The event will be an opportunity to learn what the government is doing to support ethnically diverse entrepreneurs, hear from leading business experts on what they think needs to be done, and to share your own views and questions with our speakers.
Following on from the recent round table exploring the challenges to starting and scaling a business that people from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds face, this webinar in the series will seek to further explore and challenge the way diverse entrepreneurs are supported in the UK.
Sharniya Ferdinand, business inclusion programme manager at NatWest, says equality of support needs to be kept at the top of the business agenda, especially amidst the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic. “Coronavirus has highlighted, and in many cases exacerbated, issues that already existed for some communities,” she says. “For me, this shows that it’s long overdue for these issues to be solved. If we don’t want communities to be left behind when rebuilding, we need to ensure that this discussion remains on the agenda so we can build a fairer and more equal society.”
NatWest is committed to championing enterprise and removing the barriers that too many entrepreneurs face, says Ferdinand, adding: “I believe the only way to solve these issues is for organisations to come together to share insights and collaborate to create solutions.”
A sense of urgency
Philip Salter, founder of The Entrepreneurs Network, says the need to discuss and address equality of support has never been more urgent. “This is for two reasons,” he explains. “First, we need to tap into all forms of entrepreneurial talent if we are to replace the jobs lost during the Covid-19 pandemic. Second, at this moment there is a greater awareness around issues of diversity and race than there has been in the past – and, as a result, the prospect of progress is much greater.
“I'm really excited to hear from Kemi Badenoch MP on what the Treasury is doing to expand access for ethnically diverse entrepreneurs,” adds Salter. “I'm also interested, in particular, in seeing whether our panel believe the actions are sufficient, whether they agree with the government's broad approach, and what they would do to increase diversity among entrepreneurs. And the speakers on our panel have an impressive record in not only overcoming adversity, but also in helping and championing others.”
About the webinar
The event will be chaired by Alison Cork, founder of Make It Your Business, a nationwide initiative to encourage and support women entrepreneurs. Cork is an experienced businesswoman, TV presenter and founder of successful homewares brand Alison At Home. She will be joined by:
- Kemi Badenoch MP, exchequer secretary and minister for women and qualities. Badenoch is responsible for a wide range of policy, including regional devolution, better regulation and competition policy, R&D and science policy, as well as the implementation of the recommendations made in the Rose Review of female entrepreneurship, which was authored by NatWest chief executive Alison Rose.
- Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones MBE, farmer and founder of food brand The Black Farmer. Emmanuel-Jones was a producer-director of BBC TV’s Food & Drink programme before moving to Devon and buying his own farm. He now produces a range of award-winning meat and cheese products and runs a Black Farmer scholarship to give ethnically diverse inner-city communities the opportunity to have the experience of living and working in agriculture.
- Melanie Eusebe, co-founder of the Black British Business Awards. Eusebe, an award-winning entrepreneur and business strategist, launched the Black British Business Awards in 2014, and it is now renowned as the largest awards programme of its kind. Eusebe has also been executive producer for the Women of the World Festival, a global gender-equality event celebrating the achievements of girls and women.
- Professor Monder Ram OBE, director of the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME). Professor Ram has extensive experience of working in and acting as a consultant to ethnically diverse companies. He also advises the government through his position on the all-party parliamentary group for ethnically diverse business owners.
- Samuel Okafor, co-lead of the NatWest Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Taskforce and global co-chair of the NatWest Group Multicultural Network. In the latter role, Okafor works with senior leaders to support the recruitment, development and retention of ethnically diverse employees. In 2020, he was appointed to co-lead the bank’s Taskforce, which aims to address the key issues faced by ethnically diverse colleagues and design solutions to address them.
- Andrew Harrison, head of Natwest Business Banking. Harrison has significant experience in supporting clients, from SMEs through to large corporates. In his role as head of Business Banking, he has responsibility for the delivery of a full range of banking services to around 1m small business customers.
Ferdinand says: “For true change to happen, we need to learn from and collaborate with those who are leading the way and being real change-makers, so we’re really excited to be bringing together such an illustrious panel.
“I truly hope that from this discussion tangible actions will be taken and will move us closer to our goal of breaking down barriers.”