Many black businesses, who contribute enormously to Birmingham’s economy, have been severely hit because of COVID-19 and recent start-up businesses are at risk.
Financial support from the government is available. However, applications have been particularly low from the black community due to lack of communication and trust, knowledge or access to community leaders.
Now, CJ Webley, a young playwright and theatremaker from Birmingham has founded THE BLACK POUNDS PROJECT which, through its own fundraising, aims to be the conduit needed within the community to help black business owners access business and financial support.
CJ said: “The most important thing for us at The Black Pounds Project is to make it possible for black business owners, however small, to access the business and financial help that will help them to kick start their business. We want to breakdown barriers, build up trust and confidence and work alongside them every step of the way at this unprecedented time.”
Since the initial Black Pounds Project fundraising page went live in June, CJ has dedicated his time to develop the project further so that black businesses can not only apply for available funding but, if successful, will receive access to professional business mentors across a range of sectors who will provide quality advice including:-
- Professional development, coaching and mentorship
- Funds to help with set up costs, business and digital strategies
- Signpost black owned SME’s to local business networks
- Training to support businesses in becoming legally and regulatory compliant across all areas
Paul Faulkner, Chief Executive at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce commented: “It is imperative for us as business leaders and consumers to do all that we can to ensure the black community have equal access to the support streams which will allow them to grow and sustain their businesses.
I applaud CJ for creating this initiative and am delighted that they are actively engaging with our regional business community as a member of the Chamber. I very much look forward to seeing how it all develops.”
For successful applicants, The Black Pounds Project will support each business over a twelve-month period and, as the project develops, the team will compile a directory of high quality, professional black owned businesses that everyone can benefit from.
Pam Sheemar, Entrepreneur Development Manager at the NatWest Accelerator commented “The Black Pounds Project is a fantastic initiative that will provide the lighting rod that businesses need to grow and access support. Having a programme that is bespoke and aligned to black business owners provides relatable role models and targeted support. The access to the wider eco-system partners ensures that we all collaborate to support diverse businesses and SME’s.”
Applications for The Black Pounds Project will open on Tuesday 1st December 2020 and will be eligible for black business owners who are SME registered or a sole trader with a UTR number. Applicants must be residing in the West Midlands. Applications can be made via the website www.blackpoundsproject.org.
For those needing assistance with their application please email CJ Webley at firstname.lastname@example.org
Counsellor Sharon Thompson, North Edgbaston Ward (Birmingham) added: “I am delighted to be supporting The Black Pounds Project and would like to thank the team for keeping black businesses at the forefront at this time of economic uncertainty. This project will help to bring the community together. Therefore, I would strongly urge businesses to get involved as we take active steps towards a brighter more inclusive future. “
THE BLACK POUNDS PROJECT initially launched its fundraising page in June but in order for the project to support as many black businesses as possible during this time, further funding is desperately needed.
For individuals or large businesses wishing to make a donation please go to www.blackpoundsproject.org
- CJ Webley is a writer and theatre-maker from Birmingham and is one of the newly appointed Lead Artists for Lightpost Theatre Company at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, a scheme that seeks to improve the mental well-being of young black men.
- His new play Constructed will receive its world premiere at a sold out run at The REP in February 2021.