Sixteen years of ‘Making Diversity and Enterprise Everyone’s Business’


The seismic effects of Covid-19, Black Lives Matter and Brexit are being keenly felt by ethnic minority communities. Our work at CREME has always operated at the intersection of inequality and enterprise. These profound influences will imbue our mission of ‘making diversity and enterprise everyone’s business’ with renewed purpose. We’ll pursue this agenda with excellent colleagues at Aston University and our diverse network of practitioner partners.

It’s 16 years since CREME, now operating at the heart of Aston Business School, came into being. The intervening period has witnessed a dizzying degree of change in the way we understand ethnic minority enterprise, the range of stakeholders with an interest in the subject matter, and the positioning of minority business issues within the small firm policy agenda. But the philosophy that gave rise to CREME is still very much to the fore. The Centre was a joint venture between the Regional Development Agency (East Midlands Development Agency) with a passion for promoting enterprise amongst all communities, and a group of researchers committed to making a difference to practitioners as well as the academy.

We’re now based at Aston University, an institution firmly committed to entrepreneurship, diversity and research that makes a difference to communities.

Our ambitions are threefold:

  1. Change the narrative on ethnic minority enterprise. We aim to place ethnic minority enterprise in the mainstream of academic work on entrepreneurship and other social science disciplines. For many years, the contribution of ethnic minorities to business has been neglected, or at best, subject to stereotypical depictions that either ‘exoticise’ or ‘victimise’ the entrepreneurial activity of ethnic minorities. The narrative needs to change to reflect the rich, vibrant and multi-faceted nature of ethnic minority entrepreneurship. Our report for the Federation of Small Businesses does exactly this: it uses the most authoritative data available and shows that ethnic minority firms are more innovative, growth-minded and export-oriented than their white-owned counterparts.
  1. Work alongside practitioners on programmes of meaningful change. We are proud of our track record of collaboration with practitioners. Such collaborations have resulted in landmark initiatives on access to finance, supplier diversity, and inclusive business support. We’re currently working with Citizens UK Birmingham, Ashley Community Housing, and Punch Records on a major ESRC-funded initiative to boost productivity in microbusinesses. This project is already making an impact on businesses: Punch Records has convened a highly innovative leadership programme – called the “P” Word - to support black creative talent involved in the research. 
  1. Make a difference to ethnic minority communities and businesses. It’s vital to work with partners to support ethnic minority entrepreneurs and workers. We do this by generating applied knowledge, collaborating with business support practitioners, and creating programmes of practical support. The latter include our Business Leaders Project (BLP) with Citizens UK and NatWest Bank, and the Diverse Supply Chains (DSC) initiative. The BLP is in its fifth year and is developing a dynamic approach to inclusive support based on the principle of ‘community organising’. Businesses from all backgrounds are benefiting from the links that the DSC is brokering with private and public sector buyers involved in the HS2.

These ambitions are being put into a practice by a talented and diverse team of applied researchers, who are working with our practitioner partners on series of projects.  This team of academics, practitioners and entrepreneurs are working together on an agenda that has never been so important.

If you wish to be kept updated on CREMEs activities and its projects please follow us on twitter @CREMEatAston or on LinkedIN

Monder Ram