New ‘Bounce Back’ funding for Birmingham entrepreneurs

A group of black business owners in Birmingham have been awarded grant funding aimed at helping them battle back following the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The entrepreneurs were handed the capital after pitching and winning access to a share of a £30,000 pot which has been made available to small businesses from the city’s African and Caribbean community.

The Bounce Back programme was delivered by West Midlands charity First Class Foundation and business consultancy She’s the Boss, on behalf of Birmingham Voluntary Service Council.

The seven-week initiative included a series of peer support, advice and information sessions to support local businesses recovering from the impact of lockdown.

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Applicants attended two panel sessions to present their business ideas and explain how the finance would support the delivery of an activity or support an aspiration, with 14 of the 26 who applied each receiving more than £2,000.

Among the recipients was Vanessa Kelly, the 38-year-old owner of community interest company 2 Much Passion.

She applied to the fund to help her African and Caribbean food business to change direction and expand its digital presence.

“We’ll be using the funding to develop online cooking classes that will enable us to grow our business,” she said.

Nathan Dennis, who runs First Class Foundation with his wife Sabrina, said the Bounce Back programme had been an effective vehicle in bringing small businesses owners from the black community together.

“We’ve been able to better understand the issues many of our local businesses are facing and provide expertise and peer support to help them,” he said.

“We’ve also been struck by the openness displayed by participants, the breadth of activities and services they provide and above all, their commitment to the communities they are seeking to serve.”

Ray Walker, partnership and delivery manager for covid recovery at Birmingham Voluntary Service Council, said: “We are delighted with the work that has been done through the Bounce Back programme.

“It has been well received by the participants and the money will be used well to progress and meet the needs that were explained in the sessions and to the panel. We are now exploring ways to build on this work.”

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