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      • Groundbreaking study by specialist research agency The Black United Representation Network, commissioned by GM Business Growth Hub, highlights barriers to innovation faced by Black and Asian-led businesses in the city-region

      • Insights from 20 Black and Asian-led businesses have informed the report with recommendations informed directly by the perspectives of Ethnic Minority Businesses (EMB) themselves

      • Key recommendations for growth: customised support, diverse founders network, and investment fund

      • If implemented, recommendations could have the potential to help close Greater Manchester’s £3.8 billion productivity gap

     

    Greater Manchester’s productivity could be boosted by almost £4bn sparking a new era of inclusivity and growth if barriers facing the city-region’s Black and Asian business leaders were dismantled, according to a report released today (11th January).

    A groundbreaking study by The Black United Representation Network CIC (BURN), commissioned by GM Business Growth Hub, part of The Growth Company, shines the spotlight on the issues faced by Black and Asian-led businesses in Greater Manchester in accessing innovation support and networks.

    BURN’s research, analysis and recommendations, laid out over 31 pages, features candid interviews and insights from 20 Black and Asian-led businesses.

    It provides a snapshot of their perspective on the barriers they face when navigating the business support and innovation ecosystem within the city-region, and what they would like to see change.

    Despite strides, the report reveals a stark reality – a fraction of Ethnic Minority Businesses (EMBs) are tapping into available resources as raising funds and securing investments pose significant challenges. 

    Donna Edwards, Managing Director of Business Support and Business Finance at GC, said: “For 30 years, The Growth Company and GM Business Growth Hub have been dedicated to supporting innovative businesses in Greater Manchester.

    “We know that despite our efforts, we are only engaging with a fraction of the innovation-led EMBs that we could and should support. That is why this study and paper were commissioned – to ensure that the voices of the ethnic minority business community were clearly heard. We are thankful to all involved and remain committed to working with the Black United Representation Network and others to drive positive change.

    “The barriers faced by EMB owners underscore the urgent need for targeted interventions to create an inclusive and supportive environment for ethnic minority businesses in the region. We hope these findings inspire a stronger, equitable local economy where everyone can thrive.”

    Key recommendations in the report include the adoption of sustainable, customised business support delivered by diverse providers. The creation of a Diverse Founders Network is also suggested coupled with the establishment of a new Diverse Founders Investment Fund. 

    Bespoke bid writing support for minority owned businesses is recommended along with introducing mandatory reporting of ethnicity across the business support ecosystem to provide the evidence base for targeted funding.

    GM Business Growth Hub wanted to understand the challenges faced by EMBs in accessing innovation support and what is needed to remove barriers standing in the way of diverse innovators.

    Some of the struggles EMBs have faced include developing and commercialising new products/services, with a lack of funding impeding vital research and development. Accessing innovation support and networks was also a challenge, with existing networks perceived as too insular. 

    Azhar Quaiyoom, Q Sustain founder, said: “Nearly 30 per cent of Greater Manchester is of a diverse population. My experience of innovation networks does not near represent that of the region. Greater EMB representation at board level for Growth Hub, innovation and grant boards would help to shift the dial.”

    Ray Evans, SRI Forensics founder, said: “As far as investment, wouldn’t know where to go for this…when you go down to London and see the success that Black businesses are enjoying down there, you think why can’t we have this in Manchester.”

    Olu Alemoru, Nutmeg Animations founder, said: “Short of a magic wand, I would like to see a seismic change in attitudes amongst those key stakeholders. There are good ideas and talent out there just waiting for those opportunities.”

    A focus group with stakeholders also found that proactive engagement of EMBs had not been a priority in the past, and that ethnicity data is not captured to monitor numbers accessing innovation networks consistently.

    The BURN report envisages making changes will not only close the productivity gap but also foster diversity, equity, and inclusion for sustained economic growth in Greater Manchester.

    Dr Marilyn Comrie OBE, BURN founding member and report co-author, said: “We hope this study will be the catalyst for impactful change. Inequalities in accessing and benefitting from business support services in Greater Manchester currently exist, particularly for innovative EMBs. Yet while successive attempts to modernise service delivery and improve the diversity of businesses accessing this support have been made, the same problems recur. 

    “Understanding the specific barriers that EMBs face is the crucial first step in creating solutions that can overcome long-standing racial inequities. This report shines a light on the tangible changes that are needed for Greater Manchester to fulfil its aspirations of becoming an integrated, innovation-led economy where all businesses can thrive.”

    You can download a copy of the report here.

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    We are delighted to announce that Dean Williams has joined The Black United Representation Network as our Programme Manager

     

    Dean has over 20 years experience of procurement expertise and managing people. He has gained extensive skills and experience managing programmes, implementing a spend-control solution that managed the buying processes for a council’s annual spend of £450m.

    BURN successfully tendered for the Growth Company’s Executive Development programme, a two year contract to support the growth and development of SMEs employing more than five people, through the provision of 12 hours of targeted learning and development interventions. Dean will be the programme lead working with a range of BURN members and associates to ensure quality delivery. Dean will also use his wealth of experience to tender for additional public sector opportunities as the demand for diverse suppliers grows.

    Please join us in welcoming Dean to the BURN family.

     

    #WeAreBURN #TogetherWeRise #MeetTheTeam

     

     

     

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    A qualified teacher and Mental Health specialist, Anton Peruga has recently secured private investment enabling him to become the Co-founder and Managing Director of Holden Knight Education Ltd. 

    The organisation provides key support to vulnerable children, engaging them in education via the R.I.S.E project (Responding Innovatively to Social Exclusion). Holden Knight Education has also supported schools across the UK with their staffing needs which has been vital during the pandemic and will continue into the future.

    Anton was inspired by Dr Marilyn Comrie OBE’s appeal in 2020 to join BURN and help shape solutions for economic and social empowerment for the black community in the Greater Manchester region. Now as a small business owner, Anton is one of the beneficiaries of our free Be the Business Advisory Board programme, which gives him the opportunity to tap into his very own board of advisors for one year.

    We asked Anton:

    What would be the name of your autobiography: The Pursuit of Happiness

    Who would play you in a film of your life story: Denzel Washington

    What is your favourite song of all time: The mis-education of, Lauryn Hill

     

     

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    We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce our newly appointed Office Manager, Tegan Lewis. Tegan is a seasoned operations professional with an accomplished career of supporting SME’s and Corporate businesses.

    Tegan brings extensive experience of leading through operations and strategy, creating structures from the ground up along with analysing and improving existing organisations to deliver change and growth in a variety of disciplines including Customer Experience, People Development, HR and Business Development.

    With a passion for progressing people and businesses, Tegan takes the lead on managing our Board Apprentice and Advisory Board programme’s.

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    Carol Ann Whitehead FRSA GAA is one of the founding members of the Black United Representation Network CIC (she was the brainchild behind the name of the organisation). With an extensive career across publishing, fashion, events and media, Carol Ann’s vast experience has taken her around the globe.

    In her early career Carol Ann worked for the Guardian Media Group in sales, marketing, and promotions, based in London. Several years later she relocated back to the North West and secured a position with the Manchester Evening News, covering all aspects and brands including the City Life Magazine.

    In February 2000, The Zebra Partnership publishing was formed. Their publication portfolio includes Star Wars Attack of the Clones, Peaky Blinders and Looney Tunes. This month, they will celebrate 21 years of success.

    Throughout her career, Carol Ann has ensured that she gives back and continues to empower and inspire others.  

    We are delighted that she will be leading the delivery team for the Pan African Trade Executive Roundtable, taking place on Thursday 25th March 2021. This virtual event will provide a platform for North West SMEs, Corporates and Investors to make connections and learn more about the support offer by the UK Government to business and investors.

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    We are delighted to announce that Basil Creese has joined BURN CIC as our Learning & Development Manager. Basil is a Learning and Development Specialist with an extensive background in Leadership Development, Communication and Presentation Skills, Sales and Sales Performance Management, Recruitment and Customer Experience in both B2B and B2C environments. 

    Basil has over 11 years’ experience which includes all aspects of Learning and Development from strategy to analysis, design, delivery, implementation, and evaluation. He has an excellent track record in stimulating bottom-line growth, through the creation and execution of innovative learning and coaching interventions.

    In addition, he has put in place successful People Engagement, Personal Development and Customer centric programs in global, blue-chip organisations and led strategic change, improving engagement for both clients and colleagues. 

    Basil will help develop and implement our strategy and play a central role in BURN CIC winning more business and building our membership.

     

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    We are done being left behind! The Black United Representation Network (BURN) is a new membership organisation of nine founding VCSE and micro companies, which exists to challenge and tackle persistent racial inequalities which negatively impact people of African Descent. We exist to ensure that the momentum and desire for real change generated by the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t lost.

    Greater Manchester has no people of African descent in senior leadership positions that can influence policy and decision-making. The decades long lack of strong and co-ordinated Black leadership has resulted in growing racial inequalities in education, employment, business, health, housing wealth divide. BURN was created to fill this gap.

    Research shows that the Black community has been hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis. The Black Third sector have seen rising demand for their services from those in greatest need. Many are on the brink of closure, lacking reserves due to years of under-funding, especially in relation to core funding. 

    The founders have successfully lobbied for the creation of a race equality panel to advise Metro Mayor, Andy Burnham to hold city leaders accountable and responsible to deliver deeds not words. It is due to be launched in July 2020. 

    To address the systemic and structural racism that has been normalised within the fabric of life in Greater Manchester, we commit to:-

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    The Black United Representation Network (BURN) is an organisation created by a group of successful black professionals including lawyers, entrepreneurs, doctors and barristers.

    A network aimed at providing equal opportunities to black communities in Manchester has received £5,000 from the Forever Manchester Community Support Fund.

    The Black United Representation Network (BURN) is an organisation created by a group of successful black professionals including lawyers, entrepreneurs, doctors and barristers.

    According to the group, their main aim is to ‘challenge and tackle persistent racial inequalities found in Greater Manchester that negatively impacts people of African descent.’

    The network received the £5k donation after applying for the Forever Manchester Community Support fund, and they have recently successfully lobbied for the creation of a race equality panel to advise Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham which is set to launch next month.

    With so much success just three weeks after their official launch, BURN plan on using the funds to help the ‘Black Third Sector’ weather the “economic storm” of the coronavirus.

    The Black Third Sector is compromised of charities and voluntary lead initiatives put in place to support the most vulnerable people in black communities.

    BURN Director, Lisa Maynard-Atem said: “Research shows that the black community has been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus, most black voluntary, community social enterprises are small and deal directly with those in need, they suffer from lack of funding, and they’ve seen a rise in their services during this crisis.

    “A lot of them are on the brink of closure and we want to avoid that, so we’re going to be working with our local partners.

    “The funding will be used to design and develop a bespoke distance learning programme, the idea is to strengthen and grow the capabilities of these organisations so they can become sustainable and weather any future economic storms.”

    The distance learning programme is known as the ‘Restore, Strengthen and Scale Up programme’.

    BURN are looking to help organisations such as the African Caribbean Care Group, the Caribbean and African Health Network and the KYSO club a not-for-profit organisation in Manchester that helps young people.

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    We are delighted to announce that BURN have been awarded £5000 from Forever Manchester to design and deliver a leadership development programme for the Black Third Sector in Greater Manchester to build back better. A total of twenty organisations from across the city region will be supported over a six-month period.

    Research shows that the Black community has been disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus. Most Black voluntary, community and social enterprises are small, community-based charities working directly with those with the greatest needs. They suffer from a lack of funding and have seen a rise in the demand for their services during the crisis. Many are on the brink of closure, which could leave many vulnerable people without the essential and trusted specialist support they need.

    Working with local partners, the funding will be used to design and develop a bespoke distance learning programme to strengthen and grow the capability of these organisations to become sustainable so they can better weather any future economic storms.

    Delivered online, the Restore, Strengthen and Scale Up programme will build the digital skills, capabilities and confidence of the Black Third sector to use digital platforms such as Zoom to engage, communicate and deliver services remotely. The accelerated growth programme will also include wrap around support such as mentoring and action learning sets to facilitate collaborative working and partnerships between organisations.

     

    To discover more or to register interest, please email info@burncic.org

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