On 18th July, our Equality and Diversity Intern, Jesmin, attended the launch of a new BME community business toolkit from the Mali Enterprising Leaders (MEL) project. Here, she reflects on the event hosted by Power to Change grantee, The Ubele Initiative.
A range of attendees met in London’s Conway Hall, including members from five community businesses that have participated in the Mali Enterprising Leaders project. Started by The Ubele Intiative – an infrastructure support organisation working with BME-led community organisations – MEL aims to create community business opportunities intergenerationally within BME community organisations in the UK
The community businesses in attendance included 198 Contemporary Arts and Learning, Carnaval del Pueblo Association, The Lewisham Sports Consortium, Manchester Congolese Organisation (MaCO), Making Education a Priority (MEaP) and Added Value. Representatives from Locality, Community Builders and Brain Füd were also present.
The main purposes of this event was the launch of the first national Community Business Toolkit for BME Communities – a resource that can offer targeted support and advice to enable BME community organisations to retain and build sustainable community business models. But, it also enabled organisations to better understand and implement financial strategies and models for creating more sustainable organisations.
Throughout the event, the five BME-led community businesses who were present, discussed areas in which they found challenging and addressed these issues. These included the ability to recognise and understand that often these BME-led community businesses are working in very deprived and disadvantaged areas and that it is wrong to assume that BME organisations all share the same characteristics.
Michael Hamilton, Director of The Ubele Initiative, highlighted that younger people provided a new energy and valuable new ideas, contributing to the sustainability of community assets. The key learning and tools developed, have been incorporated into a toolkit, co-written by Jeff Scales (Head of Services at Locality), which will eventually be made available on a national basis. He has broken down the BME business toolkit into 3 sections:
- Business Model
- Social Impact
Initially these are the 3 areas a community business would look to go through to develop, and is a continuous process on how to further change, adapt and improve. It is fair to say that this can be applied to all community businesses, and not just BME-led community businesses.
Overall, it was a very engaging and insightful event, looking at where the 5 BME-led community businesses came from and how they started up, to how they have developed and what they have achieved. There was a sense of awareness building and education around what a community business is as well as how young leaders are playing a role in ensuring the sustainability of community assets.
Find out more by reading Ubele Initiative and Locality’s national report, A Place Called Home, highlighting the urgent need for BME communities to be offered targeted support, advice, capacity building and investment to enable them to retain and build sustainable community business models.
The business toolkit can help your community business achieve its goals – from understanding different legal structures to writing a business plan, it’s an invaluable resource to set up your community business to succeed, and be inclusive and diverse.