Black Pound Day Motors On With A Clear Goal In Mind

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Though it may have gone under the radar, last week marked another landmark in Black British entrepreneurship. Black Pound Day will have been marked down in the business calendar of a fair few, after it's launch on June 27. The Guardian reports that the event which was founded by So Solid Crew's Swiss, had helped to raise more than £100,000 in its first outing, and with efforts to widen the reach of the awareness of the day there is potential for this figure to continue to grow in the long run. That the event is held on the first Saturday of every month hints at its aim to offer a persistent and long term challenge to what its founder had seen as the persistent and long term obstructions to the growth of black business within the UK.

This is one of the more significant cornerstones of the initiative because it aims to help address the consequences of (rather than directly rectify) an already legitimate problem, which has been further aggravated by this year's pandemic.

The Black Pound day website lists a joint survey conducted by 'Extended Ventures' and 'Your Startup Your Story' (YSYS). It highlights the profound impact of COVID-19 on BAME-led businesses in particular, as it noted that '48% of respondents stated that they did not access or expect to qualify for any government support scheme.' Now, while it's only correct to state that BAME is not interchangeable with black, it does offer a broad depiction of where minority business owners (black business owners included) may be coming unstuck.

They also highlight further evidence regarding the restricted access to venture capital funding for black businesses. They state:

"The Department for Communities and Local Government suggests that ethnic minority business owners are more likely to have their loan applications rejected than their white counterparts and it is also said that less than 1% of venture capital funding goes to black founders."

"The goal here is to underpin long-term financial growth and infrastructure, empowering and motivating the Black community"

That these issues are receiving greater coverage is a source of great encouragement, but why this campaign, and why now?

Well the why is clear. They state that it serves as 'a direct and peaceful response to the systematic racism that creates inequality for the Black community in the United Kingdom.' The goal here is to underpin 'long-term financial growth and infrastructure, empowering and motivating the Black community.' It is the belief of its founder that by encouraging spending within black communities, the impact of these less beneficiary forces can, over time be somewhat alleviated.

This is a crucial component in understanding the purpose of Black Pound Day. On its own, it may not be possible for it to overturn systemic obstacles to black business growth, and truthfully, so is expecting it to account for the full cost of those obstacles however it is measured. Though it is only the beginning of the road and its impact will surely grow, £100,000 will only attend to so many businesses, but it's very existence helps to add legitimacy and a tangible solution to a problem that affects many.

As to why this year was chosen for its launch, there are two reasons. Firstly, to mark the 72nd anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush generation (hence June 27, for it's launch).

Secondly, the inspiration for the initiative is also tied to finding positive solutions after a summer of protests and the global awakening that was the black lives matter movement. Swiss shared his desire to “somehow repurpose that energy into a positive outcome”, with Black Pound Day being the ‘result of that motivation.’

The June 27 launch coincided with the peak of the black lives matter protests.

This is likely why the initiative has received such positive feedback, because the openness and honesty of it aims touch upon a matter which is easily identifiable across the black community. Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of the marketing around Black Pound Day is that as well as seeking to encourage spending on black owned business, it has also acted as a platform by showcasing several black owned businesses across a number of industries. The increased awareness promotes interest and in doing so is able to generate a new stream of customers for businesses whose market may have previously only been those that passed by on the local high street. Now, many are experiencing the benefits of the increased online and in some cases national coverage, afforded to them by the continued work around Black Pound Day.

This in itself forms part of the broader importance of visibility and the opportunities in which it affords. In an accompanying fundraiser to facilitate the growth of these businesses, they argue:

“Businesses run by Black and minority ethnic groups contribute between £25 – 32 Billion to the British economy every year, yet Black entrepreneurs are more than twice as likely to be denied a loan than white entrepreneurs, blighting their visibility and access to market. Black businesses are amongst the least visible on the high street and on the major search engines in the UK and Black women are projected to be the least funded business group.”

But crucially, beyond visibility for existing businesses is the need for visibility for the next generation of black youth and the need for this to be on their doorsteps. There is not a price which can be placed on having tangible examples within one’s household on how to navigate what can be the ruthless world of business ownership and all the pitfalls that come with it.

Swiss, the founder of Black Pound Day, described it as being a "solution-based community-empowering campaign" which will "leave a better infrastructure for the next generation to walk into." In creating the Black Pound Day initiative at a time when so many will have been crying out for additional assistance, his endeavour is all the more commendable.


Mayowa Ayodele

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