A black technology entrepreneur has called for finance companies to be open and transparent about their funding decisions to help release the potential of BAME businesses in the UK.
Fredi Nonyelu, the founder and CEO of Milton Keynes-based tech business Briteyellow, spoke out in support of the findings of a report on Entrepreneurship and Diversity in the UK.
The report, published last year by British Business Bank, found that BAME entrepreneurs get less good outcomes than their white counterparts.
Fredi, who chairs the Biztech technology forum in Milton Keynes, has been an entrepreneur for more than 20 years and spoke of his experiences at a Barclays Eagle Labs fireside chat in February.
“My challenge to private funders is for them to bring transparency and openness to their decisions – to actually measure themselves,” said Fredi. “Data does not lie. Once they have the data to measure their decisions against, it will improve.
“My goal is to get to equity. There must be equity all around, to get a fair playing field and the winner is the UK economy. Let’s get on and do that.”
Briteyellow is a smart-places-company focused on transforming the way people are experiencing indoor places like stations, airports and hospitals. Its technology for indoor positioning, navigation and guidance, helps operators provide a better customer experience and solve problems like losing your way in buildings or not being able to find things you are looking for.
But it has not been easy for Fredi to get the capital he needs to build his business at scale.
Despite having a masters degree and qualifications from business school he found it impossible to raise money.
“I knew it would be a waste of time in those days,” he said.
And yet he saw his peers raise money because of the network of people they knew.
Fredi Nonyelu called for young BAME entrepreneurs to have no fears, no barriers and no impediments to success.
“This report should be a really good starting point,” he said. “Because the impact on the economy is unbelievable if you have so many potentially smart businesses that can’t get off the ground, and are nearly twice as likely not to succeed compared to white-owned businesses.
“If this is turned around it can supercharge the economy.”
But Fredi says things are changing and these are “exciting times” because young people starting today can question these barriers.
“There is now data to back up what is going on,” he said.
“We need to be positive because there is no value in accepting the status quo.
“We must challenge it and this is the right time to challenge it, and we must be confident and keep pushing forward.”
The good news for funders if they release the potential of black founders is they themselves will become more successful, Fredi added.
And to fellow black entrepreneurs, he added: “Have no fears about funding – we cannot complain if we do not apply, irrespective of outcomes. Change is coming.
“But the support needs to be there, and change must be made at the top.”