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Migrant entrepreneurs prove their worth

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 02:53

March 11 - Immigration has become a hot topic in Britain ahead of elections in 2015 but a new report by the Centre for Entrepreneurs shows they are crucial to the economy, responsible for starting one in seven UK companies. Hayley Platt talks to one migrant who came to England as a boy 42 years ago and is now a multi-million pound hotelier.

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One in seven UK companies have been started by migrant entrepreneurs. Surinder Arora is one of them. He arrived from India aged 13, unable to speak a word of English. Four decades on he owns a string of hotels in Britain. And operates the franchise for Heathrow's Sofitel. SOUNDBITE: Surinder Arora, owner and founder of Arora Hotels, saying (English): "What I found out early on was that mum had three jobs. She had a day job in a factory, in the evening she'd come home and cook for the family and then leave and to to another job which was cleaning a bank and an office that really kind of got me thinking, if my family can work so hard why can't I." Immigrants have been settling in the UK for generations. The country's acclaimed National Health Service was built with the help of Indian doctors in the 1940s. More recently though, public attitudes towards immigrants have soured. Over three quarters of Britons say they want to see numbers cut. But a new study by the Centre for Entrepreneurs and DueDil shows they're crucial to Britain's economy. Nearly half a million people from 155 countries have launched businesses here. That's twice as many as Brits. They're also, on average, eight years younger than UK-born entrepreneurs. Luke Johnson's one of those - he's also one of the report's authors. SOUNDBITE: Luke Johnson, Centre for Entrepreneurs, saying (English): "One is I think we would have a less diverse culture, two I think we would have fewer businesses. Consequently we would have fewer jobs created by those businesses. Four I think those businesses quite likely are disproportionately innovative, partly because immigrants come from other places. They bring with them ideas and new concepts which means that some of those catch on and become part of our nation." The Irish are the largest group of foreign-born founders in the UK. Followed by Indians. Germans are in third place ahead of Americans. And Chinese entrepreneurs are fifth. SOUNDBITE: Luke Johnson, Centre for Entrepreneurs, saying (English): "By there nature migrants are self selecting, they are more likely to be strivers, more likely to be adventurous and so inevitably they are perhaps more likely to start a business or do their own thing." At 18 Surinder had wanted to be a pilot. But flying lessons cost £21 an hour. SOUNDBITE: Surinder Arora, owner and founder of Arora Hotels, saying (English): "I was earning £34 a week, so I could only afford one lesson a week which would take me years to get my license." Instead he got a job as a wine waiter in an airport hotel he now owns, along with 15 others. He employs 2,000 people and puts the Prime Minister in a difficult position. David Cameron has vowed to half net migration by 2060. But doing so could lose him future entrepreneurs, at a key time for the recovering economy.

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Migrant entrepreneurs prove their worth

Tuesday, March 11, 2014 - 02:53