The importance of diverse communities
- 29 Nov 2022
- Nadine Campbell
Being supported by and working with a community provides many benefits. Every group, no matter their heritage, will succeed at a higher rate if they are surrounded and supported by others who share the same positive intentions. Black businesses can thrive with the right support, mentorship and funding. So it's important to be part of bigger community networks like ACE Entrepreneurs, as this is how we can drive the future of diverse businesses, not just in the UK but globally.
“The ACE entrepreneurs community mission is to connect, encourage and support the growth of diverse entrepreneurs and their businesses, with the understanding there are specific nuances to being diverse in business”.
Entrepreneurs in general are often driven by both necessity and opportunity. So by creating communities, we utilise a mechanism for encouraging success. Creating and sustaining a successful business and/or brand is something that can't be done alone. Through community ecosystems, we learn how to navigate business systems inside and outside of diverse environments, we learn what the social challenges are and how we will address them.
With the ACE entrepreneurs community, the mission is to connect, encourage and support the growth of diverse entrepreneurs and their businesses, with the understanding there are specific nuances to being diverse in business. Here we can have open discussions in safe spaces without the fear of being adversely challenged, harassed or in the worst cases ‘blacklisted’ or ‘shadowbanned’ from other mainstream social platforms. Within the wider network, we are joined by allies and supporters, who we can also directly buy from or sell to, creating a consumer ecosystem as well. This is the important second stage to the community, we’re not just ‘talking’ about business, we are ‘doing’ business too. Finally, we are connecting the diverse community to wider professional networks and creating opportunities based on the connections our community leaders have. From all angles, this and other diverse communities are an important extension for both support and growth.
“It can be overwhelming and daunting to even start your small business... However, for communities like ACE, these are the exact entrepreneurs we want to support. Their businesses have a significant community need and can cause a ground swell if enough have the right mindset and guidance”
Communities are a great place to share resources and opportunities. Recently I hosted a free webinar with a global pre-seed global accelerator on how to get funded, with a diverse VC. I brought along my ACE community, as well as my mainstream network first to showcase diversity in VCs on a bigger stage and secondly to level the playing field with tips for all on how to get funded. This is how we extend and deliver inclusion. This is how community leaders can play their part.
How can a generation be inspired in business with a lack of representation from those of a similar background? How can small local start-ups maintain positivity if they won't be able to reach IPO stage, which is what many larger VCs and seed accelerators want; if they are to be interested in diverse businesses? It can be overwhelming and daunting to even start your small business on your own with this mindset. However, for communities like ACE, these are the exact entrepreneurs we want to support. Their businesses have a significant community need and can cause a groundswell, if enough have the right mindset and guidance, to start up and find their audiences to grow. There is no surprise some social business groups are over 250,000, these groups are in demand.
Many statistics show that diverse entrepreneurs are less likely to benefit from legal and financial advisory services, so having a community ecosystem of services and encouraging its use is imperative. The ACE Black Business directory covers 24 genres including legal, business and professional services, all led by diverse business owners, which increases the use of these services. Being part of a community allows learning and knowledge transfer in trusted environments and can encourage innovation.
Tailoring services to the community
Knowing what the community needs and the type of businesses we have, means we can tailor the services we provide more accurately
Lloyds Bank recently reported black entrepreneurs and business owners are seeking support and advice from friends (31%), family (26%) or turning to Black community groups or social media groups (29%) with only 12% approaching banks. Institutions are often not where the self-employed turn to, so here is where communities can fill the void. ACE showcases over 60 grants specifically for diverse self-employed entrepreneurs, nonprofits and charities. So while the process is still not guaranteed, at least it is targeted to the community and we have connected with another group to provide support in writing the entries. Knowing what the community needs and the type of businesses we have, means we can tailor the services we provide more accurately and increase take-up. This stands to benefit the community in the long run too, as brands and institutions begin to support more eligible, happier and healthier business communities, which often leads to more opportunities for mentorship and advocacy between diverse entrepreneurs and stakeholders in other business ecosystems.
As entrepreneurs, we need spaces to ensure ‘authentic’ inclusivity, where members feel comfortable in bringing their full selves to the table.
Creating a sense of inclusion helps people feel valued and that they belong, rather than being a token or a novelty. It means more than increasing time-based investment in black-owned companies and products, which is equally as important. Many entrepreneurs join communities as they have identified a problem, want to see if others have a similar problem and figure out how to solve it together. Being part of a diverse group empowers members and can be a place to find the exact advice that you need from someone that has been in your exact position. We intentionally lift community members up, inviting them into new spaces, giving them a seat at the table and providing a platform for their voices to be heard.
It takes a village…
Small businesses and entrepreneurs are the heart and soul of our ACE community. These businesses create a diverse ecosystem, so it’s really important to create a safe space where all community members are represented, celebrated and supported. Diverse communities are such an important resource; they are allies, supporters, and eventually friends. Our communities are the people that are going to help us where we want to be. It truly does take a village.
Meet the author
Nadine is an award-winning marketeer, serial entrepreneur, and diversity champion. As the founder of marketing consultancy The Digital Helpdesk and ACE Entrepreneurs, she is known for delivering exceptional work, which stems from her dedication, tenacity and passion to achieve in every role, no matter how big the challenge is. She has taken her 20 years of experience and become a disruptor in the freelance industry, running her business for over 10 years.
At the 2022 IPSE Freelancer Awards, Nadine took home the Freelancer Community Award and received a Highly Commended recognition for the Outstanding Freelancer Award. Nadine bowled over the judges through the way she put her considerable talents and skills to such generous use in supporting others.
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