StartUp Britain: good for BME business

David Cameron words of encouragement and backing of business start up initiatives should inspire our communities to think outside the box says OBV graduate and Conservative Party member Sylbourne Sydial.

Black African-owned firms are more than four times as likely as white-owned firms to be denied a loan outright. Entrepreneurs from African-Caribbean backgrounds have the lowest rate of access to bank finance at start-up, despite their owners being more likely to have formal management qualifications; all this essentially means that 35% of Black-owned firms report that their biggest problem at start-up is finding finance.

Facing these severe disadvantages, the coalition government must seek to introduce initiatives to encourage people within these communities to start up their own businesses.

In these tough economic times where many public sector workers are been made redundant, where many students are leaving university without there being enough jobs to go around and when mothers are being denied flexible working hours we await government plans for how these will be managed.

In the meantime, David Cameron’s support for the Tenner Tycoon school enterprise scheme backed by Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Peter Jones provides some inspiration for the younger generation of 16-18-year-olds.

The Tenner Tycoon initiative which encourages a culture of entrepreneurship among young people has captured the imagination of thousands across the UK. The scheme saw up to 40,000 schoolchildren given the opportunity to borrow £10 to ‘make money, make a difference, and give back’.

The Prime Minister’s backing of Start Up Britain – a private-sector led initiative aimed at helping people set up businesses this week is also encouraging.

Speaking about the scheme David Cameron made these very profound points: “If you’ve been turning over a good idea for years – now is the time to make something of it. If you’re working for a big firm but knows you could do a better job on your own – now is the time to make the leap. If you’re dreaming about starting up the next great British brand – now is the time to make it happen.”

I posted the Prime Minister’s words on facebook without naming the source and received the following response: “But over the last two years, I have done exactly what you have advised in the narrative and it was absolutely great. Would definitely recommend….would definitely second the advice in your narrative“.

That proved to me that with a positive attitude Britain is indeed open for business and there could be a spring in the thinking entrepreneurs step, even amidst this time of austerity.

For many years there has been a sharp decline in the numbers of BME start ups so the Start Up Britain initiative is welcomed. Let’s hope that this initiative is taken up by many in our community. After all, owning your own business and being your own boss is important for our community, it is an ideal way to pass on your skills and customs to the next generation and to economically grow the community.

It’s well documented how tough it is to obtain credit from the banks within the critical two years of starting up a business. The government has addressed this potential setback by announcing in last week’s budget the introduction of tax relief for small business and creating 21 enterprise zones offering tax breaks.

The government has also removed red tape and is providing high speed broadband for small businesses to help them grow. Supported by leading companies it is worth more than £1,500 for every start-up business in Britain. The package includes help with services and marketing, broadband, finance and mentoring support.

The list seems endless and I am ever confident that it will grow as more business get involved in areas of apprenticeship and mentoring.

My advice during this time of economic meltdown and spending cuts is that we should encourage each other to think outside of the box. It is highly unlikely that it is ever going to be business as usual. This therefoe, could be the fuel that is required to boost the UK, creating and inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs.

Sylbourne Sydial is a Children and Family Lawyer, Founder and Executive Chair of lobby group and think tank Facilitators for a Better Jamaica (FFBJ). He stood as a Conservative Party candidate in the 2010 Lewisham local council elections. You can follow him on Twitter, find out more about him via his website and Facebook.


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