Head of Connect Derby Supports BAME Businesses Throughout Coronavirus
Ann Bhatti, head of Connect Derby, has been volunteering her time to help members of the local Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) community access financial help and support, during the first lockdown and now during the current wave of coronavirus restrictions.
Ann has organised a series of socially distanced meetings to help local businesses access the government's £10,000 Small Business relief grant and support available via Derby City Council and organisations such as D2N2.
She helped them complete forms, took copies of documentation such as tenancy agreements and utility bills, helped them complete online forms for the Valuation Office and sent it over to the business rates team at Derby City Council.
To date, Ann has supported 17 local businesses based in and around the Normanton and Peartree areas of Derby where she grew up. During lockdown 2.0 she has emailed them details of the new grant schemes and asked anyone who is struggling to ask her for help.
The Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) was introduced by the Chancellor in March to support small businesses in England with their business costs during the pandemic.
Research suggests that people from ethnic minority backgrounds are two to three times more likely to die from Covid-19 than other ethnicities. With many BAME businesses having a significant client base in those communities, these businesses have faced additional economic pressures.
Commenting on providing support to BAME communities, Ann said:
"During the first lockdown, it was reported that BAME-led businesses were struggling to apply for government grant schemes due to language barriers and their lack of understanding of business management. Many had not correctly registered with the business rates team or were struggling to prove they had been operating before 11 March 2020.
"In many cases, businesses simply needed guiding through the application process, which I've been able to help them by staging a series of socially distanced meetings in the community. I've also advised many more businesses by Zoom or Skype and signposted them to other organisations in the city."
Commenting on the help they have received, Shajhan Pervaiz, owner of Dessert Hub, said:
"My grant was delayed due to many factors. When I heard of Ann coming to help anyone in the area in a similar situation, I took advantage of this opportunity and went at once.
"She was extremely professional and polite, giving endless hours to a queue of business owners like myself and in return asked for nothing. Well done to Ann Bhatti - she is an awesome individual who cares about the minority which goes a long way for us all."