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Make it a black Christmas, urge BAME entrepreneurs

MONEY TALKS: Independent black businesses are booming in London and across the country

ENTREPRENEURS are urging consumers to invest in the community this Christmas, by purchasing from black-owned businesses.

The call comes at a time when the number of black-owned businesses are flourishing and more African Caribbean-focused Christmas markets are appearing. According to recent research by the UK Business and Enterprise department and the London Development Agency, there are approximately 16,000 businesses owned by people of black African and Caribbean descent in London, making up four per cent of all businesses in the capital.

A further 27,000 black Londoners are self-employed; up by 80 per cent over the past decade. Minority-owned businesses form one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy and employ thousands of people.

And according to data compiled by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the spending power of Britain’s black communities is worth an estimated £300 billion. Business experts argue if some of that spending power is re-directed to black-owned enterprises that could translate into the creation of thousands of jobs and community projects that benefit black and minority ethnic communities.

Oliva-Zara Burgher, the entrepreneur behind the Black Market Christmas Special, taking place on Saturday (December 16) in Brick Lane, London, believes targeted purchasing can have a profound impact on the black community.

Speaking to The Voice, Burgher said: “Black consumers have tremendous spending power, but we need to give our business owners a chance to thrive by investing in our community. By circulating the black pound we are helping black families to pay their mortgage or their child’s schooling.”

Burgher continued: “There need to be more events like the Black Market Christmas Special taking place throughout the year. I want similar markets for Valentine’s, Mother’s and Father’s Days. We need an increase in awareness of what products are available from black-owned businesses.”

Sandra Brown Pinnock, owner of xSandy’s stores in south London, specialising in hair and cosmetics products, agrees with Burgher – but believes that negative perceptions of black-owned businesses need to be overcome, before the message of ‘buying black’ really hits home.

She said: “The challenge many black consumers face is one of mindset. In every other culture money is spent primarily within its community, but within the African Caribbean community finance is not circulated in this way. This needs to change.

“Our community needs to be educated through community groups, social media, parents and the press. We are great consumers, yet we do not have any economic power.” She continued: “By supporting black-owned businesses, we can improve the quality of our lives and inspire our youths to also become entrepreneurs.”

When asked in a Twitter poll if they thought buying black was the way forward, 70 per cent of The Voice readers voted yes. The Birmingham-based Black Pound Society has been urging the community to stop complaining about the lack of wealth in the community and act by spending with black businesses to create an economic legacy.

The society is urging black consumers to imitate the example of African Americans during the 1960s civil rights struggle, and more recently after Black Lives Matter protests, who invested in neighbourhoods like Harlem.

Black enterprises across the West Midlands such as New-Style Radio, Diamond Travel and Diva’s Cosmetics have benefited from the on-going support of black consumers following a recent Black Pound Society campaign.

The holiday season in the US is often a profitable time for black-owned businesses, many of them advertising their unique gift ideas and tapping into the African American spending power.

African Americans currently form 13 per cent of the US population and according to statistics from Nielsen, the global consumer insights consultancy, they have a buying power of $1 trillion (£749 billion) which is forecast to reach $1.5 trillion by 2021.

However, author and entrepreneur Julian Hall insists the UK black businesses need to remain positive and solution focused if they are to win the support of black consumers. Hall said: “Black businesses needs to promote available products and services, so that the wider public knows what we offer. From my own experience if a high-quality product or service is provided then it attracts customers and an economic base is built.”

Hall added: “We need more successful businesses that serve the UK market. We also need to encourage young people to become more entrepreneurial so they have better choices when it comes to employment and making money.”

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