Expert View: Can Entrepreneurship Empower Marginalized Groups?

Dr Anoosheh Rostamkalaei

To mark Global Entrepreneurship Week Dr Anoosheh Rostamkalaei reflects on entrepreneurship and the role it plays within societal inclusion.

“The systems in place within society are, in their very making, a barrier to success for some marginalised groups. Refugees and migrants enter the UK with discounted education and work experience, leaving them at a disadvantage in society through no fault of their own. Entrepreneurship may allow them to rise out of this situation.  

The nature of entrepreneurship is that it generates income but also a way of feeling part of the community and an acceptance by those around you.  Regardless of the economic outcome of these entrepreneurial attempts, research has found that entrepreneurship improves individuals’ self-efficacy, confidence, pride, and dignity.  

All ventures tolerate the risk of failure; however, the ventures of marginalized groups face even more setbacks which is why as a society we must embrace inclusive entrepreneurship and think of ways to offer greater support to these individuals.

Among the setbacks some marginalized groups are facing, for example, we can point to limited access to financial resources for individuals such as asylum seekers who have fled their home country which in turn impedes entrepreneurs’ capacity to absorb financial fluctuations or develop their businesses. 

Marginalised groups are less likely to access advisory services, professional networks, or leverage IT in the development of their businesses due to lack of resources, all of which can contribute to the fragility of the businesses.  

To use entrepreneurship to empower marginalized groups and promote their inclusion in our societies, I believe, first, we should recognize the unique characteristics of each group. We then must try to understand what is about the situation that impedes the development of the businesses and inclusion of the entrepreneurs. The needs of each group differ and therefore, the barriers they face differ. The first step in promoting support for incisive entrepreneurship, I think, is recognizing these differences and offering tailored and targeted support.  

We know relatively little about how the burdens of being long-term marginalized affect the vulnerability of the business, but I believe it is an area that needs more attention to ensure the wellbeing of these groups within society.”

Dr Anoosheh Rostamkalaei is a lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Kent Business School, University of Kent. Her research covers entrepreneurial finance and inclusive entrepreneurship. Anoosheh is interested in understanding the interaction of entrepreneurship and the well-being of different groups of society. 


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