Race Equality Week: It’s Everyone’s Business

Race Equality Week is a UK-wide initiative uniting thousands of organisations and individuals to address race equality barriers in the workplace. It exists to galvanise and maximise efforts in this space through a nationwide collaboration for real change.

It has been our mission at Hatch since we were founded a decade ago to level the startup playing field in the UK through providing opportunities to those traditionally excluded, or facing the most barriers to entrepreneurship. Race is a huge factor in access to entrepreneurial opportunities and so it is founders from racialised ethnicities that we primarily seek to support through our programmes, often intersecting with gender, age, and disability.

Last year 71% of founders on our programmes were from ethnic minority backgrounds, and we’re proud to have cultivated a vibrant community where these founders can build connections with people who have shared experiences and be present at our events and in our programmes as their authentic, amazing selves.

This has been identified by graduates of our programmes as both a big part of why they chose to join our community in the first place, and why they had such a positive experience with Hatch. 

The barriers: funding and networks

Research shows that race does have an impact on the entrepreneurial journey of founders in the UK, with access to finance and networks the key obstacles that founders face.

Nearly 50% of Asian and Other Ethnic Minority, and 58% of Indian aspiring entrepreneurs appear to have stopped developing their business idea because of difficulties getting finance compared with only 25% of White British founders. 

A report analysing data on 3,784 entrepreneurs who started companies between 2009 and 2019 revealed that just 38 Black entrepreneurs received venture capital funding. Alongside their teams, they received just 0.24% of the total sum invested. Race and gender intersect to further compound this issue, with 0.02% of total venture capital invested going to Black female entrepreneurs.

Two in three (67%) Black business owners have been negatively discriminated against in their past entrepreneurial efforts and 73% of Black business owners said they are concerned with not having access to equal opportunities.

The vision: an equitable landscape

Through providing support to underrepresented founders via our cohort programmes and community offering Hatch is working to transform the startup landscape in the UK. The impact that we can have on each individual founder we work with is a huge step in the right direction, but it is the knock on effect that this has on the entire system that makes the long-term sustainable difference.

Time and time again we have heard from founders in our community that their confidence had been knocked by not seeing anyone else like them in the sector, and that they felt isolated in their mission.

Through nurturing a supportive community of successful and impactful business founders from a variety of underserved backgrounds, the path for aspiring founders becomes clearer, more well-trodden, and less lonely. 

A London Chamber of Commerce and Industry report from 2022 highlighted many of the barriers faced by ethnic minority founders.

It said: “The economic contribution that ethnically diverse businesses make is enormous. Even by conservative estimates, this is about £25 billion and other figures suggest this could be as high as £74 billion.

Addressing the issues highlighted is crucial to maximising this and unleashing the potential of everyone irrespective of their background.”

Youth Business International's vision is that every young person, whatever their circumstances, is supported to turn their great idea into a successful business. Hatch UK is a vital member of our global network striving to achieve this goal. YBI is proud to support the work Hatch does in addressing barriers faced by ethnic minority founders, providing access to entrepreneurship for underrepresented young people across the UK

We know that our vision of an equitable startup landscape is within reach, and are pleased to be working with like minded progressive organisations across the UK and beyond to get there, including our funders, fellow delivery partners, and other innovative movements seeking to achieve equity in the sector. 

Hatch’s impact on UK race equality

We have always catered for ethnic minority founders at Hatch, and over the last few years we have ramped up the support we have been able to offer, opening up direct funding opportunities for founders, and running tailored events like our Black History Month pitch competition to connect founders with capital, customers, and community.

We know that it is important to address the two main barriers that have been identified, funding and networks, and further to this is another crucial aspect: visibility. To transform the landscape of entrepreneurship in the UK we have to challenge the perceived norms and celebrate the successes of those who are already making their mark, elevating the voices of entrepreneurs from ethnic minority backgrounds.

With that being said, hear directly from three Hatch graduates who are doing amazing things with their businesses:

Paulette Williams is the founder of Leading Routes. “We work with scholars in the Black community from prospective undergraduate students through to early career researchers, to provide information and support that helps people to pursue their educational and career aspirations. Through our consultancy services, we work with organisations to change processes and cultures that currently create barriers for Black students and academics.

“As a Black female entrepreneur, there are many occasions where I’m the only one that looks like me in the room and it can really make me doubt myself which can show up in other areas of my business. I am working on being kind to myself whilst acknowledging my achievements and abilities so that I can confidently move the business forward to where I know we can be.

“I’ve met an amazing group of women on the Hatch Accelerator who are encouraging and inspiring and I would love to see more women with access to support networks as they grow their businesses.” 

Donelle Grant is an experienced social entrepreneur, business mentor, holistic coach, and founder of social enterprise The Brave Project CIC.

The Brave Project CIC provides accessible culturally appropriate advocacy, mental health support and resources for Black, Asian and minority ethnic men and young people contemplating suicide, and for those affected by suicide.

“Launching and running a business has come with its challenges. As a Black female entrepreneur, I have experienced bias due to both my race and gender. The limited peer support groups, accessible mentorship programmes and lack of funding for Black female entrepreneurs at times created difficulty for me when obtaining funding. 

“This can be very discouraging for new Black female founders; this was especially relevant for me at the beginning of my entrepreneurship journey. My advice to other female founders would be to identify and tap into new business opportunities, dedicate time to networking, seek opportunities to develop your business and diversify your income. 

“And most importantly, it’s not where you start or even where you finish, what’s important is that you never ever give up.”

Drew Rogers is the founder of My Language Lab, helping children achieve academic success and adopt a confident and positive mindset.

She said: “For me, I don’t meet many Indian origin female entrepreneurs in my space so it can feel quite isolating.

“It’s all too easy to compare yourself to your peers and the competition but individuality and knowing that you are doing your bit to contribute as an entrepreneur, can be to your benefit.”


At Hatch we know that we are part of the solution when it comes to building a more equitable landscape in the UK, but race equality is everyone’s business and requires change across all systems. 

We would encourage any businesses looking to invest in up and coming talent from ethnic minority communities in the UK to get in touch and find out how they can directly support founders. There are also a whole host of small steps that small businesses can take to ensure they are building an equitable movement, from signing up to the halo code, to ensuring that they are reaching a diverse pool of talent when recruiting.

We are committing to continuing to invest in talented, ethnic minority founders across the UK, and continuing to make positive changes towards a better, more equitable future. What commitments are you making in your organisation, and what commitments do you think should become standard practice across UK businesses?

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