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Pilot projects launched help refugees set up businesses

PUBLISHED: 14:10 17 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:11 17 October 2019

Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced a new training scheme to encourage and support refugee entrepreneurs. Rebecca Crerar of Suffolk Refugee Support says there are a lot of skills that need to be harnessed and encouraged. Picture: GREGG BROWN/PA

Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced a new training scheme to encourage and support refugee entrepreneurs. Rebecca Crerar of Suffolk Refugee Support says there are a lot of skills that need to be harnessed and encouraged. Picture: GREGG BROWN/PA

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A new entrepreneur training scheme is being launched in East Anglia to help and encourage refugees to establish their own businesses.

The £360,300 initiative will be delivered by training agency MENTA, based in Bury St Edmunds, providing help within the urban centres of Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough.

MENTA chief executive Alex Till said: "Here at MENTA we are dedicated to supporting and guiding businesses to realise their full potential.

"This is an exciting opportunity for us to help guide individuals for whom the practicalities of running a business in our country are unfamiliar.

"We are delighted to be part of this fantastic project, helping entrepreneurs that can enrich our business landscape and our communities with their skills and expertise."

This new project, with funding from the Home Office and the National Lottery Community Fund, will deliver tailor-made start-up programmes that will take refugees from the ideas stage to the launch of their business.

It will primarily seek to help refugees who ran businesses in their home countries.

Louise Gooch, senior policy officer for the Strategic Migration Partnership, works with refugees, asylum seekers and migrants in Ipswich.

She said: "Breaking into the UK jobs market can be difficult for refugees who may find it difficult to prove their work history.

"Starting a new business can be a better option.

"Some will have had their own businesses and have had to leave them behind.

"It is a question of giving them the opportunity to showcase those skills and also finding their way through British red tape, that is where MENTA comes in.

She added: "There are some people we have got in mind to help.

"We are also planning a series of showcase events in November to try and identify more."

Rebecca Crerar, of Suffolk Refugee Support in Ipswich, added: "There are a lot of skills we need to harness and encourage in a positive way.

"It is difficult to launch any business, even more so when there are language and cultural difficulties.

"There are many people who have run businesses back home but there are many differences here. We need to encourage and support them."

Since it was established in 1984, MENTA has helped more than 35,000 entrepreneurs launch and run thriving business across East Anglia. Other one-year pilot schemes are being run in Bristol, Belfast and Staffordshire.

They are all being overseen by the Centre for Entrepreneurs.

Home secretary Priti Patel said: "The UK as a world-leading resettlement programmes which provide sanctuary for thousands of the most vulnerable refugees every year. It is vital that these refugees are given the best chance to flourish. This project will help them to build businesses and make a real success of their new lives in East Anglia."

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