We celebrate some of the UK’s leading black entrepreneurs during Black History Month
Businesses led by ethnic-minority entrepreneurs contribute at least £74 billion a year to the UK
Eight of the UK’s 23 tech unicorns were co-founded by minority entrepreneurs
23 of the UK’s top 100 fastest-growing companies in 2019 were co-founded by minority entrepreneurs
Making a name for yourself in the world of business can be difficult at the best of times, but research has shown that Ethnic minority entrepreneurs, particularly Black entrepreneurs, continue to face multiple barriers to achieving their full potential.
A report from British Business Bank states, "Once a business has launched, Black business owners report substantially worse outcomes across all objective and subjective measures of success. Median turnover for Black African entrepreneurs is just £17,000, compared to £35,000 for White entrepreneurs. Only half of Black, and Asian and Other Ethnic Minority business owners meet their non-financial aims, compared to 69% of White business owners."
And a 2020 survey found that 39% of Black aspiring entrepreneurs stopped developing their business idea because of difficulties getting finance, compared to a quarter (25%) of White British aspiring entrepreneurs.
However, it's not all bad news.
A report by OPEN, a London-based think-tank that focuses on migration and diversity issues, and commissioned by MSDUK, a Leicester-based membership organisation that champions diversity and inclusion in public and private-sector supply chains, found that businesses led by ethnic-minority entrepreneurs contribute at least £74 billion a year to the UK.
The report, sponsored by EY, also revealed that eight of the UK’s 23 tech unicorns – private start-ups valued at $1 billion (£740 million) or more – were co-founded by minority entrepreneurs. In addition, 23 of the UK’s top 100 fastest-growing companies in 2019 were co-founded by minority entrepreneurs, including the No1, Bulb Energy.
The conversation around ethnic minority-led business highlights the progress that has been made over the years, as well as the opportunities for further improvement in facilitating entrepreneurship from underrepresented groups.
With many flourishing examples to look to in today's market, we've noted down just a few of the UK's most successful, innovative, and inspirational Black leaders in the business landscape.
Steven Bartlett is the youngest ever judge to appear on the formidable Dragon’s Den panel and he also founded Social Chain, a leading social marketing agency and media publisher.
After quitting university, Bartlett built and launched Social Chain and Media Chain from his Manchester bedroom aged just 22. In five years, Bartlett had taken his company public with a market valuation of £200m. He now hosts top charting podcast ‘The Diary of a CEO’, which features a host of well-known business leaders.
Charmaine Hayden is the co-founder of Goodsoil VC, a venture capital firm focused on funding pre-seed and seed-stage technology companies. She has a strong background in setting up cornerstone firms with a diversity first lens and is described as being dedicated to minimising funding disparities in tech. She does so by investing in start-ups with high growth potential whose founders are women, people of colour, LGBT or otherwise disenfranchised.
Hayden’s entrepreneurial endeavours also include founding award-winning model agency Face4Music and Goal Digger, an empowerment platform for women. Hayden’s online talk show “Not for the radio” amasses 100,000 average views per episode.
Timothy Armoo founded ground-breaking influencer marketing agency Fanbytes in 2017 and it was acquired by global marketing and advertising company Brainlabs in May 2022 for an eight-figure sum. Fanbytes helps creators and brands reach Gen Z audiences by harnessing the power of social media and the agency’s clients over time have included Nike, Deliveroo and Mcdonald’s.
The number of employees at the agency more than doubled during the pandemic, from 27 to 57, which helped Armoo get on the cover of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2021.
June Angelides MBE
June Angelides is credited with starting the UK’s first child-friendly coding school for mums, Mums in Tech, while on her second maternity leave from Silicon Valley Bank. She is also a strong advocate for the rights of working mothers and is passionate about getting people from all backgrounds into careers in tech and helping more underrepresented founders gain access to funding.
Angelides is also an early stage investor at VC firm Samos Investments, which focuses on high growth European businesses across a range of sectors, including fintech, digital media and retail. She was awarded an MBE for Services to Women in Technology in 2020.
Tech entrepreneur Gary Stewart is the CEO and co-founder of mobile app The Nest, a community that aims to make entrepreneurial education and access to funding available to a wide and diverse talent pool.
Since graduating from Yale University, Stewart has worked as a lawyer in various locations around the world and is a director for Wayra UK, the world’s largest open innovation hub. Stewart is also a governor of the University of East London and sits on the Board of Advisors of One Tech, which empowers underrepresented people to claim their space in the tech startup ecosystem.
Ayesha Ofori is an investment manager, wealth adviser and property specialist. In addition to being managing director of Axion Property Partners, Ofori is the Founder of the Black Property Network (BPN), which was set up to allow people in the Black community to achieve financial and business goals through property investment. It now boasts more than 700 members.
Ofori’s previous experience includes being a former executive director at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. Previous triumphs include winning the Rising Star category in the Black British Business Awards.
Dr Tunde Okewale MBE
Dr Tunde Okewale is the founder of charity Urban Lawyers, a multi-media education and information centre which is designed to educate, engage and stimulate discussion amongst young people about their attitudes towards criminal law.
Dr Okewale is also a leading barrister at Doughty Street Chambers having enjoyed a varied career which saw him work in Sainsburys while studying law at London Metropolitan University. He was elected, aged 35, as master of the bench of Inner Temple in 2019, making him one of the youngest members in the organisation's prestigious 650-year history.
Kike Oniwinde is a former javelin thrower who has represented Team GB. She has a 2:1 in Economics from the University at Nottingham and has previously interned at Goldman Sachs.
She is also the co-founder of the BYP Network, which connects Black professionals with each other and wider corporations. The BYP network raised over $1m in crowdfunding in 2020 and grew the size of its team 10-fold. Oniwinde was also recognised in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2019.