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Black businesses contribute significantly to the Midlands economy (£25 billion to the UK Economy) and have been severely hit by COVID-19. Community businesses have had to cease operation which has also been exacerbated by disproportionate risks of infection of coronavirus to the health of members of the black community. A recent report (Oct 2020) by the British Business Bank, entitled Alone Together, identified that 1:5 ex black business owners closed their businesses due to a lack of finance and 4 out 5 black owned businesses have outrightly been refused a loan compared to white owned businesses. The report also identified that 28% of black owned businesses reported making no profit V’s 16% of white owned businesses. Even more disconcerting is that over ⅓ of black and asian female business owners made no profit at all compared to a 15% profit by their white counterparts.
Financial support from the government has been made available, however in a poll conducted by the APPG BAME COVID-19 Report – 68% of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic business owners had been unsuccessful in accessing Government funding allocated in response to the coronavirus 1st lockdown. Applications were low from the black community due to lack of communication/online and more so offline information, lack of trust, knowledge or access to professional business support. Statistics have also reported that black owned businesses are less likely to be approved for commercial loans. This significantly impacts the working capital options available to black owned businesses in comparison to other indiginous business owners who may access funds readily available to them. It also undermines the Governments equalities agenda. The BPP intends to act now, in dismantling these systemic barriers which are preventing black owned businesses from operating in a safe and fair economy.
The Black Pounds Project is a Community Interest Company (CIC) that was created in direct response to the growing number of Black and Minority Ethnic business owners failing due to a lack of business acumen, that included a range of business leadership skills, such as; due diligence, communication strategies, marketing, access to finance to name a few. Whilst there are a number of mainstream support services established, a number of reports have identified a lack of engagement to these organisations by black owned businesses.
The reasons cited have ranged from services not being tailored to their needs and that traditional business support organisations did not offer a culturally responsive service in addressing the challenges they faced as a black owned business. These may include a lack of Cultural awareness; a lack of understanding or engagement with cultural business services, consumers and the diversity of target market groups. We have long identified and confirmed through a number of conducted reports there the disparities in outcomes for black owned businesses is disproportionate compared to white owned businesses. This fact has been exacerbated by COVID-19 and even further still, by the Black Lives Matter Movement. The purpose of establishing the BPP is to identify black owned pre-start ups that aspire to create a sustainable business enterprise, and to engage, guide and support them in the governance requirements of starting a business.
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