Ultimo founder Michelle Mone is to visit disadvantaged areas across the UK to identify the barriers that people are facing when it comes to starting a business
Few stories are as inspiring as that of Michelle Mone. Growing up in Glasgow's deprived east end, Mone had to make do with sleeping in a broom cupboard for a large part of her childhood. However, after leaving school at 15 and having her first child at 18, she has gone on to become one of Britain's most successful entrepreneurs, having grown Ultimo into a world-renowned lingerie brand. And, as has been well-documented, she's taken some serious knocks along the way.
As such, it's quite fitting that Mone has been appointed by the government to conduct an independent review into encouraging entrepreneurship in disadvantaged communities. The Ultimo founder will travel the length and breadth of the UK visiting areas of high deprivation – including those with entrenched unemployment and lower education levels – to identify the obstacles that people face when it comes to starting a business. The review will have a particular focus on disadvantaged groups including benefit claimants, women, young and disabled people and ex-offenders.
Mone has also been asked to draw on her own experience of setting up and running a successful business as part of the review, which will make recommendations to work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith and business secretary Sajid Javid in 2016.
"It is an honour to be appointed to lead this review because I know how tough it can be setting up your own business," she said. "A truly modern and successful economy needs to be able to unleash the entrepreneurial energy of skills of everyone in society. It cannot tolerate a situation where people are held back from achieving dreams of working for themselves and creating jobs for others, simply because of where they are from, because they have had a really tough time growing up or because they are a lone parent."
Smith said: "I am delighted Michelle has agreed to lead this review. There’s no-one I can think of who is better qualified to help young entrepreneurs from deprived backgrounds to turn a good idea into a flourishing business. We used to be known as a nation of shopkeepers. I want Michelle to report back to me on how we can encourage people of all backgrounds to take up this entrepreneurial spirit."
We look forward to hearing Mone's recommendations next year.