On Wednesday 26th July, BSWN hosted nearly 50 attendees at our quarterly meeting of the Black and Asian Business Network, this time at the lovely Junction at the Engine Shed.
As stemming from the research BSWN conducted in Summer 2018, the barriers to accessing finance for the BAME business community were understood to revolve around three core themes:
1) discrimination within the financial service sector;
2) lack of knowledge about financing options;
3) lack of capacity to prepare for investment.
The theme for the meeting therefore focused around Access to Finance for BAME Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprises in order to encourage conversation around the possibilities stemming from the current barriers.
The event was chaired by Bobbi O’Gilvie, Ready to Blog, who greeted all attending and Sado Jirde, our Director, who shared some updates within the sector and on the development of the Enterprise hub that several of the attendees contributed to at the consultation stage.
Key note speaker Lord-Lieutenant Peaches Golding spoke of her experience from many start ups and aspiring entrepreneurs who face the same barriers around finance that our research identified. Oftentimes entrepreneurs and businesses find themselves in a difficult position when it comes to accessing support with their finance and make the wrong decisions around collateral. Peaches wrapped up her key note speech with a word of advise to all attendees: “Whatever you do, do not put your house as collateral. Protect yourself and your well-being.”
Guest speaker Donna Thomas from Resonance added that what she found inspirational about the work of BSWN is that “having a hub for a financial advisor and organising events like this one will better aid the flow of access to finance,”.
Donna then joined a panel for discussion around the key theme, responding to some of the findings from BSWN’s research as highlighted above. The key points of discussion included:
Discrimination is a very multilayered concept to talk about - one of the issues is perception on the lack of understanding of what is available and the other is a lack of knowledge
The initial challenge is knowing what people need to know to be successful
Do your research on local banks and the projects they get involved with when seeking grants and sponsorship
Following a Q&A session with the audience, five attendees were invited to step forward and do a 60 second pitch about themselves, their business aim and an ask - what they would like the other members of the network to help them with if possible. This allowed the members to get to know each other better, practice their pitching skills, as well as share some of the skills within the network to provide peer support.
The BSWN Team looks forward to hosting the next network meeting in September 2019, with the meeting theme and speaker line up to be announced shortly.