ARU Peterborough's assistant principal joins Government-backed campaign to help disabled entrepreneurs
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A veteran of Peterborough university’s management team has been appointed to a Government-backed review to break down barriers faced by entrepreneurs with disabilities.
Dr Tom Williamson, assistant principal of ARU Peterborough, has been appointed to the Lilac Review Steering Board which will create an action plan to sweep away challenges facing business leaders with disabilities such as higher start-up costs, difficulties accessing funding and support, as well as a lack of credit by the wider society.
The Lilac Review Steering Board is jointly chaired by Victoria Jenkins, chief executive and founder of adaptive fashion brand Unhidden, the Minister for Small Business, Kevin Hollinrake MP and the Minister for Disabled People, Mims Davies MP.
It was set up after research discovered that disabled entrepreneurs currently account for about a quarter of the nation’s 5.5 million small business owners yet represent only 8.6 per cent of total small business turnover.
Campaign group Small Business Britain estimates that levelling up opportunities for these businesses could unlock an additional £230 billion in business turnover.
Dr Williamson, who is responsible for ARU Peterborough’s Faculty of Business, Innovation and Entrepreneurship and is also a small business owner with research interests listed as enterprise and entrepreneurship, regional development and innovation, said: “It is a privilege to be invited to join the Steering Board of this vitally important project.
"It is clear that disabled-led businesses across the UK face a variety of challenges that are preventing many from reaching their full potential.
"A key part of ARU Peterborough’s mission is levelling up and helping to maximise the benefits of entrepreneurship on communities, and this review aligns with our goals.”
The need for the Lilac Review was highlighted by the ‘Disability and Entrepreneurship report’, launched by Small Business Britain in March 2023 in partnership with Lloyds Bank.
While 35 per cent of founders said their disability has positively impacted them as an entrepreneur, over half said they had no external support when starting up, 72 per cent lacked appropriate role models to guide them and 55 per cent received no financial support.
Joining ARU Peterborough on the Lilac Review Steering Board are companies including BT, eBay and Lloyds Bank and businesses organisations including Federation of Small Business and British Chambers of Commerce, as well as a number of disabled founders