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Wray & Nephew launches fund to support Black businesses

One in five UK Black business owners have struggled to raise funds for their companies, according to research by rum brand Wray & Nephew, which is offering grants to Black founders as part of a renewed scheme.

Wray & Nephew launches fund to support Black businesses

Campari-owned Jamaican rum brand Wray & Nephew has announced a pledge to support UK Black founders and businesses.

Its Wray Forward programme, now in its third year, has been launched in partnership with Foundervine.

The free programme aims to support Black founders across the UK by giving them access to funding of £3,000, £1,500 and £500 respectively, through a series of pitch nights where entrepreneurs can share ideas to grow their businesses.

Research conducted by Wray & Nephew found that more than two thirds (68%) of Black entrepreneurs believe there are not enough business tools and resources available to Black entrepreneurs. One in five (20%) Black business owners said they have struggled to raise funds for their companies.

Wray Forward, which first launched in 2021, will connect entrepreneurs with investors in order to help them grow their businesses.

Izzy Obeng, co-founder of Foundervine, said of the initiative: “Black founders face numerous limitations, including restricted access to capital, networks and opportunities. In 2024, we’re aiming to help more Black founders and entrepreneurs by breaking down these barriers and providing tailored support and resources. We’re delighted to be working with Wray & Nephew to equip Black founders with the tools and knowledge needed to navigate the entrepreneurial landscape successfully.”

In addition to free-to-access expert-led workshops, the programme has added new offerings fo Black business owners, including:

  • Roundtable: a discussion covering a range of challenges in the entrepreneurial landscape and creating actionable solutions to be shared with a wider audience.
  • Founder Growth Circle: A private leadership community for growth-stage founders that builds a ‘personal board of advisors’ around participants. Founders will be provided with insights, ideas, support and answers. There will be four different Founder Growth Circle’s designed to serve four key sectors: Hair, Beauty & Wellness, Tech, FMCG and Creative Industries.
  • Networking Events: Gatherings where entrepreneurs can come together to connect, showcase their businesses and network with industry professionals.
  • Pitch Nights: Within four different sessions, six founders will be selected and have the opportunity to pitch their ideas and growing businesses. Selected winners will have the chance to secure a prize of £3,000, £1,500 and £500.
  • Wray Forward 25 List: Wray & Nephew’s list of successful growing Black-owned businesses and the entrepreneurs behind them.

Conversations on inclusion and diversity have taken hold of the UK drinks industry in recent months. The Drinks Trust, the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, are co-ordinating a drinks industry wide Equity Diversity & Inclusion programme with the stated aim “to create an inclusive and equitable UK drinks industry where everyone feels welcome, safe and supported”.

This is in response to the issues raised in the survey commissioned by Queena Wong and run by PROOF Insights with the first aim of the programme being to tackle safeguarding. Read more here.

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