Ormeau Business Park, with support from Invest Northern Ireland, has taken the first steps in implementing an Ethnic Minority Business (EMB) programme which will improve access to mainstream busines ssupport and entrepreneurial advice for the region’s 17,600 strong ethnic population.
The planned programme has been announced at the start of Community Relations Week, organised by the Community Relations Council(CRC), which will feature over 150 events across Northern Ireland beginning on Monday 7th March.
The central aim of the EMB programme will be to enhance the local economy by focusing on supporting and accelerating the development of ethnic minority enterprise in Northern Ireland. It has been created in direct response to requests from members of the ethnic community for a more formalised network of access to mainstream business support services.
Commenting on the EMB programme Patricia McNeill, Manager of Ormeau Business Park Ltd said:
“Through close collaboration with the Chinese Welfare Association, the Multi-Ethnic Resource Centre and the NI Council for Ethnic Minorities we intend to create a support programme which will help Northern Ireland’s ethnic communities to overcome many of the barriers they face when entering into the business world.
“With a significant percentage of Northern Ireland’s ethnic community living in and around South Belfast we are ideally positioned to deliver this type of support programme and enhance the economic potential of the surrounding area,” she continued.
Maurice Patterson, Manager of Invest NI’s Eastern Local Office commented:
“In supporting this planned programme we are responding directly to the specific business needs of our ethnic population. The project will serve as a visible access point for the ethnic community and facilitate greater integration of cultural minorities into Northern Ireland’s business landscape.”
To provide a better and more holistic programme of support Ormeau Business Park has engaged a consultant to undertake a ‘needs analysis’ study on the specific issues affecting ethnic minorities in business within Northern Ireland. It is anticipated that this study will be completed by the end of March and that the EMB programme will officially become active in May2005.
Welcoming the planned programme, Ramesh Rana managing director of www.openviewing.com,an on-line estate agency which helps homeowners sell their own properties said:
“I fully support Ormeau Business Park’s plan to increase and enhance the levels of entrepreneurship within Northern Ireland’s ethnic community. By improving ethnic minority access to mainstream business support services the community will be better placed to start and succeed in their own businesses.”