In recent years, Black British entrepreneurs have forged a path of innovation and resilience in the business world, surmounting formidable challenges such as limited access to funding and a host of other obstacles.
From the dynamic realms of technology to the ever-evolving world of fashion, these five remarkable individuals have left an indelible mark on the business landscape, shattering stereotypes and spotlighting the rich diversity within the Black business community of the United Kingdom.
Their unwavering dedication, unyielding determination, and remarkable triumphs have earned them well-deserved recognition, as they remain celebrated for their invaluable contributions to their respective industries.
Their achievements extend far beyond personal success, serving as a beacon of inspiration for countless aspiring Black entrepreneurs. They vividly demonstrate that, within the competitive market, remarkable success is attainable and a testament to the profound potential of Black business owners.
However, much work must be done to ensure greater equality and support for Black British businesspeople and their businesses; the present political, economic, and social climate necessitates concerted efforts beyond 2023 to ensure a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive business landscape in the UK.
1. Steven Bartlett
Steven Bartlett, a Black-British entrepreneur with a unique upbringing as the son of an English father and Nigerian mother in Botswana, is widely regarded as one of Europe’s most exceptional and accomplished young entrepreneurs and philosophical thinkers. From a young age, Bartlett demonstrated an entrepreneurial spirit and established his social media company, Social Chain, from his bedroom in Manchester. Through his tireless efforts and dedication, Social Chain has become one of the world’s most influential social media companies. Bartlett’s accomplishments extend beyond his groundbreaking work with Social Chain. He has significantly impacted the media world, becoming the youngest-ever Dragon on the popular TV show Dragons’ Den. He is now using his expertise and resources to invest $100 million in female-founded firms through his Flight Story Fund (FSF). Bartlett’s dedication to supporting female entrepreneurs represents a significant step forward for the business community.
2. Sharmadean Reid
Sharmadean Reid is the pioneering founder of WAH Nails salon, which established strategic partnerships with renowned global brands such as Marc Jacobs, Nike, and British Airways between 2009 and 2019. Drawing on venture capital funding, Reid launched Beautystack, a platform combining visual menus and social network mechanics to facilitate booking beauty and wellness treatments. More recently, Reid has committed her energy to The Stack World, a powerful platform that creates empowering female communities for brands and businesses.
In the short time since its inception, Reid has successfully grown an organic community of 8,000 mission-driven millennial and Gen-Z women, providing them with the knowledge, network, and resources needed to facilitate their personal and professional development.
3. Tunde Okewale
Tunde Okewale, who grew up in a council estate in Hackney, East London, is an inspiring example of determination and success. After working in the fruit and vegetable section at Sainsbury’s while studying law at London Metropolitan University, Okewale went on to found the charity Urban Lawyers, a multi-media education and information center designed to educate and engage young people on criminal law. In 2019, at the age of 35, Okewale was made Master of the Bench of the Inner Temple, making him one of the youngest in its 650-year history.
4. Yvonne Bajela
Yvonne Bajela is the founder and principal of Impact X Capital Partners LLP, a venture capital firm that invests in underrepresented entrepreneurs across Europe. Prior to founding Impact X, a UK-based venture capital firm investing in companies led by exceptional underrepresented founders at the Seed and Series A stages, Bajela was a senior investment manager at Mitsui & Co., where she led investments of more than $200 million into companies such as TransferWise. Bajela is also a partner at LocalGlobe, one of the UK’s longest-running venture capital firms specialising in seed and impact investments.
5. Kike Oniwinde
Kike Oniwinde is the founder and CEO of BYP Network, a digital platform described as “LinkedIn for Black young professionals.” The platform connects professionals and entrepreneurs and hosts networking events that attract big names like Spotify. Oniwinde, who grew up in East London, founded the London-based app as part of her commitment to changing the black narrative and promoting equity in the professional sphere. The platform has over 150,000 members and has partnered with more than 1,000 organizations.
6. Gary Stewart
Tech entrepreneur Gary Stewart is the CEO and co-founder of the mobile app The Nest. This community strives to make entrepreneurial education and access to funding available to a much broader audience. Since graduating from Yale, Stewart has worked as a lawyer in multiple countries and as the Director of corporate accelerator Wayra UK. He is also the governor of the University of East London and serves on the board of advisors of One Tech.
7. June Angelides
June Angelides is an accomplished early-stage investor at Samos Investments. Before starting her venture capital career, she blazed a trail in the tech and entrepreneurship world. She is the visionary founder of Mums in Technology, a pioneering social enterprise that established the UK’s very first child-friendly coding school. Her passion for nurturing talent and innovation is further underscored by her time spent on the early-stage team at Silicon Valley Bank. June’s diverse background and deep-rooted commitment to fostering creativity make her a standout figure in the investment and tech ecosystem.