Key business leaders in West Yorkshire joined Mayor Tracy Brabin and NatWest to discuss advancing the growth potential of ethnic minority businesses in the region.
The event brought together business leaders and entrepreneurs in Leeds to launch the ‘Time to Change: A blueprint for advancing the UK’s ethnic minority businesses’ report in the region.
The report, compiled by Aston University’s Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME) in partnership with NatWest, identifies that with the right action, ethnic minority businesses have the potential to bring a £100 billion boost to the UK economy, setting out 10 evidenced-based recommendations to advance their growth potential.
The event focused on how to remove the barriers to enterprise identified in the report that are faced by entrepreneurs from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds when it comes to starting and growing their business.
Barriers highlighted in the report include perceived challenges in accessing finance, with a lack of personal funding at the business start-up stage compounded by a fear of applying for finance and business support because of worries of rejection.
The report also outlines that a lack of trust is cited as a factor in ethnic minority business owners choosing not to seek formal business support, recommending that collaboration at a local level between finance providers, community organisations, ethnic minority-led groups and public sector organisations, is key to breaking down barriers, building a stronger network of support and boosting business survival and growth.
West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin said: “Creating more opportunities for people from all backgrounds to make the most of their skills and talent is vital to the success of West Yorkshire’s economic growth. We know that ethnic minority businesses face real challenges in today’s world of work, and I look forward to seeing the actions from this report lead to positive change.”
Paul Thwaite, Chief Executive Officer of Commercial & Institutional at NatWest, said: “We are really proud to support Aston University’s Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship in the development of the Time to Change report and I’m pleased we have had the opportunity to launch the report in Yorkshire and meet with local business leaders and entrepreneurs.
“As a bank, we recognise that there is no one-size fits all approach for supporting ethnic minority-owned businesses and our ongoing partnerships with Yorkshire organisations such as Northern Asian Power recognise that local knowledge is key to providing the right support at the right time. As demonstrated so clearly today, it is only by working together at a local level that we can support ethnic minority business owners to achieve their full potential and thrive.”
Attendees also heard from Professor Monder Ram, director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School on how a more inclusive approach to enterprise is key to tackling wider social structural barriers such as unequal access to employment opportunities and gender and ethnicity pay gaps.
Professor Ram said: “I’m delighted that Mayor Tracey Brabin has joined so many others in endorsing the recommendations in CREME’s report to develop a transformational agenda to support the UK’s ethnic minority entrepreneurs. We have a great opportunity to work together to secure a £100 billion boost to the economy by supporting black and ethnic minority entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.”
NatWest has committed to channelling 20% of business support to ethnic minority businesses. In 2022, 34% of businesses supported by the bank’s Accelerator business building programme were from ethnic minority backgrounds.
Leeds is home to one of thirteen NatWest Accelerator hubs, which support and empowers UK entrepreneurs to scale their businesses to the next level, helping businesses gain the knowledge and skills to excel in a range of business areas.