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

Current Projects
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

Monder Ram, Elina Meliou, Aston Centre for Growth, ACH, Punch Records, Citizens UK Birmingham
July 2021 

Pathways to Enterprising Futures (PEF) is a gender-sensitive programme for Entrepreneurship and Employability, it is an innovative approach to opening pathways and supporting enterprise skills for ethnic minority women 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.

The project will work with three partners, Citizens UK, ACH and Punch Records to deliver outreach activities to engage with women 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 women in ethnic minority 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, boot camps 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 women entrepreneurs, and a template for operating accessible support and networks for women from ethnic minority communities who face barriers to enterprise and entrepreneurship.

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