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‘Black businesses become billion pound industries’

DRIVING FORCE: Melanie Eusebe wants to celebrate black entrepreneurs

A PERCEIVED lack of role models has been one of the enduring challenges of the black community in the UK and along with it the disregard for black talent and excellence.

So the Black British Business Awards (BBB Awards), which will be held on October 2 recognises achievements of UK African and Caribbean people who have excelled in business, is considered, by many, long overdue.

Co-founder and chair, Melanie Eusebe, says it is time to “break through the stereotypes that exist about our race.”
The idea, she told The Voice, was born at an awards programme for women by global networking organisation Every Woman.

“I was at this awards programme and I thought ‘Oh man, I wish we had this for black people’ and Maxine Benson, from Every Woman, said to me ‘why not? Let’s do it!’”


The collaboration between the two ladies alongside Sophie Chandauka and Karen Gill has now produced a historic event that has caught the attention of commercial giants like Google, ASDA and Ernst and Young; and also had the Prime Minister sit up and pay attention.

Benson says she hopes the awards will help to create role models. “Young people need to know that celebrity culture and athletics are not the only route to success and financial freedom. There are other career options.”

She adds: “These awards are about the economic empowerment of our people. We need to understand and believe that we are great contributors to the global economy. We have a knack for creating something out of nothing and we have done it time and time again.

“Take hip-hop, for example. When we did not have any musical instruments, we made music with our mouths and all of sudden it is a billion dollar industry. We wanted to have straight hair and so we figured out a way to sew straight hair onto our heads and all of a sudden there is a weave and hair industry that is again worth billions. Yet, for most of us, we are not part of that supply chain and directly profiting from it. Instead of the master puppeteer we are too often the puppet.”

Eusebe added: “There was a reluctance to acknowledge specific challenges that black people face. People wanted us to get lumped into the general diversity agenda, rather than looking at the specific issues in the community.

“I had to stand firm and say there is a separate problem here that needs to be acknowledged.”

JUDGE: 2005 Apprentice winner Tim Campbell

Eusebe is hoping to inject others with the self-belief and healthy hunger for success that she developed in her formative years.

The 37-year-old Briton who grew up in Canada with her Dominican and Trinidadian parents said her early education and environment instilled a determination to succeed.


She adds: “My mother was a psychiatric nurse and worked two jobs and I promised myself I will never work as hard as she did. I am not saying that hard work is bad, but in terms of the number of hours that she had to physically put in, I did not want to be in that position.

“I am firm believer in standing on the shoulders. My mother told me that I should stand on her shoulders and reach higher than she did. That means the person that comes after me is standing on my shoulders, so we get higher every generation.

“These awards are about proving that we bring something to the table, so we can demand better pay and representation.”



Financial Services
· Diane Greenidge, Deputy Chief Administration Officer – Europe, BNY Mellon
· Pamela Hutchinson, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer EMEA and APAC, Northern Trust
· Trevor Williams, Chief Economist, Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking
Rising Star
· Jennifer Mensah, Analyst, Goldman Sachs International
· Funke Omisore, Sponsor Supervision Associate, UK Listing Authority
· Lorraine Wright, Director, UBS
Fast-Moving Consumer Goods
· Constance Jackson, General Manager –Europe, Fashion Fair Beauty Products Ltd
· Wilfred Emmanuel Jones, Founder, The Black Farmer
· Tumi Soyinka, Senior Product Manager, L’Oréal
Rising Star
· Fioye Akinsola, Head of Operations/Director, Virgos Lounge Limited
· Timi Dorgu, Regional Sales Manager, London, L’Oréal
· Ike Sikuade, Founder, Showerella
Infrastructure and Manufacturing
· Myrtle Dawes, Director of Projects, Centrica E&P (UK and Netherlands)
· Dr Nelson Ogunshakin OBE, Chief Executive, Association for Consultancy and Engineering (ACE)
· David Waboso CBE, Capital Programmes Director, London Underground Ltd
Rising Star
· Tobi Lawal, Business Development Manager, BP
· Jim Lenga-Kroma, Human Resources Graduate, RWE npower
· Naomi Williams-Taylor, Business Development Associate, Metro Design Consultants
Media and the Arts
· Darcus Beese, President, Island Records
· Arit Eminue, Director DiVA
· Kenneth Olumuyiwa Tharp OBE, Chief Executive, The Place (Contemporary Dance Trust)
Rising Star
· Joanna Abeyie, Founder and Director, Shine Media Ltd
· Barbara Njau, Editor, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, fDi Magazine, The Financial Times
· Sebastian Thiel, Film Director/Founder, Upshot Entertainment
Professional Services
· Margaret Casely-Hayford, Chairman, Action Aid UK
· Trevor James, London Office Managing Partner, Morrison and Foerster (UK) LLP
· Tom Shropshire, Partner, Linklaters LLP
Rising Star
· Chike Eduputa, Consultant Analyst, PA Consulting Group
· Alieu Fofanah, Africa Business Group Lead, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) 
and CEO, Go-Getters
· Melba Mwanje, Founder and Trustee, SE1 United
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
· Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Space Scientist and Science Communicator, UCL and Science
Innovation Ltd
· Tunji Akintokun, Director, Middle East, Africa, Russia and CIS, Cisco
· Rashada Harry, Director, Your Future, Your Ambition
· Dr Uchenna Okoye, Clinical Director, London Smiling Dental Group
Rising Star
· Anne-Marie Imafidon, Head Stemette, Stemettes
· Sonny Kombo, Graduate Civil Engineer, Transport for London
· Amie Samba, Fitness Mentor, Run Fun Starz

Entrepreneur of the Year
· Michael Barrington-Hibbert, Managing Partner, Barrington Hibbert Associates
· Piers Linney, Co-CEO, Outsourcery PLC
· Andrew Osayemi, Managing Director, MTA Productions Ltd
Rising Star
· Stefan Knight, Managing Director, JSJ Electrical Contractors
· Linda Mutunga, Founder, Syo Kai
· Philip Poku, Founder/Director, Young Graduates Day Nursery

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