At the beginning of the lockdown I had a real concern that BAME enterprises would be negatively impacted by the COVID19 crisis.
Once the dust has settled and the data collected this is likely to be
true at some level, however the BAME entrepreneurs in our cohort remain
resilient through the crisis and are optimistic about their businesses bouncing
back when we emerge from lockdown. This was by no means a statistically
significant sample but was interesting to me nevertheless.
Based on my initial concern, MeWe considered setting up an emergency fund for our members (70% of whom are from BAME communities) thinking there would be a serious need; but in speaking to them, a different picture emerged from the one I expected.
What we learned is that:
1. They are
adaptable because they are entrepreneurs (as opposed to managers), many of them
are also creatives which proves useful in dealing with unexpected events.
2. All are leaders of start-ups or small businesses, with few if any staff (often 1-3 people) and low fixed costs, e.g. no buildings. They know how to survive on less.
3. Many were already in survival mode pre-Covid-19 and so, incrementally, the difference to them during lockdown is less.
All of the above could also be true of white entrepreneurs, but from our experience (through coaching sessions), what sets the BAME leaders/entrepreneurs from the white leaders/entrepreneurs are the barriers related to structural inequalities which BAME people continuously need to overcome.
This resilience, unfortunately built in the face of social inequality, may serve BAME entrepreneurs well when facing a crisis.
Piece written by Kevin Osborne, CEO of MeWe360