Why entrepreneurship shouldn't be an obstacle course for women of colour

Building a business is something that everyone should have the opportunity to do - but we know that some communities have more obstacles than others in achieving their entrepreneurial dreams.

Just 11 per cent of women of colour business owners and founders said they would approach a bank first if they needed financial support, according to recent research conducted by Santander. Even more staggeringly, only 1 per cent would approach a bank first for non-financial support for their business, instead choosing to rely on family and friends for help. Added to that, over half of those surveyed by Santander UK said ethnicity was a greater barrier to growing their business than gender. 

It's clear from this research that as an industry the banking sector urgently needs to address how we reach a wider audience, especially those who stand to benefit the most from our support. It's crucial that we listen and understand the challenges of these fantastically inspirational founders and future business owners in order to be able to make real change happen.

An obvious lack of role models has made it even harder for women of colour entrepreneurs. That's why we formed our Steering Group, collaborating with ten wonderful founders to build trust in financial institutions, tackle unconscious bias and promote positive role models.

Being an entrepreneur requires passion, resilience and true grit. However, with added obstacles like ethnicity and gender we face losing generations of talented entrepreneurs if we don't act now. We have a clear remit to support these businesses to thrive, and I?m proud to be a part of laying the foundations for others to follow.

So don't wait for others to follow, be a leader like us and come and hear more about our programme, the research we?ve undertaken and how the Steering Group is informing and shaping our response. On 4 June at UK Finance's webinar Unlocking opportunities for ethnic minority business owners we will debate how we can work together to build trust in financial organisations. and by doing so try to create a safe and open environment in which all businesses, regardless of the ethnicity, gender or background of their founder can grow and prosper.

Louise will be a panellist at our forthcoming Unlocking Opportunities for Ethnic Minority Business Owners webinar on Friday 4 June.

Chaired by Stephen Pegge, Managing Director, Commercial Finance at UK Finance, the webinar will discuss the contribution EMBs make to the UK's economy, the role they play in exports, how this links to economic growth and what more can be done to create the conditions for business success. Learn more and register for free here.

Area of expertise: