Codkaagu yaanu ku ciilin; dooro qofka dantaada ka shaqeynaya – Doorashooyinka Bristol May 2016

Maayarkii 2012kii Bristol loo doortay wuxuu hoos u dhigay awoodii xildhibaanada golaha deegaanka. Xildhibaanadu “si taban ayay u arkayeen, halka hoggaamiyeyaasha bulshada, ganacsatada, iyo ururada bulshadu ay isku raaceen in hab-maamuleedka maayarnimadu uu dantii Bristol si fiican uga shaqeeyay.” Si kastaba ha ahaatee, habka maayarnimadu danta bulshooyinka magaalada degan si siman oo isku mid ah ugumuu shaqayn.

The only time I feel included is during the election campaign, says Somali voter – Bristol mayoral election 2016

The only time I feel included is during the election campaign, when politicians knock my door and convince me they will solve all our problems if we elect them,” … “As a Somali woman, the local elections don’t mean much to me because politicians become invisible after they get elected. And although I don’t believe they will keep their promises, I vote for them – same as many other Somali friends.

‘Somali youth in Bristol left voiceless’

The “Somali sex abuse gang” headlines had sent shock waves through the Somali communities in Bristol and in the UK – and elsewhere. Somali speaking media had shown interest … and many others had taken on social media cursing Bristol Somalis and accusing them …

The refugee crisis ‘is not one country’s problem, is the whole world’s problem’

Alex Raikes MBE: “Aylan Kurdi is one of many. We need his life to remind us that he must have not died in vain … People … can and should and must think it is not their problem – this [refugee crisis] is not somebody else’s problem, it is all our problem. This is not one country’s problem, it is the whole world’s problem. And this world is one world, and one global village.”

Al-Shabaab in the mafrishes?

A former Khat addict claimed that the effects of khat are so severe that it makes users become easy prey for Al-Shabaab recruiters. Abukar Awale appears to describe a process of slow deterioration of self-worth that eventually delivers vulnerable addicts into the hands of ready and waiting recruiters lurking around mafrishes (Khat cafes)…This view was further sensationalized and advanced by a Bristol based Somali NGO leader who on BBC Radio Bristol claimed that he had evidence, proving that Al- Shabaab was actively recruiting similar lost young souls in Bristol. The existence of evidence for both of these claims has not being made public – if they actually exist – by police and, in any case, both men ought to have gone to the authorities first to disclose it before approaching the media. Because going to the media first could have easily driven dangerous terrorist to underground and endangered civilian lives.

Poor staff retention is driving away customers

The staff turnover is exceptionally high because of the over reliance on family members and friendships networks to find employees. The perceived benefits for employers is that the informal relationship will help their business grow and avoid red tape as most of the employees would be employed on part-time self-employed basis. This perceived advantage is the real problem that hampers ethnic business development and growth.

Many businesses are making workers redundant in response to the global financial crisis. The argument has been that because of poor sales brought about by weak consumer spending and confidence, the high cost of employing and retaining staff is no longer financially justifiable. While this argument is credible given the difficult trading conditions internationally, most ethnic lead businesses in the UK have always been poor at retaining qualified staff. Many business leaders that have been approached for this article have argued that many of their former employees were unreliable, lazy and difficult to get along with. They went on to argue that many of them lacked customer service skills and had at times been dishonest and as a result were not employable.

Dishonesty in an employee should never be tolerated but conversations with these business leaders revealed that while they were all happy to discuss employee related problems they were ignorant to their own shortcomings as managers and business owners.

For any entrepreneur profit is the key goal as it allows for expansion and creates individual wealth. However, to be able to achieve success ethnic business leaders must invest in their most fundamental asset: their workers. Yes, having premises from which to trade from and the equipment with which to trade with is important but what use are they when you do not have the skilled man power to oversee the operation? Ethnic businesses have one of the poorest staff retention record in the UK. The staff turnover is exceptionally high because of the over reliance on family members and friendships networks to find employees. The perceived benefits for employers is that  the informal relationship will help their business grow and avoid red tape as most of the employees would be employed on part time self employed basis. This perceived advantage is the real problem that hampers ethnic business development and growth.

The most successful businesses employ workers who are great communicators, approachable and excellent relationship builders. They also work with management to promote the business and are generally the public face of the enterprise.  Staff retention creates a good working environment, higher staff morale and confidence which results in greater productivity. Customers also enjoy familiarity and strong staff retention will not only strengthen their relationship with workers but it will generate more customers as satisfied shoppers report back to their friends the excellent service they receive from the business. Customers shop in places which make them feel welcome, valued and appreciated. If there is high staff turnover how can customers build a relationship with the employees to feel all this? 

“I enjoy going to see my butcher because he is also a good friend,” said one customer of a Halal butcher store in Bristol. “The workers there know my order, the way I like my meat cut and they also sometimes give me a little extra because of my loyalty to the store.”

Another added, “I will pay a little more rather than seek cheaper deals if I have a good relationship with the workers of a shop.” From these customers what is clear is that a good relationship with employees keeps customers loyal and makes them feel a part of the business. Customers feel that by investing in businesses with consistent and well trained employees that they are investing in their friends and communities. Problems that may arise can also be easily resolved as customers can look back at the service history to know that the unfortunate events that caused the problems may be uncharacteristic of the business and employees involved. Furthermore, employees who have worked for an organisation for some length of time, if treated well, will feel proud of their business and this will be evident to all customers and can easily rub off on them too.

When recruiting staff it is always best to recruit those who are best suited for the job and to give them a permanent contract of work with clear responsibilities which they can fulfil. It is also crucial to provide them with fair wages that reflect their responsibilities and to reward exceptional performance.  Employees have ambitions, families and most want a career and not just a temporary job. This requires employers to train and support the personal ambitions of their employees if it is in their professional business area by providing them with training and opportunities that allow for self development and growth. Most ethnic bosses interviewed for this article admit that they offer no ongoing training support to their employees and those that do only offer the most basic in house. This is a recipe for disaster as workers, feeling that they will not achieve their ambitions, will leave regularly and either work for a competitor that offers them greater opportunities and takes customers with them or set up on their own competing directly with their former employers.

With fierce competition in all sectors, unreliable cash flow and greater regulation, there is a great deal for ethnic business leaders to worry about today. However, with greater consumer choice and a need for more personalised service to survive, these leaders must wake up to the importance of staff retention. They need to start treating their staff like colleagues and not subordinates as well as providing them with the training, opportunities and support they require to fulfil their ambitions within the business. These things can be difficult for all small business but if they do not act on it, they will either remain small forever or vanish completely.

Liban Obsiye



Every school can be a good school

Good inclusive school leadership, coupled with parental and community engagement, will inevitably result in successful local schools that communities can be proud of and rely on. Parents should not dessert local schools in times of difficulty and school leaders should not shut out external support service providers. The reality is that the majority of students are not going to get into these so called good schools because they are oversubscribed. However, what needs to be emphasised is that there are no bad schools. Schools are merely buildings. The interaction that takes place within them between all stakeholders is what makes some schools more successful than others.