Suffolk Black Community Forum to launch InBiz1000
12:00 p.m. July 9, 2022
A vision to help create 1,000 black-owned businesses in Suffolk has been unveiled.
The Suffolk Black Community Forum initiative will launch this fall and while the long-term aim is to empower members of their community to take a risk they may never have taken, the scheme is open to all.
Roland Gilbertson, is the acting head of the forum for business, employment and the economy and founder of InBiz1000 which will take the form of an eight-month program.
He said: “Before the pandemic, we identified that there was a void in the economic space for black business owners. But during the pandemic, it has almost become more apparent that many businesses, especially most black businesses, were going out of business because they were forward looking and people oriented – so service industries, community businesses and social enterprises.
“What we’ve been trying to do from the beginning is to bridge the knowledge gap and also support as many people who want to enter the entrepreneurial system, as well as those who are in business to grow the business, grow it and become more sustainable.
“We want to change the landscape so that we can have more participation from the black community.
“We want to be able to break down and remove those barriers to give people the real picture of what it’s like to run a business and whether it’s for them or not.”
Employment is one of five areas the forum is focusing on, alongside education and empowerment, criminal justice and rehabilitation, health and wellbeing, and culture. and heritage.
Mr Gilbertson said: “There are a lot of risks in starting a business but the other thing that keeps people from starting a business is the risk of failure and some people would stop because of the risk of success, because how can I handle it?”
InBiz1000 is not just designed for new start-ups, but to help existing business owners, regardless of background, through masterclasses as well as provisions for those looking for key job skills.
Mr Gilbertson added: “For those who don’t think it’s for them, they may have other needs, and that may be through developing skills in certain areas or perhaps providing that overall support. We have a channel for that.”
For those who have signed up for the programme, they will have access to a wide range of mentors to discuss key areas, and businesses in East Anglia can come forward to offer their expertise.
Forum members shared their experiences after seeing firsthand what InBiz would look like to work.
Franstine Jones, BEM, said InBiz’s nurturing approach has helped entrepreneurs learn in their own way.
She said: “In 2018 when I was fired by the police and thought I was going to start my own business, I just relied on word of mouth because that’s how I I’ve always had my business. I thought that if I put myself in certain spaces and by word of mouth, people would ask me to do this, that and the other.
“It wasn’t enough for me, I ended up getting a job. This time I never want to go back to work. I want to be employed to deliver what I’m passionate about. They say if you deliver something that you passionate, you never work another day in your life and that’s what I want.”
The project aims to inspire younger generations to see others in their communities leading sustainable and successful businesses.
Franstine said: “For me, I think of Suffolk, it’s quite a rural area and Ipswich is the urban part of Suffolk. If a program like InBiz, if it supports people like us, then we can look at the high street and look for opportunities on the high street to have pop-up businesses where you can raise your profile.
“You’re meeting the needs of Ipswich, like bringing people to the high street because there’s more variety, and you’ll get a more diverse mix of people coming to town to watch what’s on. Ipswich.”
Karen Walker added: “It’s about seeing the diversity. As a young girl growing up in Ipswich I never went to the shops and saw many black owned shops.
“You could have someone who had a market stall, so why would I think growing up that I could have a business, I could run a store. It’s not about pop-ups, it’s about ‘to have permanent sustainable businesses in the city centre.’
For Imani Sorhaindo, Heritage and Culture Manager, she has now been able to work with Mind in Manchester with the help of InBiz.
She said: “I was fired about two years ago after turning 30.
“It was the shock of my life to be made redundant and you think what should I do? I’ve always had a passion for working with people and helping holistically. So I retrained and InBiz was there for help me from this embreyotic stage.
“Now I was able to go further with the services that I offer. InBiz was there with my vision and told me that I was not quoting my products correctly.”
Dennis Ojera, who runs an IT-based business after leaving an eight-year career at Suffolk New College, said the relationship with mentors has helped his business grow.
The forum is evolving into the Suffolk Black Community Organization – open forum.