Author Amanda Patterson, Business Research officer – City Business Library
This series of articles will explore the experience of Black Founders in London, from their initial experiences and exposures to business life in London, how London is growing and changing around them and how Black owned businesses are naturally contributing to building equal opportunities in Londons business landscape.
Abdul grew up in Bath before moving to South London – a cultural shift from a smaller city to a place where your polite “hello” in the street wasn’t reciprocated; however for Abdul, family and friends meant that conversely his community felt larger and more tight knit.
For Abdul, working and living in London was an obvious decision, after years of working throughout EMEIA, London is absolutely the place he knows best; it’s still the best place to work, find a job, build a business and connect with opportunities.
While London is a big beautiful city, for Abdul change needs to start at an individual level. “Too many times leadership or marketing make statements of change, then look to the only black person to tell them how and what they should do.” says Abdul, “I was so used to being the only black senior leader in an organisation that I thought it was how it should be.” So, true change has to start with the action to change yourself.
“I have seen a stronger solidarity this year owing to the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement. Black owned businesses are speaking up and looking for more help from the black community.” What interests Abdul though, is that for him, this isn’t contributing to building more equal opportunities – it’s supporting their own. A black owned pound only circulates in the community for up to 6 hours compared to other cultures where this is much longer. Why can’t black communities support black businesses – because there aren’t enough.
“Black businesses will invariably help people, and indeed often those of other minority races, gain a foothold in the employment sector. Black businesses give opportunities to black individuals who would otherwise be disenfranchised by the lack of opportunities out there for them. However, this does not solve the problem.”
“We need to break down the barriers to employment for black individuals in the major corporations of London. We need to establish an environment whereby black people are given the same chances to succeed,” says Abdul. “One step in the right direction is for black business owners to have conversations with organisations like the City Business Library, organisations that support and provide resources that allow organisations to flourish.”
Abdul thinks that the growing solidarity, the work to overturn the historical divisions between black communities instituted by society, the growing awareness and acceptance, which hopefully builds the impetus to talk about being black and in business, needs to be the start of foundational change, not another phase like that we saw after the death of Mark Duggan and the Tottenham riots.
“True change starts with the action to change yourself.”
“Come out of your comfort zone, talk and spend your money with black owned businesses, interact with black people from a human and genuine stance, not as a box ticking exercise.”
Abdul’s business, As1team, represents a sustainable legacy for his sons, to not have to struggle to get hired, or start their own business. To build his business over the last year took perseverance, hard work and actively turning down the volume on negative rhetoric about the black community. “Replace it with positive inspiration – wherever you can find it.”
Abdul has two businesses:
As1team Ltd is a business consultancy that helps organisations realise their strengths through leadership, sales and marketing. The results are shown via growth in the customers they win, but more importantly the engagement of their employees, growth in their culture and brand. You can see our website at www.as1team.co.uk , or find us on Linkedin or Facebook. I offer my support to any business with their D&I leadership or change transformation strategies. I have recently created and soon to launch a sales training program which will help Start-ups, SMEs or Large organisations upskill their salespeople to perform better. During these current times, I believe there has never been a more important time to engage, train and develop employees.
AMDT Properties Ltd was founded by my wife and I. The aim is to connect landlords with great tenants and ensure that property in London serves it purpose – creating happy homes. We launched earlier this year with our property management and lettings services and the numbers are going up every day. Our approach is one of personalisation. We don’t want to be one of the high street brands and we don’t compete with them. We do want to get to know you and what you are looking for so that both landlord and tenant have a great business relationship. We are always looking for more landlords especially with House of Multiple Occupancy as we have tenants who are looking now. You can see us at our website or on Facebook We will soon be launching the investment part of our business and are currently looking for investors who wish to grow their monies by working with trained professionals working in property.