£50m kick-start for London’s minority entrepreneurs

The British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme is providing a funding boost to London-based entrepreneurs from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds, new figures show.

Latest data from the Government-backed programme shows that it has issued 7,366 loans to start-up owners in London from BAME backgrounds, amounting to more than £50 million in funding. This represents almost half of all Start Up Loans in London.

While two in five Londoners identified as being from Asian, Black, Mixed or Other ethnic groups in the last census, almost half of all the 15,423 Start Up Loans issued in the capital since 2012 went to people from BAME backgrounds.

Jacqueline Hall, from Rainham in the London Borough of Havering, is among the BAME Londoners who used a Start Up Loan to set up her company.

Having been made redundant and found little success at job interviews, Jacqueline decided to switch careers and pursue her dream of becoming a life coach.

Inspired by her love of people and listening to their problems, she used a £2,500 loan to launch DALE Coaching, her own online mentoring company offering development and career coaching.

The business has since transformed to include family business leadership team facilitation and a consortium with other female entrepreneurs that hosts workshops and learning sets and encourages women into STEM related careers.

“After the employment struggles I faced I never thought I’d have been able to launch my own business, but the initial loan I received from Start Up Loans was the kickstart I needed,” she said.

“If you believe in your idea and have the tenacity and determination to succeed, then anything is possible. Of course there are hurdles on the way, but I’ve felt supported in facing them.”

Michaela Alexander, from Bow, Tower Hamlets, took out a £10,000 loan in 2016 to write and launch her own children’s book series, Miles & Mia, named after her own two children, after she noticed a lack of ethnic diversity in children’s story books.

Following the success of her first book, Miles & Mia A-Z, which won two gold awards for Best Children’s Book at the Junior Design Award and the Mumii Family Awards, Michaela has focused her time on championing diversity in literature and will launch a second book next year.

Michaela said: “I feel very lucky that I have been able to harness two very important passions in my life, my children and the need for more diversity in children’s books, to make my dream of writing my own books come true.

“I was completely new to running a small business and self-publishing a book. It has been a demanding but brilliant journey, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the initial funding and support from Start Up Loans.”

Andrea Leadsom, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, said: “I want the UK to be the best place in the world to work and start a business, and the success achieved by entrepreneurs like Jacqueline and Michaela is an inspiration. It is fantastic to see that almost half of Start Up Loans in London have been awarded to people from ethnic minority backgrounds.

“With the new year starting, now is a great time to start hatching business plans. The government-owned British Business Bank offers a range of support to aspiring business owners to help make those plans a reality.”