Press release

Michelle Mone OBE to lead government review on supporting business start-ups

Michelle Mone OBE is to lead a major government review on supporting business start-ups in disadvantaged communities.

Leading entrepreneur and businesswomen, Michelle Mone OBE, has been appointed to conduct an independent review to encourage further business start-ups and entrepreneurship in disadvantaged communities, including areas of high unemployment.

The UK is rated as the best place in Europe and one of the best places in the world to start a business. And as part of the government’s long-term economic plan, nearly 70,000 new businesses have been set up through the New Enterprise Allowance scheme since 2010.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said:

Entrepreneurship can play an important role in supporting economic growth and creating jobs in our most disadvantaged communities. However, people living in these areas face a range of additional barriers they need to overcome in starting and growing businesses.

I am delighted Michelle has agreed to lead this review. There’s no-one I can think of who is better qualified to help young entrepreneurs from deprived backgrounds to turn a good idea into a flourishing business.

We used to be known as a nation of shopkeepers. I want Michelle to report back to me on how we can encourage people of all backgrounds to take up this entrepreneurial spirit.

Michelle Mone OBE said:

It is an honour to be appointed to lead this review because I know how tough it can be setting up your own business. I am passionate about doing everything I can, to help create a climate in which people of all ages and backgrounds can succeed in setting up successful businesses.

My philosophy is that it does not matter where you are from, what education you have, or if you are from an affluent background or not, you can make it if you work hard, set your goals and never give up. I’ll be traveling across the UK from John O’Groats to Land’s End to talk to and listen to people and groups from all backgrounds. I want to learn about the barriers they are facing and what changes are needed.

A truly modern and successful economy needs to be able to unleash the entrepreneurial energy of skills of everyone in society. It cannot tolerate a situation where people are held back from achieving dreams of working for themselves and creating jobs for others, simply because of where they are from, because they have had a really tough time growing up, or because they are a lone parent.

Business Secretary, Sajid Javid, said:

Small businesses are Britain’s engine room and they can help close the economic gap between the north and the south. The success of our economy is built on the hard work and determination of the people who run and work for them.

This review is a great opportunity to engage and learn from them, celebrating their successes and sharing best practice to cement the UK’s position as the best place in Europe to start and grow a business.

Through measures like our Enterprise Bill, trebling Start up Loans and cutting red tape, we are backing small businesses to grow and create more jobs and opportunity.

Michelle was raised in a deprived part of Glasgow’s East End and, after leaving school at 15, she founded the Ultimo business in her twenties. She subsequently won the World Young Business Achiever Award in the US, as she took the lingerie brand global before the multi-million pound sale of 80% of the business last year. A serial designer and inventor, she has patented 16 different inventions, and now runs several businesses including UTan, as well as being in demand as a global speaker. Michelle was recently voted one of the top 7 inspiring female entrepreneurs in the world alongside Oprah Winfrey.

She will lead this major review having overcome a number of barriers on her road to success. After leaving school with no qualifications and having her first child at 18, she battled through to create a globally recognised brand. She knows first-hand the challenges that come up with setting up a business, while also facing personal tragedy. Her father was diagnosed with cancer and left paralysed, but, she persevered in making her business a success. Her experience in tackling these obstacles will provide practical examples to others from disadvantaged backgrounds in how to overcome their own barriers.

The review will identify the obstacles that people in the most disadvantaged areas face in becoming entrepreneurs, such as the lack of business networks and the lack of inspiring role models and mentors.

Michelle has been asked to draw on her own experiences of setting up and running her own successful businesses for the review that will make recommendations to Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith and Business Secretary Sajid Javid in 2016.

She will travel across the country visiting communities with higher levels of deprivation – including areas of entrenched worklessness and lower education levels – to identify the barriers people in these areas face in setting up their own businesses.

The review will have a particular focus on disadvantaged groups including benefit claimants, women, young and disabled people and ex-offenders.

More information

Michelle will be supported by a DWP secretariat, and will be able to draw on the expertise of a range of other people from business and the community sector to support her work. This might be in the form of an advisory group including prominent MPs.

The New Enterprise Allowance helps jobseekers, with a good idea to set up their own business. The scheme has already helped budding entrepreneurs set up nearly 70,000 new businesses, with help from a mentor and financial support payable through a weekly allowance.

Earlier this summer, the government launched its See Potential campaign to engage with employers so they see the benefits of employing people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

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