Category Archives: Community Engagement

Starting you Own Group/Venture

This space has resources often to help you create or find a venture or group. Often if you are creating one then business plays a part as you want to be able to be self-sufficient from the start or near there if you are funded.

One of the difficulties organisations have is looking at a business model to begin with. The first question being who do I sell services to if people who are in need want to use it and likley cannot afford.

This can be answered by partnering with a local organisations or services and selling your service to them.  An example would be a day centre for vulnerable adults, the adults pay through their personal budgets to attend. Or a local authority pays for each person to attend sessions at a workshop your organisation provides as it finds it cheaper to use an external source rather than an internal one.

One thing to consider would be going to tender to get these services. Its where public services set out what service they need then your service shows if it ticks all the boxes and matches what the outcome of the service will be for the end user.

Organisations can also use membership or subscription to sustain itself depending on what you do in general. Like a business a organisation to be most effective must have a unique offering and benefit to the local and wider community. They can have a less unique purpose but there will be more competition for end users and funding. It may have greater challenges.

Check out the sources on building a organisation below:

Funding and Resources

Setting Up A Business

Social Enterprises information

Social Enterprise Body

Community Interest Companies

Charitable Organisational Structure

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Procurement

The theme this time is the three pillars of procurement, Accountability, Capability and Transparency. This is a wide ranging perspective on black based crowdfunding campaigns and promotions. In the black sphere/network there are people who will ask you to donate to there projects but there is a lack of substance.

I have yet to see a person who is well known to black people who has shown accountability, showing they will accept the plaudits of success as well as the consequences of failing to deliver. There is an example with the numerous videos out there where some people are talking heads, saying this needs doing but that needs doing, when clearly they are not looking at a way to look forward and use their energy to make things happen.

Some talk a good game, but when delivering then they can be found wanting, one way this could be started would be to create a pilot project, prototype then when it is up and running, measure the failure or success the measure how capable you may be with the real thing. This will show how capable you are to deliver the final product you would like funding for.

Committing to the development of a project, campaign or promotion is one thing, showing them value for their money is another. Many of the black talking heads are not good at giving updates, and if there are updates not giving credible ones, which are very vague. If a project is to be transparent, having access to the plans (as far as possible – if confidentiality or data protection), a clear direction of where the project is going and open access to the project. Clearly, some black projects are closed off and so it can be disappointing if you have pledged financially to the cause.

Based on what is said if all three of these conditions are like this then a project is not worth investigating on, we all make mistakes even I did (and I apologised see the blog). Think before you put time, money and effort into someone’s campaign as they might just be trying to create a wave with no foundations behind it.

Banks with food

I have noticed in the retail sector, I have seen there has been an increase in the use of food banks to donate food waste. This is usually in the UK open to registered charities who want to collect the food to feed the homeless and those who are on a low income.

This has led me to ask if black organisations have used food banks, I have through my work seen one black organisation, which is a food bank mainly a church but I have yet to see this on a wide-ranging scale. Black people are suffering as much if not more than other races, due to systematic racism (being denied access to jobs and housing) and are most likely to be on the breadline compared to other races.

I notice that there are a lot of churches and community groups signing up to have food banks and all is required is a charity number in the UK, though I am not sure what you need in the US for example. I know black people are proud people but going to a food bank makes no difference if you are poor or struggling for a month.

I have left a list below of food bank directories for the UK and the US if you were interested in working with one or wanting to set one up within an organisation you might work with or a religious group you are part off.

List of food banks in the USA:

http://www.feedingamerica.org/?referrer=https://www.google.co.uk/

List of food banks in the UK:

https://www.trusselltrust.org/get-help/find-a-foodbank/

A Pilot Campaign

Blacks who are creating projects should be looking at business and project management models, since they need to create something effective, efficient and sustainable to the lives of black people

I learned from as long time ago that a pilot project should be created before you get investment. Many businesses start of small and grow or show they have a following before they ask for investment or funding. This demonstrates to the investors that your idea is viable and it is what the people want. Its and example that action is more clearer than words. Some ideas are still funded or investment is provided if the initial venture has failed but the difference it can make with the right funding is great.

Some black people who crowdfund, have a service or product already which should be the point. Others want to start from zero. The crowdfunding campaigns, which are starting a project from zero will have a higher chance of not materialising, if no work has not started before the funding campaign started. There should be more clear plans and direction of the project at least and the market should be tested, not just through research but a prototype or as said above a small scale version of the project.

The main project/business can then be created, through having a business case which in summary shows:

  • The benefits 
  • The negative impact
  • The difference it will make

The most important aspect of the persons ideals should be the difference they can make as this can determine whether it will work. If you have no project already then its not likely you can see a practical benefit (no matter how small), rather than a theoretical one.

I follow this most of the time, but like anyone else if someone has a way with psychology and I believe I have done the checks to the best of my ability then I put my hands up, but I use it as a learning experience, just like you would.

Further Information

Indiegogo Guide to Crowdfunding

Shopify Guide to Crowdfunding

Inc.com guide to crowdfunding

Pilot Project Guide

Black Hibernation Month

For the months of October and February in the UK and America there are celebrations which look at the history and tradition of black people according to how the funders set the stall out.

The time when the celebrations are made are usually when it just starts to become dark or when it is really cold. In the UK it is dark and beginning to be cold in the month of October so events do get attendance but really you want to hibernate. In the US the month of February which can be warm or cold depending on which part of the country you are in.

The festival should be in both July and August as it is summer and most of the kids are on holiday and so it can be a time to reinforce the knowledge which people have about African history. There should not be one month of just history it should be a year round thing with the two months being festivals mirroring those in the main land of Africa, with tribal dances, drumming and story telling, and the talks which outline the importance of these activities.

Many of the topics of black history month look at social progress, though if you are talking about history, you need to look also at the political and economic factors. If you look at just the social factors then you have no economic awareness which means you rely on another group which is happening now. You should be able to get economic information about business owners, wealth black people and how you can help your communities through wealth and income, i.e. learning that money is not a contentious issue but an important on.

Politics is important too as we look at thinks on the surface and think just because someone was said to do good for black people they were good people. Rather, we should look at what the person did to improve our economic (wealth building, job creation and access to finances) situation. Like with elections, we need to learn how to get together and ask people how they will help us and what we can do to guarantee their assistance.

The reason I believe, there is political and economic factors missing in black history presentations and the same or similar people being talked about is the events are provided by the local authority. If your presentation is publicly funded then you will need to keep to an agenda, which is favourable to them. The better alternative is to have your own event, and listing it on websites within the local area you live.

There are places you can look which can suggest free or low cost buildings and rooms for rent to hold a presentation or event. The costs can be recouped if you do it through do nations or charge a price you think is reasonable for the event.

If you live in the UK and would like to find a venue for black history events or other events, you can find some here.

Further Information

Black History Month (UK) 2016

Black People and Coffee Shops

For nearly a decade now I have been going to coffee shops in my spare time, at first it was to write poetry and just detox on a Saturday afternoon after a hard week of working. Then it got to the point where I would go sometimes during the week after work, whether it was with acquaintances, project proposals or on my lonesome.

I noticed at this point in my early to mid 20’s that I was one of a few UK born Africans who was interested in going to coffee shops just to chill. I used to wonder why our people did not go to coffee shops in the 2000’s but it is for similar reasons why some still do not go now (though I notice more people in them these days). They would rather make the drink at home, though a coffee shop should not be seen as just a place where you go to drink a coffee rather a place to socialise, develop ideas, relationships or just disappear.

I find 8 years later that there are more people going to coffee shops who are African/black as more people are realising what you can do in a coffee shop and what you can discuss, without pressure of the environment or time constraints to finish your drink.

The Europeans use coffee shops to socialise and chill with each other, its only the British who think going to the coffee shop is a upwardly mobile thing to do or have it as a treat. I have noticed that coffee shops are beginning to open later and so more people who are from backgrounds which do not drink or drink little alcohol are meeting friends and family in these places.

Black people could begin to be more sociable by meeting in these places, rather than thinking there are few places to go maybe just enjoying each others company in a place where you can have a warm drink or cool drink (in summer) might be a good place to get your personal and professional goals off the ground.

To finish, I often go to a couple of well known coffee shops as I am allergic to milk so I get the milk free options. I sometimes go to independent ones, though my favourite coffee shop which had a great atmosphere decided to expand and lost the atmosphere, that is not to say all coffee shops are like that. Though some coffee shops are family friendly with child seats, as others are work friendly with chairs and tables whilst one thing which is guaranteed in all is free WiFi.

Black Based Food Quarter

In the UK it is that time of year where the sun should be out and the weather is much warmer. This means there are festivals up and down the country and this includes African and Caribbean based ones, like most cultures food is an important aspect, how its prepared and cooked which makes it distinctive from other cultures.

It is good that there are food festivals of African and Caribbean foods, but what would be a great thing would be if there was incentives for the food vendors to create more businesses in particular areas in the UK.

In the studying and working within the regeneration sector, one of the project which spring to mind which I worked on was a food quarter, which was used as a basis for developing an ethnic food quarter in South Wales. This was seen as a way you could get jobs and investement into a local area.

Like many of the blogs I have written previously, I am no expert and I am not just trying to talk about the problem, I would like to add something of value into the discussion which is actionable.

There are areas of cities and towns in the UK which have ethnicities stamps on them, just not the Caribbean and African Stamp. This is demonstrated by the South and South East Asians who have their own areas and towns, with restaurants, food shops and market stalls, like China Town and Pakistani and Indian areas, throughout the UK..

For example each area of the country where there is a sizeable South Asian population you will find a area with their businesses and restaurants.

For South Asians you have:

  • Curry Mile – Birmingham
  • Brick Lane – London
  • Golden Mile – Leicester

For China Towns they are in the following Towns and Cities:

  • Birmingham
  • London
  • Leeds
  • Leicester
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester
  • Scotland
  • Sheffield
  • Wales

These ethnic food quarters have tourist visits as they have a uniqueness to their food and goods. In African and Caribbean areas there are no food businesses which are open to tourism and the restaurants which are open, are usually all the things which are said to be part of a bad customer experience.

Based on the needs of black people in the UK and worldwide a food quarter should be created for various reasons. The main ones are for money to stay with in the community and for investement from outside. You can see this with the China Towns and the Asian area.

Asians (South and South Eastern) will shop within the food quarters for their own foods, goods and other items, but also you will see other races coming into the areas to eat food in the restaurants. If black people do create a food quarter we would need to make our food more neutral and appealing to the greater masses like the Asians do. This will be more economically prosperous for the black based food quarter.

The prices of the food would need to be more affordable, if black food businesses were to say organically create a food quarter in a particular area, the vision would need to be shared in regards to the direction which is taken, this would then make sure that there is a high standard of food and service delivery, something which is not necessarily in place at the moment, but can be worked on outside of the public sphere.

The service and food standards would be guaranteed by the level of training the businesses incorporate. Another would be the suppliers as there would be a need to buy from suppliers who supplied foods which the businesses could sell, which is safe and of a high standard. 

There are some good quality, product and customer service being provided by, black food businesses, but they are either not owned by black people or in places where the price is not affordable. This is fine for these places but then there is a lack of employment of our own people a food quarter would ensure we can create our own businesses but also employ our own people at the same time, with a stamp that we do live in the UK or which ever country we are in around the world (outside of Africa).

Further information

Balti Triangle (Birmingham)

Curry Mile (Birmingham)

Golden Mile (Leicester)

Food Quarter (Bath)

China Towns (Europe)

Birmingham Caribbean Festival