Ethnic Entrepreneurs Flying the Flag for North Wales Business; Minority Groups Are Increasingly Making an Impact on Business in North Wales. David Jones Meets a Group Dedicated to Seeing That Trend Continue
Byline: David Jones
HINK of those businesses run by ethnic minorities. What comes to mind? Chinese take-aways?Indian restaurants?
It's a sad fact that the majority of people in this country still believe big business is run by white,middle-agedmen. They forget that the Virgin empire was set up,in its early days,by a youngster barely out of his teens. They forget that Body Shop was set up by a far-seeing woman entrepreneur. And they forget that some of the biggest businesses in Britain today are run by members of ethnic minorities.
Tom Singh founded fashion chain New Look, which has branches throughout North Wales. Tat a Industries is a massive Indian IT company now aggressively expanding into the UK market and,in many ways,confounding the many critics who say more should be done to retain call centre jobs in Britain and stop the drain to Asia.
Yet someone from an ethnic community who wants to go into business still has to negotiate many hurdles.
The Ethnic Business Support Programme, which has helped dozens of businesses set up in South Wales, now has two officers working in North Wales.
Jayesh Patel is based in Wrexham, while Sh a Siddiqui works on Anglesey.
Naturally,much ethnic investment has focused on South Wales, where the majority of Wales' 300,000 members of minorities live.
``The service has been highly successful in South Wales,'' said Patel, ``and we're looking to do the same in the north.
``We were set up as a WDA-funded project to cater for start-up companies, bridging the gap between the needs of the ethnic minorities and the ways they might realise their business ideas.
``We are there to help when mainstream providers cannot provide the services these new businesses need.''
He added: ``Every client's needs are very different. We're very much involved in self-confidence building and we also try to break down the language barriers, which can often be a problem.''
So far,in North Wales, there are around 20 active clients on file,people like Samunder Singh, who is about to set up a company offering Punjabi foods. The Colwyn Bay outlet will be the first such business in the region.
Then there's Allen Mbengeranwa,a young entrepreneur from Bangor, who used the services of EBSP and Antur Dwyryd Llyn to set up a company specialising in environmentally friendly solutions for used car tyres.
``But one problem we have is that once we refer people on to mainstream services, we can't always track them down and we don't always know whether they have gone on to set up their businesses,'' saidPatel.
``We are dealing with all kinds of businesses. We estimate that there are around 40,000 people from ethnic minorities living in North Wales; 1pc of the population. But that 1pc is 10 times more likely to go into business with many of the 40,000 people living here considering becoming self-employed. ``We're not expecting too much too soon,''he added. …