Ethnic Minority Business are Fighting Back!


Ethnic Minority Business are Fighting Back!


MSDUK 2019 Conference Day Two. Business Show and Innovation Challenge

How do ethnic minority businesses in the UK survive and thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic? This is the biggest question facing MSDUK’s ethnic minority businesses (EMB) today.

The evidence is overwhelming, ethnic minority businesses are being hit particularly hard by the coronavirus pandemic and this is exacerbating pre-existing socio-economic inequality.  So, it will come as no surprise to hear that for 85% of EMBs cashflow and liquidity are the biggest issues.

With a commitment and determination to tackle these challenges and support EMBs during these tough times, MSDUK has been proactive.  As well as offering free 12-month membership for existing and new businesses, we are finding out directly from EMBs what specific challenges they face and what support they need from us. 

Since announcing this free membership offer in April, we have received over 100 applications, which expands our reach and bring new, dynamic businesses industries into our network.

Asking these questions is by no means a one-off exercise either.  Since the start of this outbreak, we have invited businesses to join a weekly meeting where they have the opportunity to come together, share their challenges and gain practical, relevant support.  

As we listen to our EMBs, we are shaping our support and activities to tackle the challenges raised – from effective negotiation to intellectual property rights – our responses have helped our businesses to survive and thrive.

Within two-weeks of lockdown EMBs proved that they are agile, innovative and resourceful.  The creation of our COVID-19 marketplace has seen global brands finding solutions to their challenges in procuring PPE products.  To date the spend via the marketplace has exceeded £2 million.

Collaborations and strategic alliances between businesses has also resulted in innovations that are now supporting corporations to emerge from lockdown. 

We have also explored innovative uses of technology to bring people together – on 22nd June EMBs, global corporations and strategic partners will come together for our first virtual Business Opportunity Day.  We will also be hosting virtual trade shows and an innovation festival as well as continuing to deliver our extensive programme of masterclasses and webinars.

So, rather than retreat from the fight or wait for others to find solutions, we are working with our EMBs to lead the charge, refusing to give up and uniting to tackle these challenges head on.

And it doesn’t stop there, business leaders also shared some of their concerns about the health and wellbeing of themselves and their teams during these times.  Some of responses have seen these leaders develop new, supportive relationships, offer practical advice even meditating together.

What can we conclude from all this?

For me, the leaders in the MSDUK network are proving that only by joining together, being committed to helping each other and adapting quickly can ethnic minority businesses survive and thrive in the ‘new normal.’ 

At MSDUK we will continue to listen and respond to the needs of the EMBs in our network, so our weekly meetings go on for as long as they are needed.  We would encourage our businesses to join these meetings, not only because you have so much to gain, but also because you have so much to give. 

Barbara Armstrong

Head of Membership & Business Engagement