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Taking colour out of commerce

DREAM TEAM: A team from Mary Kay working their stall in Birmingham at last year’s Bex Live event

COMMERCE SHOULD not be colour coded – that’s the view of Bill Brown, the man behind Europe’s largest lifestyle, culture and business show what arrives in Birmingham today (Oct 4).

Known for not mincing his words, Brown’s mission is encouraging black people to start up their own businesses and create a product or a service, rather than being perpetual consumers.

Bex Live, which stands for Black Exposure, is seen as a vehicle to tackle economic inequality and Brown has been pushing this message home since he launched his expo a year ago.

But have people been listening to Brown’s advice over the past 12 months?

“The answer is definitely yes,” says Wolverhampton-based Brown, who has held various senior positions nationwide in housing management and community development projects as well as chairing the anti-gun charity the Disarm Trust.


“The issue is that everyone wants a piece of the black pound, but who is benefiting from it? It’s certainly not the black community, despite it being well documented that the black pound is worth more than £40 billion.

“It’s a global situation, but it’s our duty at BEX Live to ensure that our businesses are mainstream and are therefore given the opportunity to be patronised by all nationalities.”

Brown is keen to emphasise that while Bex Live wants to give black businesses a higher profile, wealth creation does not come from dealing solely with one community.

“We need to patronise other communities and we can’t be insular or separatist,” he said.

“The black community is the most creative set of people but we must not become too insular. We have to learn to provide products or services for every kind of people.

“Nevertheless, I feel we have become complacent because we have become magnificent consumers.

“Everyone loves the black community because we spend a lot of money buying goods from other communities and this has to change if we are to increase our consumer power. Everyone else seems to make money apart from us.
“Potential entrepreneurs also need to realise that eight out of ten rich people did not become rich overnight, but had to try and try before they became successful.”

Bex Live expo, free for the public, will be staged from 12 noon till 8pm at Birmingham Eastside, South and City College’s Digbeth Campus, one of the event’s sponsors, and the Custard Factory – all within two minutes’ walk of each other.

The activities of the day include a seminar, which focuses on key issues such as business start-ups, finance, sales and marketing.

Dr Christopher Johnson, author of British Caribbean Enterprises, the leading publication on black business in Britain, will be giving a presentation.

Camilita Nuttall, a global business leader and Birmingham’s own home-grown solicitor Karen Bailey, of Bailey Wright & Co Solicitors, will also be on hand to talk.

And not forgetting that business and making money should have some fun elements – the day includes an entertainment package with a battle of the barbers and hairdressing events, a talent contest and even a ‘blind date’ session!

Stallholders and those taking part will also have the chance to gain extra exposure from a TV shopping channel that will be filming the event.


Brown added: “Our mission is to promote the growth and development of black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs to the wider marketplace to showcase their products and services. Only in this way will the black community be able to celebrate all it has to offer in creativity, entrepreneurship, consumer power and much more.”

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