Local designer creates ‘Black Pound’ coin

pile of coins

South London based Jamaican-British designer Leah Jacobs-Gordon has created a Black Pound coin for popular Jamaican drinks brand Wray & Nephew.

It is part of a drive to raise awareness of the challenges faced by UK Black business owners and entrepreneurs when it comes to getting funding.

Research by Wray & Nephew found that nearly a third (29%) of Black business owners have struggled to raise funds, with one in eight (13%) twice as likely to have to wait up to two years for a business loan compared to non-Black business owners.

The Black Pound release comes as Wray & Nephew’s pioneering Wray Forward programme opens applications to Black entrepreneurs for a second year.

Together with Foundervine, a social enterprise that helps Black businesses, the programme offers access to free workshops and masterclasses supporting Black-owned businesses to scale up, expand their networks, and discover new opportunities.

Jacobs-Gordon’s coin was created for Black Pound Day, the biggest Black-led economic movement in the UK, with Wray & Nephew.

The ambition is for the Black Pound to be a reminder in people’s wallets to support Black businesses.

Just 500 Black Pound coins, which are not legal tender, are available free to consumers who are over 18 and show their support in Black Pound Day’s two Westfield stores, which stock over 150 Black businesses. Unfortunately, neither Westfield Stratford nor Westfield White City is close to Brixton. The offer is only available in-store and is capped at one coin per person.

Black Pound Day has raised the profile of more than 1,500 Black-owned British businesses through its directory and marketplace.

The coin features an illustration inspired by the diversity of Black British community and culture, including country flags from around the world.

close-up of face and hand holding coin

So Solid Crew member Swiss, founder of Black Pound Day, said: “Whilst we started Black Pound Day in 2020, I initially had the idea in 2007, but ironically couldn’t get it off the ground due to a lack of resources available to Black-owned businesses.

“Since launching, we have exponentially raised the awareness of spending with Black businesses, and our two premium retail locations allow thousands of conscious and ethical consumers to access a unique and broad range of under-represented brands.

“As well as encouraging consumers to buy from established Black businesses, we have grown our organisation to support aspiring and existing business owners.

“So this month, we launched our first charity, BPD Global, which will offer tools and resources to the African Caribbean community to start their own business and gain financial independence.

Almost seven in ten (68%) Black entrepreneurs surveyed by Wray & Nephew said there are not enough business tools and resources available to Black entrepreneurs, and three-quarters (76%) said they would have found business success much quicker if such tools had been offered.

The study revealed Black female entrepreneurs are forced to hold out the longest for a business loan, with the average wait being seven months. 

Wray & Nephew’s study on the disparity of British business owners highlighted that more than half of Black entrepreneurs (56%) launch their businesses with personal savings, while only a fifth of non-Black entrepreneurs start-up with family and friends gifted capital (20%).

A third of Black business owners said they had struggled to find the funding or loans required for their business.

Chris Dennis, Wray & Nephew brand ambassador, said: “We wanted to create a physical icon with the team at Black Pound Day to help put Black business spending on consumers’ radars, and encourage more people to support the incredible products and services provided by the varied and exciting business community.

“As a brand which sits at the heart of the African-Caribbean community, it is so important for us to support the entrepreneurial nature of this community. 

“Through the Wray Forward programme we hope to inspire and facilitate the next wave of Black businesses to find success, and continue year on year to build on the 1,365 Black business founders we supported in our first year.”