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Dragon to Breath Fire for Ethnic Minority Task Force

22 January 2009

SEEDA has welcomed the appointment of James Caan, the entrepreneur and star of the BBC’s Dragons’ Den as the new Co-Chair of the Department of Business’ Ethnic Minority Task Force.

The appointment was announced by Lord Mandelson following the sixth meeting of the Task Force.

James Caan’s responsibilities will include providing a strategic direction to the Task Force, and opening up discussions with banks and financial institutions on ways in which the Government can better support black and minority ethnic (BME) business owners.

Pam Alexander, Chief Executive of SEEDA and co-Chair of the national Women’s Enterprise Task Force, said:

"I am delighted to be working closely with James Caan as co-Chair of the Department of Business’ Ethnic Minority Taskforce. James’ considerable business experience will provide a welcome steer for our work.

"In the present circumstances the value of ethnic minority and women-led businesses to the South East economy is as important as ever and access to the best possible advice and opportunities vital to their future prospects.

"The two Task Forces work closely to highlight barriers to success and ways of supporting progress and growth."

Speaking of the appointment, Lord Mandelson Secretary of State for Business, said:

"It is more important than ever that we create an environment where anyone with ambition, passion and a good idea - no matter what their background - can succeed.

"I am delighted that James Caan is joining the Ethnic Minority Business Task Force. His entrepreneurial expertise and business acumen will further build on the Task Force’s work in removing barriers for BME business owners.”

James Caan said:

"I am pleased to be working with the Ethnic Minority Business Task Force which is a very important initiative.

"The Entrepreneurial sector of the Economy has always been where my passion lies and to which the Ethnic Minority group makes a very valuable contribution. I am looking forward to using the same skills that I apply across all my business ventures to deliver tangible results.”

The Task Force aims to foster growth among BME firms and boost economic participation by BME entrepreneurs.

James Caan will take up the position for 12 months, replacing Adeeba Malik who stepped down in October due to work commitments in Pakistan.

Notes to Editors

1. The Task Force is jointly funded by the Department for Business and England’s Regional Development Agencies (RDAs).

2. The Ethnic Minority Business Task Force was established with two co-chairs to ensure RDA engagement as well as the interests of the business community.

3. The Task Force held its first meeting in November 2007. At that meeting the members agreed the priority areas for action: Business support; Procurement; and Access to Finance.

4. James Caan will also lead an investigation into why ethnic minority businesses face additional barriers in the current climate. This document and the recommendations will be made available in July.

5. Tom Riordan, Chief Executive at Yorkshire Forward, was appointed as Co-Chair when the Task Force was created in 2007 and will remain as Co-Chair with James Caan.

For SEEDA media enquiries, please contact:

Tanya Reed, Media Relations Manager
Tel: 01483 470 155

James Fulker, Press Officer
Tel: 01483 470 155

For BERR media enquiries, or to request an interview with James Caan, please contact:

Sarah Carlin
Tel: 020 7261 8318

For more information please contact our press office

Tel: 01483 470155