ESRC Honors Aston University’s CREME for Outstanding Business Impact

ESRC Celebrating Impact logo

The Celebrating Impact competition recognizes and rewards researchers who have achieved impact through outstanding research, knowledge exchange activities, collaborative partnerships, and engagement with different communities – and who received funding from Britain’s Economic and Social Research Council.

Since it was established nine years ago, the Celebrating Impact Prize has highlighted and recognized some of the ways in which ESRC-funded research impacts the economy and society. This year’s awards especially reflect contributions being made by the social sciences to helping communities and businesses navigate the challenges facing us including recovery from the global pandemic is critical to not only the UK but also globally.

All winners and finalists have demonstrated the impact of their work and illustrated its relevance and importance to society. They are already contributing to policy debates in their specialist areas and their influence will continue in years to come. 

This year’s prize categories are Outstanding Early Career Impact; Outstanding Business and Enterprise Impact; Outstanding International Impact; Outstanding Public Policy Impact; and Outstanding Societal Impact. Below we highlight the Outstanding Business and Enterprise Impact winners. Check back for future blog posts focusing on the other prize categories. 


Monder Ram OBE is the director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship at Aston University.

Outstanding Business and Enterprise Impact 

The Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CRÈME) won the Outstanding Business and Enterprise Impact Award from the ESRC Celebrating Impact Prize 2021.

The UK’s 250,000 ethnic minority businesses contribute more than £25 billion to the economy. Ninety percent of these firms are microbusinesses with one to nine employees. In 2019 an ESRC-funded research collaboration led by professor Monder Ram of Aston University and Dr. Imelda McCarthy, both from CREME, explored productivity in a sector where management processes are frequently informal and business support or HR interventions are often absent. 

Productivity from Below is an ESRC-funded collaboration between researchers, business, and civil society partners. It has enhanced productivity among ethnic minority microbusinesses, ensured they accessed the right funding and support during the pandemic. It has helped organizations like Ashley Community Housing, Punch Records, and Citizens UK secure as a combined value over £3 million of funding to support more than 1,000 female and migrant entrepreneurs. 

Some other impacts that Productivity from Below has had are: 

  • Supported Bangladeshi caterers to use social media as a new business model to increase takeaway trade during the COVID-19 pandemic.  
  • Established a peer support and leadership development program, ‘The P Word’, providing urgent commercial guidance to microbusinesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • Built the future capacity of practitioner partners and participating firms to support local businesses through £500,000 of additional funding for four PhD students to research the implementation of Productivity from Below initiatives 

Learn more about Ram’s research, CRÈME, and Productivity from Below here: 

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Hailey Lanford

Hailey Lanford is a senior at The George Washington University, studying English and linguistics. She is a SAGE global communications intern, Virginia Young Poets in the Community fellow, and enjoys exploring Washington, D.C.

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