Do Black People Feel Excluded From Brixton?
As new communities move in, original residents ask what happened to the heart of Black Britain
LOCAL LANDMARK: The street market in Electric Avenue, BrixtonDOWN TO: The market in Electric Avenue.
THERE WAS a time in this country when the mention of Brixton symbolised the experience of Caribbean people in Britain.
While this is still true to a large extent – Brixton is home to the Black Cultural Archives, and rightly so – it seems to be the only legacy remaining.
For a significant number of the children of the Windrush generation, their lives were about Brixton: where they went to school, where they grew up and made lifelong friends and where they ran into various scrapes that finally culminated in clashes with heavy-handed police in 1981.
However, when a large number of shops closed after the riots and Brixton was left almost derelict, a run-down no-go area, it was black professionals and businesses – accountants, lawyers, estate agents, recruitment consultants, newspaper publishers, PR and advertising agencies, builders and contractors, management consultants, researchers, restaurants, book shops – who staked their claim to it and helped regenerate the area.
It was to Brixton that all black VIPs and celebrities from abroad, such as Nelson Mandela and Mike Tyson, flocked to for a taste and feel of the black experience when they came to these shores.
Continue reading “Do Black People Feel Excluded From Brixton?”
Many things have been celebrated in black history month over the years but I doubt whether there has been any celebration of black people in business in Britain so in this brief note I intend to chronicle the history of black business development and celebrate the initiatives in the hope that more assistance will come in the way as we look forward to contributing to the brighter future of wealth creation in this country.
We have come a very long way from the days when black people did not routinely aspire or even think of self employment; setting up a business was but a dream for most.
I know there were several small black-owned businesses around 35 years ago, travel agents, hairdressing salons, night clubs, takeaways and restaurants, newspapers, patty shops and bakeries, records shops and various other businesses though most were devoted to personal services.
Research into black businesses
In 1980, the UK Caribbean Chamber of Commerce had brought their difficulties to the attention of government. The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee commissioned some research and called for several papers and published in December 1980 the report titled: West Indian Businesses in Britain.
Several others carried out research on the back of this initial report to assist in the development of policy on how black people in business in this country can be assisted.
- Martin Kazuka wrote ‘Why so few Black Business’ for the Hackney Business Promotion Project
- Alan Brookes researched Caribbean businesses in Lambeth
- Peter Wilson focussed on Brent for the Runnymede Trust in 1983
- Ade Sawyerr also contributed to the effort with my research on Particular problems faced by black controlled businesses in Britain with some proposals for their solution for his MBA dissertation at Manchester Business School in 1982 which broke academic ground on the subject.
Most of these reports revealed that black businesses faced several problems:
- Black businesses were small and remained so because they focussed on personal services serving a captive ethnic market.
- Access to capital and credit was difficult in the face of unwillingness by banks to lend partly because they did not understand the businesses and did not have confidence in them as entrepreneurs.
- There were problems with access to premises and skilled staff and competent managers
- Markets were generally closed to them because of their size and this led them to focus on their own communities.
These could be resolved with concerted action by government, the private sector and the academics working together and by facilitating organisations also providing assistance.
But it was left to Lord Scarmann who had been asked by government to inquire into the Brixton disorders who having found that ways of policing Brixton was totally unacceptable bemoaned the issue of young black people who were unemployed and to a large extent had no stake in the british society. He was bold enough to suggest a raft of employment training initiatives and went further to push government into action. Scarmann wrote …..: but I do urge the necessity for speedy action if we are to avoid a perpetuation in this country of an economically indisposed black population. A weakness in British society is that there are too few people of West Indian origin in the business, entrepreneurial, and professional class.
Continue reading “Celebrating Black Businesses at Black History Month 2013 – Ade Sawyerr”
The Equinox Consulting story
The story of Equinox Consulting can be likened to a journey of hard work with a lot of fulfilment along the way; but like all journeys, things do not always go as planned. There are detours and there are new objectives that get set up along the journey. The business model and the strategy for survival have to be constantly updated especially if like us you have been able to survive two recessions.
We remain in business because there is, and has always been a compelling need for the work we do for our clients, and the demand for our services has enabled us to survive and be successful. Continue reading “Equinox Consulting! Celebrating 28 years of service to the black community in Britain”
Big Society: One size fits all?
Submitted 25 Feb 2011 10:52am
One size does not fit all. Give government work programme contracts to local organisations says business and training consultant Ade Sawyerr.
The Conservatives won the election in 1983 because the country did not want to relive the crisis of the mid to late 1970s with all the union strikes and the problems of the economy that brought the IMF to intervene in the Britain and demand a structural adjustment of the economy. But Margaret Thatcher almost closed down Britain after she took over as Prime Minister in 1979. She destroyed the manufacturing base, took on the unions, sent 3 million people to the dole and sent the country into recession.
The country must have voted for her partly because of the Falklands War, but mainly because of the confidence they had that she could sort out the economy.
An economy which has millions of people unemployed is not a productive economy and the government ends up spending more money on unemployment benefit. But in truth governments wish that everyone would work, to increase the national income and also to pay taxes. So what did Thatcher do that is not happening now. Continue reading “Big Society: One size fits all?”
Do You Mean Business?
VS Magazine February 1990
Some people think that you just get an idea, a bank loan and then you are in business. This may be true for a few people, but for the majority of us it takes a little longer. Ade Sawyerr looks at the strategies that you need to apply when you say ‘I want to start a business, and mean it’.
• You need to have a sound idea of the product or service you want to supply.
• There must be a viable market for which demand is likely to grow.
• You need to be committed, dedicated and willing, with relevant technical and management skills and experience which can be applied to the enterprise.
• You should have a solid capital base and avenues for credit should be available to you,
• You need to get information on the various support initiatives, training courses, management and technical assistance packages available which help to create an enabling environment and without which many ventures will fail.
Continue reading “Do You Mean Business?”
I am trying to bring together all these articles That i have written over the years to this site
I wrote this article long ago and i suspect that my views may have changed. It was in response to a challenge from Sydney Casely Hayford who was always bugging me about writing something.
Focus this Month – Business in Ghana – July 1993
Supporting Entrepreneurial Activity
When political freedom is disturbed in Africa it is often because of economic Issues. We find that most organisers of coup d’etat give economic mismanagement as one of the main reasons why they take over governments. Other reasons are corruption and misuse of government power for economic benefit. Economic prosperity is therefore an issue for the maintenance of democracy since stability in the economy will leave disaffected army officers without a good enough reason to disrupt the democratic process.
The main premise of the article is that for African countries and Ghana in particular to ensure economic growth with stability the governments will need to entourage true entrepreneurial development. Governments should completely free the the micro-economic from their control and meddling. Government has a role to play, but that role is not direct involvement in he productive sectors.
I hope that this conceptual article will stimulate debate on the issues raised in it. It is being written by a Ghanaian abroad who is also looking for answers to the lack of entrepreneurial development in Ghana.
Continue reading “Supporting Entrepreneurial Activity in Ghana – 1993”