An insight into the challenges for BAME owned businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic

The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) conducted a ‘listening exercise’ with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Business owners and trade associations across the country, during the summer of 2020. The purpose of this exercise was to obtain insight from businesses at grass root level, of the challenges for BAME owned businesses during the COVID pandemic.

The report entitled ‘The BAME Business Owners COVID-19 Response: Voices from the Grass Roots1’ was written by Diana Chrouch, (Special Advisor to the APPG and FSB BAME Business Lead), against the backdrop of the global impact of “Black Lives Matter” - and highlights the structural inequalities in the small business ecosystem, exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. The estimated contribution to the British economy from BAME businesses is in the region of £25-32b each year, (Unlocking Opportunity Report: - CREME/ERC/FSB2). However when it came to accessing government funding for BAME business owners, a poll revealed that 68% of BAME business owners were unable to access funding.  The impact of these inequalities identified clear gaps in the government’s measures to adequately address the emergency needs of BAME business owners during this period.

Midlands Business Leadership Academy, examined the delivery of its SFEDI (Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative) accredited qualifications, in a need to ensure that its assessment methods and delivery reflected inclusive business support is demonstrated in meeting the needs of all BAME Business owners.

Sue Bedward, Founder and Director of MBL Academy, added “As a black female-owned business, MBL Academy really understood some of the challenges highlighted and wanted to take action now to ensure equality and inclusivity is embedded in all aspects of business & enterprise support.  We want to encourage Business Support Professionals across all sectors to reach out to diverse businesses and proactively engage with them and demonstrate inclusivity in their professional practice as part of the assessment and accreditation process.  This could be in relation to offering businesses support, advice, mentoring, coaching or consultancy.  The report highlighted some real issues and the challenges exacerbated by the pandemic on BAME business owners”.

MBL Academy is working with SFEDI and the IoEE, to address some of the identified barriers BAME Business owners have expressed in accessing the wider pool of business support services and manage some of the inconsistencies in accessing information, signposts, advice and guidance across the business support sector, whilst raising the occupational standard and sharing of best practice across the business and enterprise industry.

MBL Academy will launch a 12 month pilot initiative, working in collaboration with business support professional services to address the findings from the APPG report and implement the recommendations to Government within the Business Support sector.  We would encourage Business Support Professionals to contact us if they would like to take part in the pilot study and receive recognition as an inclusive business support provider.

Our aim is to  ensure the inclusion and diverse needs of ALL businesses are embedded in the high-quality standard of delivering a Government recognised business support qualifications.

1The BAME Business Owners COVID-19 Response: Voices from the Grass Roots’

2Unlocking Opportunity: The value of ethnic minority firms to the UK economic activity and enterprise.

Written by: Sue Bedward

Contact Details:- Sue Bedward - MBL Academy

Email: [email protected]

Contact Number: 0121 663 0112