Business Leaders Project Blog

The Business Leaders Project Blog will bring readers up to date on the latest news from the pioneering project which is engaging with ethnic minority businesses in three of the most deprived areas of Birmingham. The partnership comprises Citizens UK, the GBSLEP Growth Hub, Natwest and CREME and each week we will hear from a different project partner to get their unique perspective on the project.

This week’s introductory blog is written by Professor Monder Ram and provides an excellent insight as to why this project is so important. 

Sharing stories: Dispatches from the Business Leaders' Project

Mosese Dakunivosa is no stranger to the streets of Lozells, Sparkhill and Small Heath in Birmingham. For the last 18 months he’s been popping in out of businesses in these areas and engaging them on a unique project that provides much needed support to local entrepreneurs and organises them to take action to support communities. Moseses is a Community Organiser, and he’s a key member of the team that is delivering the pioneering Business Leaders’ Project (BLP), comprising a unique group of partners representing business (Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership  [GBSLEP] Growth Hub), education (the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship,[CREME]), civil society (Citizens UK Birmingham [CUK:Bham]) and the banking sector (NatWest Bank). These institutions have joined forces on a pioneering GBSLEP Growth Hub-funded project to support businesses in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the City.

Soon, we’ll be sharing our stories of working on this project. Mosese has visited 375 business owners to talk about the project. These visits and discussions have proved crucial to building trust with communities often overlooked by those charged with supporting enterprise in the City. Few entrepreneurs in these areas have received business support in the past. Our project is gaining the confidence of local communities and building their capacity to access support from more ‘mainstream’ sources. Nearly 50 entrepreneurs have had detailed discussions with Mosese and Andy Lee of NatWest on strategies to grow and develop their businesses. Andy and Mosese have also provided intensive, bespoke to 30 of these business owners over the last year; and this figure will rise to 50 in the next six months.

Why is this project important? Well, entrepreneurs in some of the most disadvantaged areas are receiving support that will ultimately contribute to job creation and business growth. It’s unlikely that they would have received it from other sources. These businesses also make a valuable social contribution to the local community. They often serve as meeting places for socially isolated groups, and they’re a hub for sharing stories and information. The project is also helping entrepreneurs to work together to address common problems (parking, anti-social behaviour); and CUK’s expertise in supporting civil society is helping to bring these communities together so they can represent themselves more effectively. CREME’s role is to draw out the lessons of this project so that it can be applied to other areas and other cities. NatWest share this commitment to scale-up the project; and the dedication of Andy Lee has been absolutely central to the project to date.

What next? The project team will be sharing their stories on how they are trying to build and inclusive business support ecosystem, step-by-step, and from the ground up.

Find out more

Visit the Citizens UK website
Visit the GBSLEP Growth Hub website