Dennis St Bernard

Dennis St Bernard. Business Contributor

In Caribbean news. ‘In the light of the current global banking crisis which is set to change the face of big business, there will never be a better time for black and minority businesses to flourish’.

A recent British Bankers Association Report on ethnic minority businesses in the UK outlined the following:-

–         Black – owned businesses are underrepresented in the business population relative to share of London’s population.

–         Black – owned businesses make up 4% of the business population, but 12% of the population.

–         African and Caribbean workers are distributed across industries in approximately the same pattern as the population as a whole. However black workers are overrepresented  in the Health and Social work, Public administration and Transport Sector

A recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) Report indicated that unemployment is highest in the black population in London, with 16% for Black Africans and 12% for Black Caribbean compared to 6.7% for the total population and 5.3% for the white population.

‘We really need to wake up as a people and get our act together as black people tend to have a ‘follow the crowd’ culture and therefore there is a need to step away from this practice and venture into other areas / sectors in which blacks can effectively compete and there are many’.

The lack of effective Black Business Networking and Support Systems as a major missing fabric in the Black Business Sector. These support systems are well developed and very effective within the other minority groups, operating in UK and as a result they are making major strides, even as newcomers to the UK. We will continue to lose ground and become further marginalised in the competitive business world, if blacks continue to do business the way they have been doing business. Now is the time for a wake up call for black businesses in the UK.

This present crop of black business leaders have to step up and make a difference and ended by asking the question if this current crop is not going to do it, then WHO and if they are not going to do it NOW, then WHEN?



Its is clear that the contribution of black business to the London Economy is very significant, with black owned businesses providing over 70,000 jobs and have a total turnover of £4.5 Billion.

Edwin Laurent

Economic Columnist – Edwin Laurent CMG OBE

The Report also points to the fact that black businesses are very innovative – they are more than average likely to introduce innovations in goods, services or business processes and significantly more likely than the average to derive substantial benefits from such innovations.

Black businesses also seem to show greater resilience during an economic slowdown. The report clearly illustrate the need for us to increase our knowledge and understanding of this growing entrepreneurial community and to ensure that the right resources and skills are in place to build a more complete and accurate picture of African and Caribbean businesses.

Culturally and economically, the experience of being an ethnic minority living in the UK has changed, as UK society has changed over the last 30 years. The UK has become a much more heterogeneous and generally less racist society, making it relatively easier for people of Caribbean descent to participate fully in almost every aspect of UK life.

The extent to which this has or is removing the need for people to belong to Caribbean-focused organisations as a point of safe harbour or common experience or to locate in particular areas is unclear. Anecdotal evidence suggests the move away from a desire for Caribbean identity may relate to education, self perception as to the potential role within British society and growing wealth.

Entrepreneurship is the way forward. In today’s job market you have to knock on the door nineteen times and on the twentieth time it might open.

This was further endorsed by leading Caribbean / Commonwealth Economist Edwin Laurent who went on to add that the under-representation of blacks in business as revealed by the British Bankers Association report should serve as both a wake-up call and a challenge.

Setting up a business that survives and prospers offers a good chance for income and financial security, particularly in such times of high unemployment. Investing and entrepreneurship though, is not for the fainthearted. Having a good idea is not enough; determination, hard work and meticulous planning and preparation are essential.

Fortunately the government makes support and advice available that can be most helpful to up and coming entrepreneurs, we need to therefore access these along with various networking activities etc, to improve our chances of success.