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Clegg calls on banks to support ethnic minority entrepreneurs


Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has urged the banking industry to do more to support ethnic minority entrepreneurs.

Speaking yesterday at a meeting in Manchester with senior banking figures, Clegg called on British banks to do more to enable people from ethnic minorities with the "aspiration, drive and ambition" to become their own bosses.

"It is vital that all businesses have fair access to viable finance as the country looks to rebuild the economy," he said.

"There is much more to be done to make sure that entrepreneurs from ethnic minorities have a fair chance to achieve their goals."

His words came after a report published yesterday revealed there are still substantial barriers preventing black, ethnic and minority groups from accessing banking support.

Clegg commissioned the Ethnic Minority Businesses and Access to Finance report in 2011.

Improving access

As a result of the findings, the Government has agreed with the British Bankers' Association (BBA) that the banking industry will commit to a series of measures to improve access to finance for ethnic minority business groups.

Hazel Keating, European HR director at financial services firm State Street welcomed the move, but said banks still need to offer more support.

Speaking to HR magazine, Keating said: "Frankly, not enough has been done. But it will happen. It needs to happen, and there are a few banks like ours who are targeting this directly by supporting ethnic minorities to grow confidence, experience and self esteem."

Keating also called on banks to give ethnic minorities the opportunity to work in the banking industry.

"I'm a big believer that we can balance this out by investing direct in this pool of talent but sometimes it requires the support of the families of these ethnic minorities too to ensure that this pool of talent is allowed to be accessed," she said.

"The war for talent is not about a shortage of skills, it's about access to a wealth of it."

No discrimination

The report found no evidence to suggest the challenges faced by ethnic minorities were down to racial discrimination.

The BBA has agreed to fund independent research into the experience of people from ethnic minorities trying to access finance and will also carry out work to engage with ethnic minority groups.

"Banks are committed to tackling any perception that ethnic minority-led businesses are less able to access finance and to ensuring that all entrepreneurs feel confident about approaching their bank for finance."