Sado Jirde

Director at BSWN

Whilst the growth itself is being achieved, ensuring that growth is shared, equitable and inclusive remains the city’s biggest challenge to date.

- Sado Jirde

The West of England’s economy is worth £33 billion a year. Bristol alone, as the economic and innovative hub of the region, is worth £13.6 billion, and it is forecast to remain one of the UK’s fastest-growing economies for years to come.

However, research undertaken by the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity (CoDE) in conjunction with the University of Manchester shows that Bristol is the 7th worst place in England and Wales to live as a member of a Minority Ethnic community. The analysis, which compares 2001 to 2011 census data, shows a worsening situation of inequality for all Minority Ethnic groups during this time.

Whilst the growth itself is being achieved, ensuring that growth is shared, equitable and inclusive remains the city’s biggest challenge to date. BSWN now leads the city’s exploration of solutions to what has been rightfully defined as ‘the biggest economic challenge facing our society’ (RSA, 2016); that is, the creation of a truly inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem in a city that allows all citizens to equitably participate in its economic success. BSWN’s strategy is one that creates equitable opportunities for BAME entrepreneurs, but also one that seeks to address the socio-economic disadvantage experienced by BAME communities in Bristol by developing BAME social enterprises whose social aims are targeted on these issues.

More specifically, BSWN is a social and economic innovation hub focused on addressing racial inequality through

1. delivering the highest quality of community-based research;

2. improving the access to enterprise and social enterprise development support for BAME business owners and aspiring BAME entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs;

3. releasing BAME people’s agency and voice by locating them on an equal dialogue with decision-makers.

In the past two years, developing a city-wide approach to real economic inclusion has been at the heart of BSWN’s strategy. This includes informing policy-makers through our research and engaging key city leaders in culturally and economically inclusive initiatives. Early in 2019, BSWN launched the Black & Asian Business Network, which currently aids the development of effective networking, collaboration, and innovation amongst more than 200 BAME entrepreneurs in the city. We are also negotiating the development of BAME Accelerator in partnership with NatWest. The latter is set to launch at the end of 2019, and it is aimed at providing targeted business support and practical advice from experienced entrepreneurs. BSWN is working with the National Lottery Heritage Fund to support the BAME Cultural and Arts sectors to social enterprise business models, developing innovative ways of addressing socioeconomic disadvantage and cultural exclusion.

Finally, BSWN’s ultimate ambition is to establish the first BAME-led enterprise incubator and accelerator in the city-region. This is an innovative and dynamic concept that brings together strategic economic intelligence, market access support, enterprise skills development, social leadership, and targeted investment to stimulate economic growth in Bristol’s BAME enterprise and community sector to truly and consistently respond to economic inequality.

It will be a place alive with the cultural heritage of BAME communities of Bristol; a place that provides incubation, acceleration, and enterprise development services for BAME businesses, BAME social enterprises, the BAME VCS, and BAME culture and heritage organisations. A place that is economically sustainable, socially and economically impactful.

It will develop and nurture entrepreneurship, idea incubation, business development, cultural expression, and collaborative working. It will be part innovation lab, part business incubator, and part cultural centre. It will offer members a unique ecosystem of training, mentoring, resources, inspiration, and collaboration opportunities to grow. Through BSWN’s strategic role in the city, supported by ongoing research, it will be linked into the regional economic growth drives to ensure the greatest return on investment and impact for the BAME Business community.

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