of the project, everyone has been helpful and supportive for me to improve my skills. I feel as though I have benefited from this whole experience, and I am looking forward to the future.’ 
Amina Missi

Contact Us

  • Email to find out more.
  • Twitter @PEFProject
  • LinkedIn @esf-pathways-to-enterprising-futures

The project is receiving funding from the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England. The Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for the England European Social Fund programme. Established by the European Union, the European Social Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support skills development, employment and job creation, social inclusion and local community regenerations. For more information visit 

Lid on Enterprise Diversity and Growth in the West Midlands

To collect and analyse data on business creation of ethnic minorities in the West Midlands to add to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) dataset. This will generate data to support evidence based policy making on minority enterprise and inclusive.

More information on this project is available.

Previous Projects
Rethinking Migrant Entrepreneurship

Monder Ram, Maria Villares (Southampton University), Sabina Doldor, Gerardo Arriaga, Hongqin Li and Ashley Community Housing (ACH)
Funders: ESRC, ACH and CRÈME
October 2015 - September 2020

A long-term programme of knowledge exchange that comprises a variety of different interventions, including academic research on the aspirations of refugee entrepreneurs, capacity-building support for ACH staff, and collaboration on ACH's national 'Rethinking Refugees' campaign, which aims to promote a positive discourse on refugees in the UK

Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurs Sourcebook - Unlocking Opportunity Report

Richard Roberts, Bochra Idris, Neha Prashar, Anastasia Ri, Monder Ram, Mark Hart
Funder: Federation for Small Businesses
January 2020 - June 2020