BAME-led social enterprises face barriers to social investment

Black and ethnic minority social entrepreneurs face “clear structural barriers” to accessing finance, an event heard yesterday.

Speaking to the Commission on Social Investment, Henry Baptiste, director of Pathways Housing Solutions, said that investors need to be more flexible when they worked with organisations new to the social enterprise market.

The independent commission was established in 2019 by Lord Victor Adebowale, chair of Social Enterprise UK, to look into how the social investment market can support the growth of more organisations delivering social good.

Barriers

Pathways Housing Solutions, a Nottingham-based community interest company, has been commissioned to conduct research into inequalities in community housing by the funder Power to Change, Baptiste explained.

He said: “One of the key things we have found in the initial scope there is that there are clear structural barriers to BAME-led organisations in accessing finance.

“There are systems in place that create barriers to BAME organisations accessing finance – and not just finance [but] some of the professional and technical skills which are required in order to build capacity.”

Asked later in the meeting for more details, Baptiste said: “We continue to fight additional barriers and systemic processes that I feel other organisations don’t experience.”

He added: “The ecosystem around housing, including housing finance and housing development, is essentially run by white-led organisations with very few BAME-led orgs within that sector.

“Equally we are finding that there are very few BAME officers at senior decision-making levels or investment decision-making level.

“The traditional way of managing and commissioning investment decisions doesn’t necessarily work in favour of BAME-led organisations, but work to their detriment.”

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