Supporting entrepreneurship in deprived communities: a vision too far?

Nick Williams (Centre for Regional Economic and Enterprise Development, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK)
Robert Huggins (Cardiff University, Cardiff, UK)

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development

ISSN: 1462-6004

Publication date: 15 February 2013



Government intervention has increasingly identified deprived communities as a key focus for enterprise support. The purpose of this paper is to examine attitudes and perceptions to enterprise support in a deprived community in the UK city of Leeds.


A survey of 142 entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs, and 18 follow‐up in‐depth interviews with entrepreneurs, were conducted with people living in the study area. The survey examined the entrepreneurial activity of members of the community, and usage of enterprise support.


The paper finds that certain forms of enterprise support in deprived communities may actually discourage entrepreneurship. Also, where entrepreneurial ventures are supported they tend to operate in activities relating to generic trades with low entry barriers, with many enterprises having little actual or perceived requirement for external support, with it being likely that these would have been established with or without support.

Research limitations/implications

A potential limitation of the study is that it is restricted to a case study of deprived communities in one particular city.

Practical implications

Increased investment in the supply of enterprise support may not lead to increased levels of entrepreneurship, with support that aims to engage with people who have never considered starting a business, or do not have the skills required to launch and grow a venture, is unlikely to be cost‐effective given their low growth potential.


The results of the research are potentially applicable to other deprived communities, and provide lessons for policy relating to the promotion of entrepreneurship.



Williams, N. and Huggins, R. (2013), "Supporting entrepreneurship in deprived communities: a vision too far?", Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, Vol. 20 No. 1, pp. 165-180.

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