Why are there so few black-owned firms? (Challenging the Mindset of our Generation)

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Has anyone else noticed the huge lack of black owned shops, businesses particularly in the western society? Why are there even so few black anything?

Okay guys, so after reading an article not too long ago from the financial times regarding the massive growth of Indomie in Nigeria published last year, I was left with a bitter-sweet feeling. For our readers that are unfamiliar with the brand, Indomie is the number one noodle brand in Nigeria, dominating a whopping 70% of the market. Whilst it is great to see our favourite (and I am sure most Africans will agree) snack doing very well, it left me observing and wondering why products that are heavily consumed by blacks are not being sold and distributed primarily by other blacks?

As a Nigerian female that has been living in the UK for almost 15 years, I do have to say for example, that in all these years I have yet to come across a black-owned shop primarily selling hair products for blacks. Speaking from experience, the trend I have observed is that it is mainly Indians that have done and are continuing to do so. Perhaps a simple observation, but it is one that largely holds true. Hear me out. According to the London 2011 census,  Asians make up 18.4% of London’s population whilst blacks make up 13.3% of the population.

Breaking down the percentages you can see from the tables that individually, there are more black Africans alone than Indians or Chinese. Though this was taken three years ago, In one of the world’s largest cities where whites of any sort make up almost 60% of the population, There are still significant numbers of corner shops, small boutiques, small banks, and even petrol stations owned by Asians talk less of the black hair business. For the Chinese and Thai, this is the restaurant on the high streets of most (if not every) town and leisure park, and the popular takeaway during family time or those quiet evenings when we are too lazy to cook. All things aside, it seems that other ethnicities are more apt to form start-ups, to be adventurous by getting out of their comfort zones, and to learn new skills. With just as much resource available and as one of the largest ethnic groups in the UK, why does it seem as though blacks are just playing catch-up?

I am almost certain that for 99% of you reading this, our parents have told us at some point to, ‘Study hard, get a good degree, and then find a good job.’- The logic and pathway to success in our parents’ generation, mostly uniform. To deviate from this ‘norm’ was rare, with little thought nor advice given as to what happens after one gets a job. Some of our parents may have placed too much emphasis on an education, forgetting to teach us to nurture our talents, developing skills in extra-curricular activities such as swimming, learning a musical instrument or a language.

The funny thing about blacks and stepping out of our comfort zones is that not only do others recognise this trait; they recognise it socially enough to create a meme. The meme, circulated on facebook and twitter depicted a typical ‘black pool party,’ except there were no blacks in the pool. As funny as this might sound, there is some truth to this. Whether it is our lack of swimming skills (most likely), fear of water, or for the ladies not wanting to get our hair wet, or not escaping from our clique ( and for those people at parties who won’t bother to say hi because they don’t know you – you know who you are!) , some of us just somehow have this laissez-faire attitude with regards to learning new things and being in a different environment. Some simply lack the energy, drive and motivation to ‘do’. Are we just complacent? Or are we just refusing to take risks no matter how calculated it is?

For some of us living here, our home countries are in pretty bad shape, but with lots of opportunities for growth. Whilst we cannot all be entrepreneurs, I am admirable of those who seek to do more to make an impact, of those who stand out from negative stereotypes, of those educate themselves out of ignorance and excuses, of those who not only are out there making the most of their talents and abilities, but also raising their children to do the same. In this era, there are plenty more opportunities and resources available for our generation which were not so for generations before us. We need not relax. We need more success stories in our news, and with mass media platforms such as Facebook, twitter, youtube and instagram in addition to the internet, a great idea can take off with a little networking. A trend can reach the other side of the world overnight, and unspoken words heard in minutes. For those who are comfortable in their offices, why not invest in something? What about your passions? As blacks, whilst are diverse, we need to start doing diverse things too.

In all this, I do acknowledge the growing trend of budding make up artists, hair stylists, fashion designers and bloggers amongst the younger generation. Perhaps some of us are working to mind our own business. Perhaps entrepreneurship is not just about owning shops, boutiques and petrol stations. Perhaps it is really about venturing out, setting positive new trends, and inspiring our communities in a positive way.  With this, we can choose to pick a spot and start digging.

 

What are your thoughts? Let us know by leaving a comment!

 

Chi Eneje x

 

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3 replies

  1. Well said. They say ‘every generation blames the one before it…’ In this particular case, I think it’s fair to lay a good amount of the blame on our parents for what seems almost like slack and catchup to other races in terms of entrepreneurship. Like you rightly pointed, our parents always have this obsession and over emphasis on education (Formal education) and oftenthink it as the only means to success hence ignoring talents that may have be nurtured. I have thought about possible reasons why this is so amongst black parents and can only reach two conclusions : They were shallow in their thinking and lacked foresight or they were just too scared and decided to play it safe by hammering on school and formal education by fire and by force. Not taking anything from the need for education, I do think they fell victim to both I.e shallow thinking and their fears of not seeing their children ‘progressing’ which is only measured by his/her academic performance. Education is not wrong but what is, is having parents who would rather spend three yrs paying 9k pounds for their child who is enterprising and has little to no interest in going to school. All in all, everything is done in good fate but the truth of the matter is blacks are very behind and our mentality to life and success has to change for us to move forward and catch up.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, so much truth in this. Really enjoyed reading!

    Like

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