Social enterprise policy 'excludes black and ethnic minority groups'

Third Sector Research Centre finds that few BME groups have been involved in arrangements for the Olympic Games, despite the government's stated intention

Vandna Gohil, director of Voice4Change England
Vandna Gohil, director of Voice4Change England

Government policy on social enterprise is likely to exclude black and ethnic minority groups, according to new research by the Third Sector Research Centre.

In Social Enterprise and Ethnic Minorities, published this week, the centre found that even though social entrepreneurial activity was growing in the BME third sector, the groups involved were often less engaged with policy and had unequal access to mainstream support infrastructures.

Leandro Sepulveda, one of the authors of the paper, said social enterprise helped meet specific community needs, create employment and develop networks and social capital among minority groups.

"But social enterprise policy, under both New Labour and the coalition government, has been focused on the delivery of public services within which the scope for participation by small-scale BME organisations is highly restricted," he said.

"Social enterprise practices are likely to exclude such groups unless they are built upward from existing BME activity."

The centre interviewed 200 BME organisations last year in five east London boroughs where the 2012 Olympic Games are to be held.

The paper says that the promised benefits of the Games included the participation of BME groups in its preparation and delivery, particularly those involved in social enterprise. But it found that at the time of the research all but eight organisations said they had not benefited from any opportunity related to the Olympics.

Vandna Gohil, the director of Voice4Change England said: "We call upon the government to acknowledge and act upon these research findings by increasing support to BME social enterprises.

"Without this support, the unique social impact of BME social enterprises will be lost and deprived communities face further disadvantage."

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: "We continue to support the strong culture of social enterprise in BME communities.

"We work to ensure our policies encourage the growth of all social enterprises and do not agree that they are alienating BME organisations. We will, however, consider this evidence as we continue to develop our programmes."

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