Building upon the remarkable achievements of the renowned UK Black Business Show x HSBC UK 25 Black entrepreneurs to watch list in 2021 and 2022, we are thrilled to present you with a fresh compilation of remarkable Black entrepreneurs who are changing the landscape in the UK.
From an early age, young Black individuals become acutely aware of the multitude of challenges they must confront, their race has a significant influence on how they are perceived by others. This list acts as a wellspring of inspiration to provide relatable role models.
It is crucial that all aspiring Black entrepreneurs realise they have the potential to achieve great success. It’s important to remind them that they have the same inherent worth as anyone else and anything is possible if they continue to dream big. The HSBC UK x UK Black Business Show 25 Black Entrepreneurs to Watch List serves as a beacon of inspiration for aspiring Black entrepreneurs, bolstering their determination to excel in their respective industries.
Embarking on its seventh year, the annual UK Black Business Show coincides with Black History Month, serving as an inspiring platform that unites Black business owners and professionals across several industries. With an unwavering commitment to supporting underrepresented Black entrepreneurs and professionals, this transformative event has become a cornerstone of the recently established UK Black Business Week—a ground-breaking week dedicated to empowering Black entrepreneurs, professionals, and allies within the community.
UK Black Business Show embraces the spirit of progress, collaboration, and celebration. Today we shine a spotlight on the remarkable achievements of these trailblazing Black entrepreneurs.
Founder and CEO of the Show & Week, Raphael Sofoluke spoke on the importance of championing Black entrepreneurs and the need to highlight Black role models. He says: “We are thrilled to shine a spotlight once again on 25 Black entrepreneurs, marking the third consecutive year of this celebration in collaboration with our esteemed partner, HSBC UK.
These entrepreneurs possess remarkable attributes and have demonstrated tremendous resilience in business. Their outstanding achievements deserve recognition, and it is our privilege to celebrate and showcase their accomplishments.” He is also the Founder and CEO of UK Black Business Show & UK Black Business Week.
Peter McIntyre, Head of Business Banking, HSBC UK, said: “We are incredibly proud to support the annual list of Black Entrepreneurs to Watch for the third year running, where the achievements of these 25 inspiring Black entrepreneurs are celebrated and showcased. At HSBC UK, we are committed to opening up a world of opportunity for all – as part of our work to fulfil that ethos, we want to champion talented Black business leaders and ensure they can achieve their full potential.”
Top 25 Black Entrepreneurs (Picture courtesy of A&O Studios)
Aaron Wallace, Founder and CEO of Aaron Wallace - Aaron Wallace is a South London entrepreneur who went from hosting events at the Houses of Parliament with his previous company, to opening his own barbershop in 2014. Following the success of the shop Aaron went on to launch a natural hair, beard and skin care range for Black men. He has since been recognised by the likes of Forbes, AskMen, Blavity and BET as a trailblazer in the hair care industry, and has gotten his brand launched in Sainsbury’s, Superdrug, ASOS, Debenhams, Saks Fifth Avenue, Zalando and Urban Outfitters.
Adrienne Adhami, Wellness professional & Brand Advisor - Adrienne is a leading wellness professional, keynote speaker, and author. She is the epitome of the modern digital entrepreneur, and she is a brand advisor specialising in digital wellbeing and wearable health tech. Adrienne is the former Director of Innovation at the UK’s leading fitness technology app Fiit.
She has delivered keynotes and workshops for brands such as Google, Barclays & Microsoft, to motivate and empower their employees.
Adrienne is also the host of a popular podcast; Power Hour, that to date has more than 4 million downloads. Each week he shares ideas and insights about wellbeing, productivity and entrepreneurship.
Ama Amo-Agyei, Founder & CEO of Plantmade - Ama is a multi-7 figure entrepreneur after building a brand accidentally by solving her own hair loss issues during the turbulent time of Covid. She best known for in creative direction, building brand & storytelling.
Anthony Laville, Founder and CEO of Volume.Property - Volume.Property a dynamic property investment and development company based in Birmingham. Founded in 2017, Volume is establishing itself as a prominent player in the industry, developing and managing its own large-scale apartment complexes in the Student and Residential property sectors.
It successfully delivers development projects from the ground-up. Further to this, Volume manages all aspects of tenant relationships in-house for its hundreds of diverse tenants, in turn, generating millions of pounds in annual rental income.
Volume currently has a secured development pipeline exceeding £250 million. Work to expand the company’s portfolio to £1 billion is underway, capitalising on its expertise to seize opportunities in what is a challenging time for the UK property market.
Anthony is a sought-after speaker at property events for his insights in the property investment and development industry. With him at the helm, Volume is poised to continue its trajectory of growth and innovation, solidifying its position as a leader in the sector.
Charlotte Stavrou, CEO & Founder of SevenSix Agency - Charlotte Stavrou (née Williams) is the Founder & CEO of SevenSix Agency and co-host of BBC Radio 4 podcast, All Consuming. She’s the go-to person for brands looking for advice on how to make their marketing strategies more inclusive. Charlotte regularly speaks for and works with platforms such as Meta and YouTube, and participates in roundtables and panels with industry bodies such as ISBA and Advertising Association.
In addition to her consultancy work, Charlotte offers Inclusive Marketing and Influencer Marketing training to brands and agencies. For the past four years, she has been helping creators understand their value. Together with her team, Charlotte has created the first-ever influencer pricing reports that have highlighted the Influencer Racial Pay Gap. Her yearly pricing reports have helped set an industry pricing standard.
Charlotte Stavrou is a respected and influential leader in the marketing industry who is dedicated to promoting diversity and inclusion.
Elizabeth Uviebinené, Founder of Storia - Elizabeth Uviebinené is a multi-award-winning author, Financial Times Columnist and founder of Storia: a journaling app to organise your thoughts and unleash your inner voice. She has published five books, including her critically acclaimed bestseller Slay In Your Lane, co-authored with Yomi Adegoke; they were credited with establishing a new category in the publishing market for literature catered for Black women, selling thousands of books worldwide.
Elizabeth began her career in marketing and has worked as a brand strategist for businesses such as Google and Bumble and was awarded Ad Age’s 2021 Leading Women in Europe, a Marie Claire Future Shaper and the Groucho Maverick Award for being a ‘culturally progressive innovator’.
George Imafidon, CEO & Co-founder of Motivez - George Imafidon MBE is a 26-year-old humanitarian engineer and social impact leader from Peckham, South London. He is the CEO of Motivez, an Extreme E Champion and Race Engineer with Sir Lewis Hamilton’s electric race team, X44 Vida Carbon Racing, and a Board Member at The Co-op Foundation and The Hamilton Commission improving diversity in STEM and motorsport.
As a First-Class engineering graduate from University College London (UCL), George is passionate about building sustainable products and programmes that improve lives and communities. Over the past eight years, he has worked with firms such as Google, McKinsey and Rolls-Royce where he saved them £50 million through a novel component.
In 2015, George co-founded the award-winning venture, Motivez, supported by influential figures such as Idris Elba, Beyonce and The Royal Family after directly supporting over 9,000 young people in the UK aged 14 – 25 to access entry-level jobs in STEM. In recognition of these efforts, George received the Young Engineer of the Year Award 2022/23 by the Royal Academy of Engineering and has been featured in outlets such as ITV, Evening Standard and BBC.
Gori Yahaya, Founder & CEO of UpSkill Digital - Gori is an award-winning entrepreneur, founder and CEO of UpSkill Digital, an EdTech organisation that has been the driving force behind some of the largest global digital skills initiatives, enabling people from all backgrounds to access the skills to participate and thrive in society. He has over a decade of experience building and launching SME and Entrepreneurship enablement programmes on behalf of global organisations such as Google, Microsoft, TikTok and HSBC, across Europe, Africa, Asia, and the US.
Gori has recently launched Google Hustle Academy, a series of training bootcamps that have equipped over 6,000 SMEs across Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa with the skills to refine their business strategies and ultimately scale. Gori is committed to building programmes that can scale and is relentlessly focused on ensuring they are built with the most vulnerable groups in mind, so they can acquire the relevant skills for the digital age.
Irene Agbontaen, Founder of TTYA London / Cultural Partnerships - Irene Agbontaen, Founder of the TTYA London label is a global tastemaker and opinion former, Irene is the ultimate connector at the heart of cultural relevancy for brands and talent alike. Well respected across fashion, music & culture. Irene adds enormous flare to a number of brands across each industry.
Founder of the TTYA London label, Irene has worked with global brands including; Louis Vuitton, Apple, Burberry and has been featured in publications including I-D, Vogue, ELLE & Sunday Times Style. Irene has expanded her brand TTYA into a lifestyle offering which now encompasses; TTYA Talks, a podcast series, cultural programming for brands and events. Utilising Irene’s global network she has curated events for Wizkid, Mabel, Tiwa Savage, FKA Twigs, Halle Berry, SZA & Erykah Badu. Continuing to shake the table in her recent director role at global talent agency UTA, Irene is at the forefront for cultural campaigns shaping the future for global artists such as Burner Boy + Central Cee.
Joelah Noble, Broadcast presenter and radio host – Born in London, but raised in Brooklyn, New York, the broadcaster and presenter began presenting for GRM Daily and hosted their Rated Awards in 2017. She has since presented for the Premier Leagues digital series Uncut, Amazon Primes Kitchen Table Face off and was the host the Lioness’s Live show every day throughout the tournament last summer, interviewing some of the biggest names in women’s football as well as football legends. In the midst of hosting the women’s euros show, MTVs Are You The One launched which Joelah was host of their first UK series!
Most recently she presented Red Bull Soapbox for Dave channel as well as being DAZN boxing’s matchday online host. Joelah announced her own weekly Saturday radio show on BBC 1Xtra as well as her show which she hosts with co-host Keke; 1Xtra Throwback Party which plays out during drive time and on BBC Sounds, where she plays a mix of grime/hip hop/soul as well as talks through music from the 90’s, 00’s and 10’s. And this summer will see Joelah host the brand new Soccer Aid 2023 after match show with Jermaine Jenas.
Karl Lokko, Chair of Black Seed - As a campaigner, Karl has spent the past decade of his life advocating for a fairer and more inclusive business ecosystem. Karl offers consultancy and advisory to high profile individuals, decision makers and corporates. His philanthropic efforts have helped raise millions for charities in the UK. A gifted orator, Karl is regularly invited to speak at corporate, public and charity events including TEDx Talks. He is also the co-founder and chairman on Black Seed, Europe’s first Black fund for Black founders by Black founders. A £10M fund and community providing lack founders access to an extensive network whilst acting as a bridge between the city and community.
Kathryn Burn, Owner & Founder of My Christmas Pyjamas & Pyjamily - Kathryn is a television personality, inspiring entrepreneur, motivational speaker and influential content creator, who rose to fame as a firm fan-favourite after cementing her place in the final of BBC One’s The Apprentice, in 2022. Kathryn launched her pyjama business, My Christmas Pyjamas, in 2018 with just a £50 budget from Australia, after finding a gap in the market for matching pyjamas for the whole family (including pets)!
Fast forward 5 years, and Kathryn is now turning over six figures in the 4 months of her seasonal business’s operating months, partnered with global brand, Hilton, as part of their Christmas campaign, and also expanding to an all year round range, Pyjamily.
Kojo Marfo, Cultural Strategist and founder of My Runway Group - Kojo Marfo is a cultural strategist and founder of my runway group. With over a decade of experience in curating multiple global campaigns focused on empowering over 20,000 emerging creative talent as well as providing commercial visibility to over 2,500 Black-led businesses through strategic brand partnerships and policies.
His impact in the Black community and beyond has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Bloomberg, Evening Standard, and the BBC. He opened the very first Black concept store in West End (Carnaby and later Covent Garden) to sell over 200 Black businesses to diverse customers. Kojo was appointed Vice-Chair in 2023 by the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, for the newly formed Black cultural advisory group.
Labi Odebunmi, Director/Executive Producer - Labi Odebunmi is a film, commercials & music video director. With years of experience, he is a creative brain & visual storyteller to many clients, agencies and commissioners. Labi is renowned for crafting productions that uniquely engage audiences.
He has directed productions across the world and worked with the likes of WPP, Apple & Kayak. The director has also worked numerously with the major record labels Warner Music, Sony Music, Universal Music Group; working with artist such as Ray BLK, French Montana, Burna Boy, Wretch 32, Stefflon Don & more. A creative entrepreneur, he has won a Stanley Kubrick award and his work has amassed multi-millions of views.
Leon Mann, Sports Consultant, Film-Maker and Activist - An entrepreneur cum activist, broadcaster turned filmmaker, Leon Mann MBE has devoted his career to bringing life to incredible stories and development opportunities throughout the world of sport.
At the heart of his passion for the industry, his filming, campaigns and businesses present inspiring athletes, coaches, and sports executives with a platform to progress and tell their piece. In doing so, he saw an opportunity to launch his own consultancy and production agency, Refresh Sports, and is now collaborating with some of the world’s top sporting talents, associations, leagues and brands.
Leon is also working to enable inclusivity across the sport and media landscape, wholesale, by supporting content creators and advocating greater diversity within sport’s media and governance. A creative entrepreneur, he has won a Stanley Kubrick award and his work has amassed multi-millions of views.
Lisa Carter, CEO & Founder, Discussion Box - Lisa Carter is an award-winning Tech Entrepreneur and the CEO of Discussion Box, a virtual events platform for culture-shifting brands. Discussion Box is parent company to ‘The Spotlight Experience’, which partners with the world’s largest technology brands including Google, Intel, and IBM to platform women in leadership and pave the path for future generations of women in business worldwide.
The company was bootstrapped and founded by Lisa and turned over £1.2 Million in its first year of trading. Lisa is also the founder of luxury jewellery brand Nikao, which launched at London Fashion Week in 2016 and has since been featured in VOGUE, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and worn by celebrities such as Zendaya, Rita Ora, Jorja Smith, and Kelly Rowland. The brand has also been highlighted on Forbes and Beyoncé’s website.
Lorraine Wright-Boateng, Content Creator, Chief Side Hustler - Lorraine Wright-Boateng MBE, a British born Ghanaian, is a businesswoman, speaker, moderator and content creator. Lorraine’s “Chief Side Hustler” brand educates others on running side hustles alongside full-time jobs and more specifically focuses on bridging the gap between the UK-based Ghanaian diaspora and Ghana.
Lorraine is renowned for running multiple different side hustles alongside her full time job where is currently the UK regional lead for the Facebook Community Accelerator Program. Founder of Resonates Well, a social enterprise, She enhances student well-being, fosters community, and empowers young voices through initiatives like University Gospel Choir of the Year (UGCY), which earned her an MBE from the Late HRM Queen Elizabeth II.
She co-founded UV Talent, a music talent booking agency serving clients such as X Factor, BGT and The Voice. Lorraine is one of the early founders and currently a Non-Executive Director for a Google-backed Ghanaian agriculture crowdfunding platform Grow For Me and also owns Liona Nails, a luxury boutique salon in Accra as well as Liona Lashes a Lashes brand.
Lydia Amoah, CEO of BACKLIGHT and Founder of The Black Pound Report - Recognised as Britain’s leading authority on diversity, equity and inclusion, Lydia Amoah is an award-winning business coach, TV presenter, campaigner and founder of cultural change agency, Backlight. She is a DEI pioneer, a history-maker, and a game-changer.
Recently appointed Head of Black at Cannes UK, her role focuses on developing Partnership opportunities across the UK with Agencies, Brands, and Media Owners to support the inclusion of Black Creatives through representation at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Lydia is available as a DEI advisor, a keynote speaker, and a career and leadership coach.
Mac Alonge, Founder and CEO of The Equal Group - Mac is the Founder and CEO of data-driven, equality, diversity and inclusion tech company, The Equal Group. Mac and The Equal Group are focused on providing forward thinking organisations with the tools and support that they need to optimise their equality, diversity and inclusion efforts. Over the last 10 years as a regulatory focused consultant within the energy and utilities industries, Mac has worked with and for some of the world’s largest private and public sector organisations, including the likes of KPMG, National Grid, Scottish Power, Capita and the Scottish and UK governments.
Priscilla Anyabu, Broadcaster & founder of Soundz Of The Diaspora - Priscilla is a Broadcaster, Presenter, Podcaster, who has won the nation’s heart with her buzzing personality showcased on MTV’s The Challenge, ITV’s Love Island and Channel 4’s Unapologetic. Her credentials include Hosting the Spotify Chartshow, BET Awards Red Carpet, Netflix x #MERKY Books Festival ( Get Funded Panel) & Young Music Boss Awards. Priscilla was a guest presenter for the MOBO Awards, GUAP Gala and she is the co-host of Spotify Original podcast Nailing It. In 2023 she founded Soundz Of The Diaspora, celebrating and exploring music of African heritage, which was birthed from having a stint in the music industry, one of her passions, having worked with many AfroBeats superstars. The Ugandan, British raised has a powerful audience and has transitioned beautifully from British Television to having the ability to communicate and relate to people around the world.
Remi Burgz, Radio Broadcaster, Host and Personality - Remi Burgz is a broadcaster, host & personality from South East London. Remi has always had a great passion for music and entertaining, which explains her rapid growing success in the entertainment industry. Remi began her radio career in 2017 and shortly afterwards grabbed her own live show on Reprezent Radio. She now hosts the BBC 1Xtra Drive Time Show, and co-hosts alongside DJ Target on his BBC Three TV show ‘Tonight with Target’. Remi’s infectious energy lights up every room she enters, earning her the nickname “Your Local Energy Provider”.
Off air, Remi consistently brings lectric energy and memorable moments at events. It all started when she became a hype woman/host at ‘Reveur’, a club night in London she created with her friends. Since then, she has gone on to host festivals/tours across the world, such as Wireless, Stormzy’s HITH Tour (UK Leg), Merky Festival (Ibiza), Parklife (Manchester), Days Like This Brunch (UK, Malta, Ghana and Nigeria) Leeds Festival, Afronation (Ghana) & London’s biggest Womxn only event, LICK.
Sandra Igwe, Chief Executive, The Motherhood Group - Sandra Igwe is an award-winning social entrepreneur, international published author (My Black Motherhood), TedX speaker, inclusion consultant and the Chief Executive of The Motherhood Group, a social enterprise that supports the Black maternal experience by delivering in-house community-based programmes within their hub, organisers of Black Maternal Health Conference UK, Black Mum Fest, Black Maternal Mental Health Week UK, as well commissioned maternal cultural training workshops for the NHS and other organisations.
They own a community hub in Lambeth Town Hall – the physical safe space for Black mothers. She is a Trustee for Birthrights and the co-chair of their National Inquiry.
Timi Merriman-Johnson, Founder of Mr MoneyJar - Timi is an award-winning financial content creator, podcaster, author and founder of Mr MoneyJar, a UK-based financial education company, which offers accessible, practical financial guidance, through digital content, events and 121 coaching.
He is also an ambassador at National Numeracy, an independent UK charity that helps UK and adults and children feel more confident with numbers and has been featured in the Financial Times, BBC News, and ITV News.
Tunde Okewale, Barrister at Doughty Street Chambers and Founder of Urban Lawyers - Tunde Okewale’s career path is an inspiring story for aspiring legal professionals. Growing up on a Hackney Council Estate, he became the first person from his community to attend University. While studying law at London Metropolitan University, Tunde held multiple jobs and received a scholarship from the charity From Boyhood to Manhood, which supported his education at Bar School.
Today, Dr. Tunde Okewale MBE is an award-winning barrister at Doughty Street Chambers, specializing in business and financial crime. In 2010, he founded Urban Lawyers, a charity dedicated to making the law more accessible to marginalized groups. Honoured as the youngest Master of the Bench in Inner Temple’s 650-year history in 2019, also serves as a Bar Council Race Training Panel Member and delivers training courses on race. His accomplishments include being listed in Forbes as one of the leading Black British business people and receiving recognition in The Sunday Times and GQ magazine for his contributions.
Yaw Okyere, Founder & CEO – Ava Estell Ltd - Ava Estell founder, Yaw Okyere, has long been in the business of entrepreneurship, setting up small profit-making businesses since the age of 16. Following a successful four-year university degree in Engineering the British based Ghanaian also used that time to launch the second of his successful start-ups that saw Okyere deliver restaurant food to campus for a mark-up profiting over £20k in his first year.
It wasn’t until Yaw met his now wife that he realised his expertise in product formulation could be used to help instil confidence in the black community. Yaw developed a natural range of cosmetic products designed to address problematic skin concerns with a focus on Black skin in a way no western beauty brands were.
Ava Estell was created in Oct 2020 and has since grown into a full line of products with melanin in mind, set to bring confidence in complexion.