SETsquared Bristol Launches Diversity and Inclusion Project to Improve Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic Representation

8thFeb 2018

SETsquared Bristol has announced a new diversity and inclusion research project, which aims to increase the inclusion and representation of non-white business founders applying to the incubator.

Ashley Community Housing and Up Our Street have been selected as research partners for the project, which will release its findings in May 2018

The research project will enable SETsquared to combat identified barriers to businesses from diverse communities, and increase the support provided to non-white business founders and entrepreneurs in Bristol

SETsquared Bristol has announced Ashley Community Housing and Up Our Street as research partners for its upcoming diversity and inclusion research project.

The project aims to improve and increase the inclusion and representation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) business founders applying to the incubator. Research from 2017 shows that just four of SETsquared Bristol’s current members have BAME founders, which is not reflective of Bristol’s population, of which 16% are from BAME backgrounds.

Lead project researcher Zakiya Mckenzie, of Up Our Street, said:

“Up Our Street is very happy to be conducting research for an organisation that is willing to "walk the walk" and not just "talk the talk" where diversity is concerned. SETsquared Bristol is moving in the right direction, as there are quite a few hidden gems in BAME Bristol’s communities and it would be of benefit to the city as a whole to have these groups more integrated into Bristol's business ecosystem”

Currently, 28% of Bristol’s school children are from BAME backgrounds, meaning the non-white workforce will more than double in the next generation of workers. Because of this, SETsquared Bristol has launched this research project to identify the barriers that prevent BAME entrepreneurs applying to SETsquared for business support, and how to attract a consistently larger amount of BAME applicants.

In 2016, the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership identified the three main issues facing BAME businesses to be poverty and deprivation in areas with large BAME communities, holistic knowledge of business finance, and red tape and regulations. The same study also found that ‘BAME groups and business leaders are less likely to engage in mainstream business support’, but that 95% of businesses surveyed hoped to grow within the next year. 

Other perceived barriers to BAME business support include the perception of start-up support in the region, the language used around recruitment, founders not looking outside their immediate community for support, and persisting cultural issues including language barriers.

Abdi Mohamed, Director of Ashley Community Housing, said:

"SETsquared Bristol’s Diversity and Inclusion Research Project is a great initiative because it will give us an opportunity to explore the skills and experience that the BAME community can offer the high tech industry in Bristol, along with the challenges they face."

This is the first time SETsquared Bristol has partnered with local community organisations to conduct research, following on from the incubator’s 2015 research project to improve representation of women within their membership.

SETsquared Bristol Centre Director Emma Thorn said:

"We're delighted to launch our Diversity and Inclusion research project, to allow for increased representation across business incubation in Bristol. We're confident that Ashley Community Housing and Up Our Street are the right choice of partners to carry out this project due to their fantastic work within the diverse communities of central Bristol. We're really excited to learn and develop from the findings of this project."

Ashley Community Housing and Up Our Street will work together to determine the BAME applicant pool of entrepreneurs, businesses, and founders with the potential to apply to SETsquared Bristol, find out if they are aware of the support available to them in the Bristol ecosystem, and identify what can be learned from BAME founders of tech companies who have succeeded in incubators and accelerators.

Ashley Community Housing and Up Our Street’s research report with findings and recommendations for engaging with diverse entrepreneurs will be submitted at the end of May. If you have any ideas to increase inclusion and diversity in SETsquared Bristol’s incubator, we want to hear from you. To find out more about SETsquared Bristol activities, sign up to our newsletter.