On Saturday 14th October the UK Black Business Show, the largest event of its kind, was held at the Queen Elizabeth II centre in Westminster, and it was certainly an event to remember.
Founded by Raphael Sofoluke, the organisers of the much anticipated event had promised that attendees would be inspired and informed over the course of the day and they definitely delivered.
Bringing together business owners from a wide spectrum of professions from wedding planners to graphic designers, there was the opportunity for visitors to discover black owned brands that they could get behind and support. Among these were a number of businesses specifically catering to black customers, carving out a space in markets where black customers previously have felt excluded or misrepresented. One such stall was the Children's Author Corner which was tackling the problem that is the lack of diversity in children’s books by offering stories with black characters and that educate children on black culture and history.
The day offered much more however than the opportunity to buy, it was about the guests investing in themselves and their ambitions too, through networking with other like-minded, driven people and also by way of the talks and workshops delivered by industry experts. One such conversation was led by self-made business woman and former The Apprentice finalist Bianca Miller Cole, who had a packed room listening to her (and laughing with her) as she shared her journey to success and valuable advice on how to turn your business dreams into a reality.
Bianca Miller Cole is introduced
Along with presentations from other talented entrepreneurs including charity Brixton Soup Kitchen’s founders Solomon Smith and Dr Mahamed Hashi and BK Chat creator Andy Amadi, there was something for everyone, with successful role models from a variety of sectors there as tangible proof of what is possible when you put your mind to something and persist. The talks provided an encouraging reminder that there are already many black business men and women reaping the rewards of their hard work and that, despite the additional obstacles that can be faced as a person of colour setting up a business, it is possible to flourish.
It can be easy - especially when things don’t seem to be going quite to plan or you are not yet seeing the fruition of your investments and hard work - to want to give up or question whether you should continue with a business venture. Seeing and hearing from others who have been on the same journey (none of the speakers pretended that theirs was an easy or overnight journey to success), faced similar challenges, but have come out on top was important and reassuring.
Then there was the Dragons' Den style event which saw a handful of hopefuls take to the stage to convince the panel that their business ideas were the next big thing and worthy of investment. Here it was really great, in particular, to see the impressive calibre of two young entrepreneurs - Vanessa Boachie and Kori Adu who exuded confidence as they pitched their ideas. Adu was a deserving winner with the influencer marketing platform he is developing and bagged himself a trip to Barbados for his efforts.
Winner Kori Adu impressed the panel
Positivity and a sense of possibility buzzed throughout the space. Just being surrounded by so many talented people with their passionate ideas, strong drive and ambitions for success was uplifting and exciting. That’s what really made this event so worthwhile – everyone came away with a renewed eagerness and hunger to continue pursuing their business dreams, encouraged by others who are on a similar journey. There was a genuine feel of camaraderie and a desire for each other to succeed among the visitors, which was refreshing given that so often in business people are pitted against one another.
Kori with the panel of judges
Whether as a business owner, a customer, or someone considering creating a start-up or new business venture, the UK Black Business Show is an essential event for accessing the products, people and information that you need. As the first of what hopefully is now an annual event, this year’s show was just the beginning and it was incredible so we can’t wait to watch it grow into something even greater over the years to come.
To find out more please visit: www.ukblackbusinessshow.co.uk