Back in 2008, despite my educational attainments and raw love for that beautiful raw Council Estate sounds, I did not have a penny to my name. The world seemed bi-polar as the global superpower, ironically called the United States of America had its first Black President and the ironically named United Kingdom was singing Conservative Blue hymns of social change. Yet the global depression was slipping black youths on both sides of the pond into record levels of youth unemployment amongst black people. Fortunately for myself a friend owned a jacket potato stand in Camden kindly offered me an opportunity to work. It gave me a priceless insight into entrepreneurship on many levels. More importantly it prevented me from slipping through the net. Watching a generation of graduates who were initially so happy to go university, end up back on the roads after graduating is truly one of the most depressing legacies of this last decade, which consequently had a domino effect on following generation.
So seeing black business owners from innovators like Jamal Edwards, Tandy Anderson, Samata Angel, Alexis Oladipo and Tunde Okewale MBE doesn’t merely serve as a vanity exercise but acts a source of inspiration for those that feel its unattainable. Learning about business men like Ignatius Sancho from the 18th century, teaches children that black entrepreneurs helped contribute to building this nation during the industrial revolution and they weren’t here merely as slaves. This all feeds into the psyche of a part of the supply side of the UK economy as a opposed to merely being a confused consumer.
“Ethnic minority businesses contribute in the region of £40bn to the UK economy. However government research shows that while almost a third of black people in England want to start their own business, only 4% actually manage to do so – a level lower than any other ethnic group” Source Guardian
Women such as Octavia Goredema MBE and Charlene Laidley are trying to vocalise the issues and change the future landscape for future entrepreneurs so the quote above becomes redundant. Yet the reality of the matter that quote is 3 years old but many of us today would still struggle to think of 3 successful businesses owned by black women, outside the realm of entertainment most would struggle to do so for men as well.
I admire business leaders such as Karen Blackett but as the winds of gentrification blow ever stronger, communities with strong local businesses will anchor and help them maintain their cultural identity and take advantage of positive government improvements to their local area. Winds can cause either further dispersal and fragmentation or it could create power if harnessed right.
So as mentioned in the “From Brexit to Hardstop” article, last year highlighted 40% of the under 18 prison population was made up of Black and Ethnic minorities and a 50% rise in long term youth unemployment amongst ethnic minorities since 2010. I do not think this is a correlation with black representation of owned businesses. I am not a fan of positive discrimination as I do feel the best person should be employed for the job, plus it does not address the root issue. Black Owned businesses no matter how small, will contribute to provide an infrastructure to lighten the strain of youth unemployment on local economies.
This in many respects signifies why Black Business Matter and we need support to support the UK Black Owned Business directory