Here are some of our projects.
CREME is undertaking numerous projects, both continuous and new, in collaboration with esteemed colleagues within Aston Business School and more broadly.
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.
Monder Ram, Trevor Jones, Maria Villares (Southampton University), Sabina Doldor and Hongqin Li
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.
Richard Roberts, Monder Ram and Trevor Jones
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.
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
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.
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
Graeme Roy, Patricia Findlay, Monder Ram and colleagues from Ulster University and the Universities of Sheffield, Nottingham, East Anglia, Cardiff and Strathclyde
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.
Monder Ram, Eva Kasperova, Paul Basil, Gerardo Arriaga,Citizens UK, NatWest Bank and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Enterprise Partnership
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.
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.
Elsa Zenatti-Daniels, Sarah Collins, Gurdeep Chima
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.
Project Staff: Monder Ram, Elina Meliou, Susan Lanz, Rakhi Parmar, Wray Bennett, Ibrahim Abbas, Alexander Lamle, Shuai Qin
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.
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.
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
“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”
‘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.’
Pathways to Enterprising Futures Project is part-funded by European Social Fund, Aston University, Ashley Community Housing and Citizens UK
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.
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
Richard Roberts, Bochra Idris, Neha Prashar, Anastasia Ri, Monder Ram, Mark Hart
Funder: Federation for Small Businesses
January 2020 - June 2020