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High number of overseas-born entrepreneurs choosing UK as base for their business

Research into the nationalities of directors of small companies in the UK* reveals that the highest numbers of overseas born entrepreneurs come from India (16,272) and Pakistan (9,903). Large numbers of new businesses are also being set up by those born in other leading economies including Germany (7,770), China (7,439) and Nigeria (7,199).

Procorre explains that the government has taken several steps to encourage entrepreneurs from overseas to the UK in recent years. The introduction of the Entrepreneur Visa, for example, which allows foreigners to establish a business and earn a fast track to full British citizenship, has drawn an increasing number to the country.

Wiktor Podgorski, contracts & HR manager at Procorre comments, “The UK provides a favourable environment for start-ups and this is reflected in the high number of internationally-connected entrepreneurs who have chosen to set up here.”

“Entrepreneurs can benefit from the UK’s flexible legal framework and favourable tax system. They also gain access to a high quality talent pool, a strong local market and valuable opportunities for trade with the EU.”

Podgorskiadds, “Whilst some of these entrepreneurs will have already been resident in the UK, many will have come from overseas solely to take advantage of the unique prospects that the UK offers.”

Procorre points out that non-British born entrepreneurs have been behind a number of highly successful UK start-ups, including

Cobra Beer, founded by Indian-born Lord Bilimoria, the online travel agency founded by Dinesh Dhamija, the son of an Indian diplomat, born in Australia

Euro Car Parts, set up by Ugandan-born Sukhpal Singh Ahluwalia, which was sold in 2011 for &pound225m – online furniture retailer co-founded by Chinese born entrepreneur Ning Li

Overseas-born entrepreneurs provide UK with valuable links to high growth economies.

Procorre explains that the UK’s high proportion of overseas-born entrepreneurs can help the UK to develop strong links with crucial high growth markets from overseas by providing valuable connections to their home economies.

According to World Bank data, a large proportion of the UK’s overseas-born entrepreneurs are from economies growing far faster than the global average of 2.6%, for example India’s GDP growth rate is 5.6%, China’s 7.4% and Nigeria’s stands at 7.4%.

Wiktor Podgorskicomments, “Foreign entrepreneurs’ contacts with their home country could open up valuable opportunities for trade and growth.  With such a high proportion of directors of small UK companies born in India, the chance for Britain to establish closer connections with one of the world’s fastest growing economies gives us a major advantage.”  

Top ten countries of origin: directors of small UK companies*

Country of origin

Number of directors of small companies in UK






















*Companies with one director. Excludes Ireland



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