Minority-run businesses in Europe contribute more than €570bn to economy despite huge challenges, report says

  • Germany leading the contribution of minority companies, with a turnover of at least 191 billion euros; including COVID-19 vaccine producer BioNTech
  • Report finds ethnic minority entrepreneurs Europe face many challenges including discrimination, lack of contacts, contracts and capital
  • Report authors call on European governments to collect data on the race and ethnicity of their residents to measure progress towards EU Racial Equality Directive

LONDON, September 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Open Political Economy Network (OPEN), a leading think tank focused on migration and diversity, today launched its Minority businesses include: Europe report, commissioned by Minority Supplier Development UK (MSDUK) and the European Supplier Diversity Project (ESDP), which examines the contribution and challenges of ethnic minority entrepreneurs across Europe. The OPEN report uses data from eight European countries (Germany, France, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium and Ireland), and is both the first report to capture this data through Europe and provide the very first list of Europe top 50 minority companies. It follows an earlier report on UK minority businesses by OPEN and MSDUK published in February 2021.

The report, sponsored by Unilever, Meta, IBM and AstraZeneca, found that minority companies have a combined turnover of at least 570 billion euros in Europerepresent at least 4.7% of all businesses (800,000 businesses) and employ at least 2.7 million people. Germany makes the highest contribution (191 billion euros), followed by France (120 billion euros) and the Netherlands (with at least 88 billion euros). The companies include French shipping giant CMA CGM (€47 billion in revenue), German COVID-19 vaccine producer BioNTech (valued at €41 billion) and six unicorns, including BerlinGorillas, an instant grocery delivery service (valued between 2.5 and 3 billion euros), among others.

Among the top 50 minority-owned businesses Europethe majority are founded or owned by entrepreneurs from Turkey(15), as well as India (10), ethnic Arabs (10) and one by a black entrepreneur of African descent. Three are founded or owned by women.

According to the report, entrepreneurs belonging to ethnic minorities Europe face many challenges, including discrimination and lack of contacts, contracts and capital. Quoting the European Commission, the report says nearly three in five people in the EU say discrimination based on ethnic origin or skin color is widespread in their country. The report notes that despite these challenges, many minority-owned businesses are still successful and that minority-owned entrepreneurs tend to have strengths such as a burning will to succeed, determination to overcome the many challenges they face and the resilience to bounce back from setbacks.

In an attempt to mitigate some of these challenges and provide solutions, OPEN offers three recommendations on open data, the fight against discrimination and valuing the diversity of entrepreneurs:

  1. Corporate Transparency: All EU countries should emulate Denmark in the creation of a public register of beneficial owners of companies which can be downloaded free of charge in its entirety.
  2. Fight against discrimination: All EU countries should collect data on the race and ethnicity of their residents, including business owners. Most EU countries – with the exception of Ireland – do not collect data on the ethnic origin of their residents, which makes it difficult to measure progress towards the European directive on racial equality which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race or ethnic origin.
  3. Promote diversity: Public authorities and large companies should pursue inclusive procurement policies that offer equal opportunities to various suppliers. This would address the disconnect from traditional business networks that many minority-owned entrepreneurs Europe face, and thus help them obtain more contacts, contracts and capital.

Philippe LegrainFounder of OPEN and lead author of the reportsaid: “Despite the enormous challenges they face, minority businesses in Europe are leaders in technology, sustainability and healthcare and their contribution to the economy through valuable jobs, wealth and innovation will only grow. While these successes are remarkable, ethnic minority entrepreneurs still do not enjoy equal treatment in European issue clouded by the lack of transparency around ethnicity data and reporting in Europe. It is both smart business and a moral imperative to rise to this challenge and ensure that minority businesses thrive through Europethat is why we have compiled this report as a call to action for European governments and businesses.”

Mayank ShahFounder and CEO of MSDUK and the European Supplier Diversity Project (ESDP) said: “Minority communities and immigrants play an increasingly important role in European societies and this report shows their significant contribution to the economy. The economic inclusion of ethnic minority entrepreneurs would only ensure chains of more resilient, lower-cost and higher-quality supply chains that can tap into new innovations and additional markets, this would also enhance socio-economic equality and justice, which are vital given the current economic uncertainties facing Europe.”

Currently, there are no official data on the overall contribution to the EU of minority entrepreneurs, and therefore the report collected official data on the ethnicity of residents in Europe use an AI-powered algorithm to identify ethnic minority beneficial owners (those who are non-white and of European descent).


ABOUT THE REPORT #MinorityBusinessesMatter

To produce this information, OPEN formed its own estimates using an AI algorithm developed by French data science company Namsor and cross-checked with human expertise and additional research.

Previous reports:

Minority Businesses Matter: The Contribution and Challenges of Ethnic Minority Businesses in the UK

EQUIP Europe: Why an increasingly diversified offer Europe needs EQUality In Procurement for Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurs.


MSDUK promotes greater diversity, inclusion and equal opportunity in public and private sector supply chains. In January, it launched its two-year ESDP pilot project to foster the economic inclusion of ethnic minority entrepreneurs in European supply chains. Learn more here

ABOUT OPEN @open2progress

Open Political Economy Network is an international networking think tank that focuses on migration, diversity and other open issues. Learn more here.


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SOURCE Open Political Network Economy


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