Minimising barriers to business

The Charter for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, an initiative by Dr Lorna Treanor, was launched nationally in October at the Shard in London. The Charter aims to minimise barriers to entrepreneurship for underserved and under-represented groups through creation of a more inclusive ecosystem.


Dr Lorna Treanor, Associate Professor in Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Nottingham University Business School, has developed a Charter for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, which provides a framework for developing an inclusive ecosystem in the UK through five core principles:

  • Promoting diverse role models across the enterprise ecosystem
  • Delivering inclusive enterprise support
  • Enabling lifelong learning of entrepreneurship education
  • Ensuring equal access to enterprise finance
  • Implementing measurable targets for inclusive enterprise policy and procurement Practices.

"The current enterprise environment in the UK does not provide sufficient, fair and productive access to entrepreneurship for all", explained Lorna. “Social groups, such as women, ethnic minorities, young people, and people experiencing disabilities, face distinctive barriers to entrepreneurship, with equitable access to finance being one such issue."

Less than 1p of every £1 invested in the UK in 2017 was invested in all women-owned businesses; Black women face even greater barriers when trying to access such finance, receiving only 0.02p per £1 of total investment finance over a ten-year period in the UK.
Dr Lorna Treanor

So how can you help?

An ecosystem approach is a concept that recognises that members of any system must work with and around each other to keep the system stable, optimising conditions for sustained success towards a common goal. And just like in the natural world, a balanced ecosystem can form the conditions that allows everyone to thrive.

The Charter is all about creating a supportive business network across the country, that means anyone is able to start a successful and sustainable business, regardless of their personal characteristics or background. Signatories to the Charter will do things like committing to recruit diverse workforces, ensuring staff receive full EDI training, and promote the principles of the Charter throughout their supply chain.

"Taking an ecosystem approach is so important because barriers to enterprise begin with barriers to employment, education and training; for entrepreneurs there may be barriers to accessing finance or gender/race/disability-aware support and advice. So everyone has a role to play."


The Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship, the Neurodiversity and Entrepreneurship Association, Black Business Network UK, and the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurs are some of the first signatories to the Charter, demonstrating their commitment to ensuring appropriate and equitable support is available to anyone who wants to start or grow a business.

Lorna urges any alumni businesses who are passionate about creating an open and inclusive business environment in the UK to get involved - and even those who just want to see the economy going in the right direction.

"An inclusive ecosystem would not only contribute to social justice outcomes but also improve the economy and national productivity. To create an inclusive ecosystem, all actors across private, public and third sector organisations should become a Charter signatory and commit to engaging in and/or improving their inclusive recruitment and procurement practices and service delivery. Working together in partnership we can learn from each other and build a stronger society and economy.”

Add your voice 

Show your support for a more inclusive business environment in the UK: Become a signatory of the Charter