November 2 - 10:00 am


November 27 - 11:30 am

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Learn how the Productivity from Below project uses academic research to address and boost productivity in microbusinesses

Micro-businesses rarely attract policy attention despite their importance. There are more than 1.1 million microbusinesses, employing 4.1 million people (18.6% of all private sector employees) and contributing £55bn of turnover (or £1 in every £6 of turnover from employing firms). This is far too big an economic contribution to neglect. However, management processes and working practices in these organisations are often informal and opaque, which poses challenges for the assessment of productivity and performance. Conventional productivity measures are unlikely to capture the way in which work is organised in many micro-businesses.

The ESRC-funded Productivity from Below project from Aston, Birmingham and Warwick University develops productivity-boosting interventions to support micro-businesses (with 1-9 employees) in the West Midlands. The three-year project led by Professor Monder Ram focuses on firms facing major challenges: retailers in deprived areas; the Bangladeshi catering sector and creative businesses with owners and workers from deprived backgrounds.

In this seminar, the team will share how this unique project, co-produced with practitioner partners, uses academic research to address and boost productivity practices in disadvantaged micro business communities in the West Midlands. Join us to discover how the project is working with catering, retail and creative industries to identify and develop their productivity practices.

This event is part of the PrOPEL Hub’s research showcase. Find out about more of our planned events at

More about our speakers

Professor Monder Ram is the Director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME). His work aims to address the societal challenges of diversity and inclusion in misrepresented and hard to reach communities of entrepreneurs. He is a leading authority on small business and BAME entrepreneurship and advises the government through his role on the APPG for BAME business owners.

Dr Imelda McCarthy is a chartered occupational psychologist (HCPC Registered) and Research Fellow based at the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME), Aston University. Imelda works on the ESRC Productivity from Below project, a project that aims to provide a detailed understanding of management and engagement practices and their relationship to productivity in microbusinesses from the catering, creative and retail sector.

Professor Anne Green is Professor of Regional Economic Development in City-REDI (Regional Economic Development Institute) at the University of Birmingham. Her research interests span employment, non-employment, regional and local labour market issues, skills strategies, urban and rural development, migration and commuting, associated policy issues and evaluation.

Katherine Jones is the Knowledge Exchange Fellow for PrOPEL at CREME Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship, Aston University. She is an experienced professional with expertise in business engagement, knowledge exchange, business start-ups, placements, funding, economic development and enterprise development.