THERE IS A SAYING that an economic downturn is a great time to start a business. All I know is that business is a constantly changing flux of science, skills, risk, foresight, luck, belief, and backative… As well as that, it is a whole load of other stuff in equally frightening unquantifiable proportions. It seems, to be set to run a successful business today, you need to be either at the end of your tether as regards your employment status on the plantation; or you need to be already out on your ear, and fed up to the back teeth, with the lack of job search prospects. Either way the result is the same… It's do-for-self time, which literally means war!
The greatest barrier to starting a business is fear. Once we overcome the fear of falling flat on our face, we are ready to begin. Once we overcome the fear of the authorities and the tax man, we have already begun. When we can overcome those worrying looks from friends and family still clinging to the idea of working for someone else for the rest of their lives, we are well on the way. To borrow a phrase from the upcoming Nation Of Islam event; "Business is Warfare!" Actually, business is just a component of warfare — albeit a very important part. But for some reason it tends to get overlooked, and pushed to the fringes in the wider scheme of certain sections of the liberation struggle. However, Liberation without economics is lip service… and economics without politics is chaos. Politics and business works hand in hand, which is why business people always tend to vote. Incidentally, that's another reason to form a National Afrikan People's Parliament, but hey, that's another story. Business drives politics, which turns the equation full circle, which is why, yes business IS warfare, but equally important, why Warfare is Business!
In the black community many of us don't believe in voting. What we do is, we do tend to vote with our feet, or we vote through our spending pounds. According to recent media reports black people contribute 300 billion pounds to the British economy… yes 300 billion pounds! Not too many black businesses that I know of are benefitting from that hefty black pound though, however, things may be about to turn. Black entrepreneurs/businesses are wising up: Banding together, and making use of Social media, networking events, and old school word of mouth in order to reach the masses. One such group, put on an event called: The Black Market Film and Festival, this month (April). Organised by Mark and Charmaine Simpson of Black History Studies, and held in Platanos College South London, the event showcased a whole host of emerging and more established black businesses, producing hair-care products, health/organic lifestyle choices, soaps, clothes, shoes, jewellery, books, CD's…
I took a trip down there with my JetBlakInk™ team and our very own intrepid presenter, Sis Sonia Scully. I for one was pleasantly surprised with what I saw… a large hall filled with Black businesses selling hand crafted African cultural merchandise. Black businesses on the up! Black businesses, who, for whatever reasons, are finding it hard to connect with us... their market! Well if you can't bring Muhammad to the mountain, I guess you bring the mountain to Muhammad!… and that is exactly what Black History Studies have done. They showcased a cultural market where the businesses didn't seem to just want to sell something to you, but there was an important message of "do for self" and "support for self" tied up in every single transaction. Not only that, but there were film screenings and educational lectures taking place simultaneously in another part of the event… cool.
After taking some time to sit in on Charmaine's Black Economics Empowerment Seminar, and watching the documentary: The Black Wall street — while boxing down some her husband's deliciously hot, spicy soup — it was time to return to the main hall. I was inspired to see one young brother, answering to the name: Nature, 10 years of age, who had set up his own greeting card business called; Nafasi — Cultured Cards by Nature. This young suited-and-booted home-schooled entrepreneur, wasted no time explaining that he already had outlets for his cards, in Stratford, East London, and was working on a website with his young counterpart… gwaaan my yooot! It was all happening!... BHS's second Black Market, and the overwhelming response from many of those attending, was to ask why we couldn't have one every week?… Why indeed!
Speaking again with Charmaine at the end of the day, she explained that there was a myth in our community that we as Black people don't have a business culture, a myth that could: "easily be dispelled just by the amount of different stalls present in the hall. It's all about harnessing that, and promoting that…" she concluded nodding toward the crowd. Her husband, Mark then piped up: "If you listen to what the media is saying, then you'll always be down in this economic climate, because you're following their structure, whereas if you create your own structure, in the words of Dr Claude Anderson, and practice group economics, that can only benefit us as a people"… Nuff said. I take my hat off to Black History Studies.
In iNAPP we are about encouraging black businesses, and we are all for group economics. That is why we have started promoting black business on our website through the enterprise tab. Get familiar with it! Over the next few months we expect the number of businesses on our website to grow. Out of that growth, we expect to see green shoots of group economic development and new opportunities begin to emerge. This is a collective opportunity to be a part of that growth. Family, this is our time, so let those of us who are running a black business, or are thinking about running one, seize the moment. Let us make the necessary movements, that register us as one forming a National Afrikan People's Parliament.