no shying away
For us as a bank, the task is a huge one and it’s not something we can solve easily or on our own. That said, since launching the report in May, we’re seeing greater engagement with ethnic minority entrepreneurs, building trust and being present in their journey. Our accelerator projects, which have been running for a number of years now, have been particularly successful.
However, as recognised by Time to Change, we know ethnic minorities still struggle with access to finance, language barriers, migration issues, mentoring, grants, partnerships, and the strong financial eco-system which is so often crucial to start up success and continued growth. We still have a way to go to be seen as an organisation that is there to help communities – that’s a challenge and an opportunity.
Black History Month is the right time to recognise this. Within finance, government and society, so much of this is about a difficult history of building trust. We’ve created digital bridges for minority entrepreneurs but being active on the ground, in branches and in communities will count too – this is about self-realisation for all parties. Today, we can build the right relationships to be authentic and sustainable business partners for the future.
a difference on all levels
This matters to me on a personal level because the bank backed my proposal for the Time to Change report back in 2020. It’s affirming that corporates are realising the power and the responsibility they have on every level – something we also saw with the Rose Review of Female Entrepreneurship back in 2019. Whilst I was the Business Inclusion Programme Manager, I was incredibly well supported internally across the group and was able to bring together key internal and external stakeholders including banks and members of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Ethnic Minority Business Owners.
These stakeholders enabled us to validate the report’s findings and give it a clear route to being applied in the real world. Our work together has given a vision for increasing the current contribution ethnic minority business make from £25 billion to £100 billion to the UK economy. While also creating real dividends to minority and disadvantaged communities where this investment can have a huge difference.
However, as Time To Change makes clear, there is still so much to do. There is clear value in diversity of enterprise but systemic barriers remain within finance and beyond. To break these and empower genuine social prosperity we’ll need real leadership. In every sense, we’re a key stakeholder in this.
An economy experiences ‘stagflation’ when growth is stagnant and inflation is high. It’s an unwanted situation because money is losing value while investments into assets such as shares in companies aren’t making returns because there is such low, or even negative, economic growth.
Stagflation became financially synonymous with the difficulties the UK and other economies faced in the 1970s. The oil producing organisation OPEC embargoed oil exports to many western nations, pushing up oil and energy prices dramatically. The rise in the cost of living, fuelled in part by wage price spirals, coincided with stagnant economic growth, and unemployment was high while things got more expensive. This resulted in stagflation.
Although we currently have an energy shock, especially in Europe, as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the main driver of today’s inflation pressures was the pandemic. It led to a large demand for goods when strained and locked-down supply chains couldn’t cope.