New initiative to support Black business

IN A bid to raise awareness about the challenges confronted by Black business owners and entrepreneurs when it comes to securing financial funding, a groundbreaking initiative called the ‘Black Pound’ has been unveiled.

Recent research conducted by Wray & Nephew has revealed that almost a third (29 per cent) of Black business owners have encountered difficulties in raising funds, with one in eight (13 per cent) being twice as likely to wait up to two years for a business loan compared to their non-Black counterparts.

This timely release of the ‘Black Pound’ coincides with the launch of Wray & Nephew’s highly acclaimed Wray Forward program, which is now accepting applications for its second year.

In collaboration with Foundervine, a social enterprise dedicated to supporting Black businesses, this program provides Black entrepreneurs with invaluable access to a range of free workshops and masterclasses specifically tailored to help them scale up their ventures, expand their networks, and explore new avenues of opportunity.

The creation of the distinctive ‘Black Pound’ coin has been made possible through a partnership between Black Pound Day, the largest Black-led economic movement in the history of the UK, and Wray & Nephew, a renowned Jamaican rum brand.

These two entities share a common objective: to boost consumer spending and foster greater overall support for Black-owned enterprises. The ‘Black Pound’ coin is envisioned as a daily reminder in people’s wallets, urging them to shop at and patronise Black businesses.

Although the limited-edition coin is not considered legal tender, it will be made available at no cost to consumers who demonstrate their support at Black Pound Day’s two Westfield stores, which proudly showcase a curated collection of over 150 Black businesses.

One in eight (13%) are twice as likely to have to wait up to two years for a business loan compared to non-Black business owners

Notably, Black Pound Day has successfully elevated the visibility of more than 1,500 British Black-owned businesses through its comprehensive directory and marketplace, including those participating in the Wray Forward program.

Designed in collaboration with Jamaican-British designer Leah Jacobs-Gordon, the ‘Black Pound’ features a captivating illustration inspired by various facets of the diverse Black British community and its rich cultural heritage, incorporating elements such as country flags from around the world.

Beginning on (today) Wednesday July 5, customers who make any purchase from Black Pound Day’s Westfield Stratford and Westfield White City stores will receive one of these limited-edition coins, regardless of the product’s price.

This exclusive offer is only available in-store, and is capped at one coin per person.

The launch of the ‘Black Pound’ initiative marks an important milestone in recognising the unique challenges faced by Black business owners and entrepreneurs in the UK.

Founder of Black Pound Day, Swiss, commented: “Whilst we started Black Pound Day in 2020, I initially had the idea in 2007, but ironically couldn’t get it off the ground due to a lack of resources available to Black-owned businesses.

“Since launching three years ago, we have exponentially raised the awareness of spending with Black businesses, and our two premium retail locations allow thousands of conscious and ethical consumers to access a unique and broad range of underrepresented brands.

“As well as encouraging consumers to buy from established Black businesses, we have grown our organisation to support aspiring and existing business owners. So this month, we launched our first charity, BPD Global, which will offer tools and resources to the African Caribbean community to start their own business and gain financial independence.

“This launch, alongside partnering on this campaign with the Wray Forward programme, which offers founders access to free workshops to scale up and expand their networks, will greatly benefit and inspire the Black business community.”

As almost seven in ten (68 per cent) Black entrepreneurs revealed there are not enough business tools and resources available to Black entrepreneurs, and three-quarters (76 per cent) state they would have found business success much quicker if these tools had been offered, the Wray Forward programme is proud to break down barriers to these invaluable tools and networking opportunities.

Alongside a lack of materials and resources, the study also revealed the funding disadvantages Black business owners suffer.

They are twice as likely (13 per cent) to have to wait up to two years for a business loan compared to non-Black business owners (6 per cent) – with Black female entrepreneurs forced to hold out the longest for a business loan, with the average wait being seven months.

Wray & Nephew’s study on the disparity of British business owners highlighted that over half of Black entrepreneurs (56 per cent) launch their businesses with personal savings, whilst a fifth of Non-Black entrepreneurs start-up with family and friends gifted capital (20 per cent).

A third of Black business owners said they’ve struggled to find necessary funding or loans required for their business, ultimately resulting in Black entrepreneurs struggling to get business ideas off the ground, or to the next phase of growth.

Chris Dennis, Wray & Nephew Brand Ambassador, said: “We wanted to create a physical icon with the team at Black Pound Day to help put Black business spending on consumers’ radars, and encourage more people to support the incredible products and services provided by the varied and exciting business community.

“As a brand which sits at the heart of the African – Caribbean community, representing a unique, cross-generational icon within Black British culture, it is so important for us to support the entrepreneurial nature of this community.

“Through the Wray Forward programme we hope to inspire and facilitate the next wave of Black businesses to find success, and continue year on year to build on the 1365 Black business founders we supported in our first year.”

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