Britain is a country that has gained a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience from the diversity of cultural backgrounds and its international reputation. As the recent debate between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage on immigration demonstrates, this heritage is often maligned and the incredible opportunities it affords us are wasted.
Last month, the Centre for Entrepreneurs and DueDil revealed that close to half a million people from over 150 countries have launched businesses after settling down in our nation and, unsurprisingly, it rekindled the debate about immigrants' contributions to the economy.
Immigration has become an issue many politicians keenly avoid for fear of either being accused of racism or alienating supporters. Previous political parties have created a faulty, piecemeal system that's partly to blame for the flawed perceptions that migrant workers are uneducated and have come for low-paid, menial work. In reality, motivated, informed migrants arrive every year with new ideas, fantastic business strategies and valuable insight into what the rest of the world wants.
The issue of immigration is extremely complex; however, this report unveiled a vital aspect of our economy that must be shouted from the rooftops. Business-minded, globally aware immigrants could be the competitive edge the UK is urgently searching for.
When small businesses are looking to grow internationally, they face the difficulty of understanding the markets into which they hope to expand. Instead of scratching their heads about it, British businesses ought to be tapping into the unparalleled insight that people from these exact markets can provide.
The importance of British businesses having an international reach cannot be overstated. It not only helps build up a more interesting identity for a business, but it drives crucial revenue and increases credibility within its industry.
We should not forget the enormous value that Brand Britain holds around the world. Britain's current reputation in the international marketplace is excellent and represents a country with excellent opportunities, clearly demonstrated by the stream of people who want to move here. We have products and services that people across the globe are willing to pay a premium for - and we should make the most of this unique opportunity.
Britain has always been made of an array of nationalities and a welcoming immigration policy would hugely benefit the nation's commercial interests. Our economic growth partly depends on a growing population, so a controlled inflow of migrants may be just the ticket to sustain a healthy UK economy.
The impact that migrant-founded businesses have on UK job creation cannot be ignored. These firms employ 1.16 million people and are responsible for a staggering 14% of total SME job creation. We ignore these figures, and this opportunity, to our cost.
I applaud the ambitious immigrants who come to the UK, start new businesses, create jobs for others and positively contribute to our economy. This could be our nation's unique selling point if harnessed correctly.
Our economy is finally on the path to growth, but there's still work to be done. For small and medium-sized businesses to make a bigger and better impact to our nation's fiscal future, we need to develop and accelerate their progression. Attracting, rather than deterring, more migrant entrepreneurs to the British economy could be the key to unlocking our potential.