A jam-packed day full of inspirational speakers, networking opportunities, and celebrations - took place at the NatWest Conference Centre in London in July with the aim of inspiring and connecting black business owners, professionals, with the public and private sector.

Hundreds of black business entrepreneurs attended the event to hear from a whole host of engaging speakers including former President Obama appointee and host of Channel 4 business show The Money Maker, Eric Collins, British African broadcaster Henry Bonsu, and Lord Michael Hastings CBE.

The informative event was the brainchild of Dr Carlton Brown - and followed the publication of the CEO of Aspire Consultancy's The Black Entrepreneurs Report 2021, which sought to provide new insights into the challenges faced by Britain's black business community.

The landmark report revealed that while ethnic minorities represent 16 % of all registered businesses within the UK, only 1% of the public and private sector spend is with diverse businesses.

It concluded that major changes are needed in the way that black businesses are integrated into the macroeconomic business landscape within the UK - and the lack of access to finance was sighted as a key barrier to entry, alongside a deficiency of social capital.

All of these topics and challenges were touched on at the inaugural UK Black Business Entrepreneurs Conference - expertly curated by renowned British African broadcaster and media consultant, Henry Bonsu.

Henry Bonsu got the conference underway before introducing keynote speakers including Lord Michael Hastings who was awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) for services to crime reduction in 2003, and an independent peerage to the House of Lord in 2005. Lord Hastings, the chair of the London Black Business Association (BBA), set out the prerequisite requirements for entrepreneurial success while giving a fascinating chronology of the tribulations of Abraham Lincoln.

Dr Carlton Brown was able to articulate an insightful and intellectual distillation of the entrepreneurial landscape, within the UK and identify some of the structural and systemic challenges faced by black entrepreneurs within the UK , whilst seeking to establish new and innovative solutions, to bridge the gap.

Wilfred Emmanuel Jones - aka The Black farmer, who was awarded an MBE for services to farming in 2019 - was another who took to the stage.

The inspirational 63-year-old, who lives in Cornwall and farms in Devon, discussed "building an empire and access to market" before noting that "business is a battlefield and you have to fight for every piece of success.'

Dr Clare Anyiam-Osigwe, the award-winning serial entrepreneur, film director, writer, and founder of Premae Cosmetics, also captivated attendees.

The trailblazer who founded Premae - the world's first allergen-free, vegan-friendly beauty brand - when she was just 26, creating the products in her north London kitchen and overseeing the company's growth to an international brand with a clinic on London's Harley Street, spoke about her journey and the need to remove bias and barriers for black women.

She said: "It's so important that we share our stories of success and struggle to help inspire and uplift other black entrepreneurs."

Marketing maven, Nicola Millington, whose company, FP Comms, is currently celebrating 15 years in business, was another keynote speaker. She said: "What a day. For me, this has been about levelling the playing field - not just seeing and hearing from black entrepreneurs who are thriving in their fields but coming away armed with practical tips to implement in business.

"Standing still is going backwards. To see people just be excited and leave empowered and inspired, with actionable steps, is amazing."

The conference concluded with founder, Dr Carlton Brown, stressing the 21 strategic recommendations for change so as to bridge the gap between DEI objectives and outcomes.

"The future looks bright for black-owned businesses but work is needed in order to create greater equity and less disparity and to try and ‘level up the agenda'" shared Dr Carlton Brown.

"Annual events like today will help us all to continue to navigate the structural and systemic challenges and keep moving the agenda forward in a more synergistic, transparent and progressive manner."