The Black Entrepreneur Report 2021

Black-owned businesses still face considerable hurdles in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, a new report finds.

As part of Black History Month, ASPIRE consultancy has published a ground-breaking new report that investigates entrepreneurship, race, and ethnic minority disparities in the UK.

In a bid to shed more light on the challenges faced by Britain’s black business community, The [inaugural] Black Entrepreneur Report 2021 is an important document that aspires to drive change, whilst advocating for equality in business.

The overarching takeaway of this report (published by Dr Carlton Brown, the CEO of Aspire Consultancy, and Marshall And Brown), – highlights a possible significant failure to tackle deeply-rooted racial inequalities and divisions within British society.

“More work needs to be done to tackle race inequality in business ownership, because a truly multicultural Britain that engages and embraces all ethnicities, – is not only the morally right thing to do, but it’s also good for business, the economy, and society at large,” said Dr Carlton Brown.

The timely report examines multifaceted aspects of people’s lives, including education and employment, access to finance, mentoring and coaching, and participation.

And whilst there are certainly causes for optimism (for example, 70% of the Black, African, and Caribbean diaspora (BACD) surveyed had gained a Higher Education qualification, with 48.55% of BACD start-up businesses still trading after five years, – compared to the national average of 40%), black entrepreneurs still appear to be “held back” from reaching their fullest potential, due to a combination of systematic organisation, cultural, and unconscious bias.

For instance, 58% of respondents thought that their cultural identity had negatively impacted their ability to gain access to finance, training, mentoring programmes, and positions. Elsewhere, 75% of those surveyed stated that they felt as though they were perceived as being “less competent” or “less skilled” than other social groups, – qualifications notwithstanding.

Therefore, Dr Carlton Brown is calling upon policymakers to “level the playing field, and give everyone a fair chance to succeed and to thrive.” Although organisations around the world have been ramping-up diversity programmes since the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement (2013) (not-to-mention the recent murder of George Floyd (Minneapolis USA, 2020), significant results have yet to be verified. 

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For many, diversity and inclusion appears to remain a “tick-the-box administrative exercise,” that creates the illusion of inclusion, when really, it may just be an aesthetic.

That’s why the The Black Entrepreneur Report 2021 presents a number of recommendations to create real, tangible progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I). From ensuring equitable access to funding and mentorship opportunities, to comprehensive, coordinated, and long-term strategies, the report provides clear pathways and measurable outcomes to achieve racial equality.

“Today’s report highlights just how embedded racial inequality and unfairness still is. We need to build a fair society in which someone’s race, gender, and culture do not determine their social and economic outcome, within business and life in general,” said Dr Carlton Brown.

Impressively able to transition between public and private sectors, Dr Carlton Brown is both an entrepreneur (Marshall And Brown), and an academic. Having earned his MBA and PhD in Business, Dr Brown’s work on black entrepreneurship and The Black Entrepreneur Report 2021 is well-respected, and highly praised as a paramount in the field of business strategy and inclusion.

Also the CEO of Aspire Consultancy, a lecturer at the London School of Business And Finance, AND a published author, Dr Brown has been helping businesses to deliver profitable growth, maximise performance, ethical marketing, whilst supporting them with their supply chains, corporate social responsibility (CSR), and diversity engagements for over 20 years.  

Dr Brown possesses both senior corporate leadership experience working for FTSE100 organisations, and success in building start-up businesses. Pragmatic, diligent and engaging, he is well-positioned to help organisations develop the required skills, knowledge, and strategies necessary for sustainable and inclusive growth.

You can find Dr Carlton Brown’s landmark report (including forewords by Lord Michael Hastings (the Chair of the Black business Association and the London Chamber of Commerce), Leroy Logan MBE, René Carayol MBE, Professor Uzoechi Nwagbara (PhD), Nero Ughujabo (a Former Special Adviser to UK Prime Minister), and Paul Hargreaves (the CEO of Cotswold Fayre Ltd) here.