Young businessmen story
Hakeem Duckworth-Porter (26 years old)
Founder and Director of HDP Consulting Ltd, est. 2019
My Mum and Dad always drummed into me the importance of working hard and working honestly, which is why I have always dreamed of running a business of my own that allows me to put something back into the economy.
I was under no illusions it would be easy. I come from a small family of Afro-Caribbean descent without any cash to put behind me, and I have had to work long hours to build a small home based agency. It is literally an operation that I run from my rented flat! It aims to bring together young professionals to provide advice, mentoring and analysis for companies and public bodies, on a range of subjects. So I provide employment and career development for others, as well as filling skills gaps for organisations. I recently reached the stage where I had built up a small client base over the last year that now allows me to devote my energies full time to my business. Although the business is growing, it’s still very much in its infancy. I am one of thousands of young entrepreneurs who collectively contribute energy and dynamism, in a wide range of fields, to our economy.
And then the current crisis took hold. I totally understand why the government has pushed forward with the lockdown. Saving lives is more important than anything else. But as we all know the economy is hurting badly. Since the crisis began, clients have put contracts on hold. Other clients are now delaying the payment of invoices. I don’t blame the clients for this: we are all facing the greatest fiscal turmoil in decades, perhaps even since the 1930s, and many realise that this difficult picture will last long after the nation’s “lockdowns” are lifted. But there is a clear cost of this situation. Entrepreneurs are the green shoots of the economy, its lifeblood. We are now facing a winter that could wipe out this future.
I do believe the Government has done a lot help businesses survive this Coronavirus Crisis, but it has critically missed out on helping home-based small businesses like mine. We are excluded from accessing the Coronavirus Small Business Grant scheme. So what next? What needs to happen now? I think the government needs to make a grant available for home-based small businesses. We are the smallest of the small. We need help too. If not, I fear that the next generation of businesses started by young entrepreneurs will be snuffed out in their cradles.
“I have had lots of concerned residents contact me who are slipping between the cracks of the business support packages announced by the government. There are lots of young entrepreneurs like Hakeem throughout Lambeth who are facing a premature end to their careers because they simply cannot access temporary support during these unprecedented times. If we want a quick economic turnaround when the lockdown ends, we have to back the business women and men in Lambeth who are going to be the engines of the recovery.”