Black businesses and entrepreneurs will help drive London's economy

07 October 2013

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson today hailed the contribution of Black businesses and entrepreneurs to the city's economy and is urging more to come forward to seek out the support that exists to help them grow.

The Mayor is hosting an event at City Hall this evening (Monday 7 October) to mark Black History Month, bringing together top business leaders and entrepreneurs to debate the issues affecting Black businesses. They include from the world of finance Ade Sawyerr, Ric Lewis and Damon Buffini, jewellery company founder Natasha Faith and entrepreneurs Sonia Brown MBE and Tim Campbell.

The Mayor wants to ensure that current and potential business leaders are aware of the help there is, in particular to support small and medium enterprise businesses (SMEs).

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'Over 1.2 million Londoners are of Black descent, almost 16 per cent of our city's population, so it is obvious that Black businesses and entrepreneurs have a vital role to play in our future prosperity, bringing innovation and dynamism, as well as links to overseas markets.

'From finance to design and retail to food, Black entrepreneurs are already making a huge contribution to our city's success. I want more dynamic and creative individuals from the Black community to develop thriving businesses in the capital and would urge them to seek out the wide range of support available to them in London and at a national level to get their ideas off the ground and help drive our economy.'

London is home to over 800,000 small firms, which represent 99.8 per cent of all private sector businesses and account for approximately £430 billion of business turnover[1]. There is a range of support available to help them grow and the London Enterprise Panel, chaired by the Mayor, was set up to provide a pan-London framework to support businesses across the capital. This includes allocating up to £25 million to create an SME Finance scheme to help support small businesses and create jobs. It also includes the Mayor's Export Programme, which was set up to help London businesses wanting to export to overseas markets and to help businesses already trading internationally to make the move into fast growing emerging markets. Several trade missions are planned, including to China, Brazil, Vienna, South Africa and Mexico.

It is also looking at the issue of affordable workspace, as well as the fragmented provision of business support services. In addition, the Mayor's Office is working with over 4,300 BAME businesses that have been supported through the European Regional Development Fund. £700,000 has also been allocated with a primary focus to support up to 200 BAME SMEs and micro-enterprises.

BAME businesses in London have also been able to take advantage of CompeteFor, a free service that enables them to bid for contract opportunities within the supply chains of major public and private sector buying organisations and major capital infrastructure projects. Over 49,000 London businesses are already registered, of which over 8,700 are BAME businesses - 17.6 per cent of the total. Of the awards made to CompeteFor suppliers, 13.4 per cent have gone to businesses that declared themselves to be BAME-owned or led. This compares to 5.2 per cent at the national level, but the Mayor is determined to see numbers of BAME businesses successfully bidding for contracts increase further.

Notes to editors

1. For information about the Mayor's priorities for business visit the Greater London Authority website:

2. As well as the Mayor, speakers at this evening's Black History Month event will include Ade Sawyerr, a founding consultant at Equinox Consulting; Damon Buffini, Investment Committee member and former Managing Partner at Permira; Natasha Faith, CEO and designer at Hatton Garden based luxury jewellery company LA DiOSA; Ric Lewis, Chief Executive, Tristan Capital Partners; Sonia Brown MBE, founder and director of the National Black Women's Network. Chairing the event will be entrepreneur Tim Campbell, who is also a mayoral Ambassador for Training and Enterprise. To be attended by business leaders and entrepreneurs, as well as the general public, this timely event will include a question and answer session and be followed by a reception.


Ade Sawyerr –speaker Ade Sawyerr will provide the historical dimension to the subject. He is a management consultant with many years’ experience of working on economic, enterprise and community development issues. He is a founding partner at Equinox Consulting, a consultancy set up 28 years ago to provide an integrated approach of consultancy, training, and research on issues that affect ethnic minority communities in Britain and abroad. Ade Sawyerr has carried out ground breaking, empirical research on Black businesses in Britain over a number of years, and will highlight the success and challenges experienced by this sector over the years.

Damon Buffini - Speaker Damon Buffini, Investment Committee member and former Managing Partner of Permira, a private equity business he established over a decade ago. Prior to that, he had over a decade's worth of experience in the financial/investments sector. Under his leadership Permira's funds under management grew from €1.9 billion to over €20 billion and the firm’s number of offices has risen from four to 12. Buffini currently represents Permira Funds on the board of NDS and Hugo Boss. He was ranked number three by the Times Power 100 for people who hold sway over British business, and topped the list as the most powerful black male in the Britain. He is also a co-founder of Social Business Trust, an initiative to grow social enterprises by utilising the knowledge, skills and capital of UK businesses. Damon Buffini was educated at Cambridge University, where he read Law and at Harvard Business School, where he gained an MBA. As the founder of a successful company and someone, he can provide invaluable insights and expertise.

Natasha Faith – Speaker Natasha Faith is the CEO and designer of LA DiOSA, a Hatton Garden-based luxury jewellery company which uses exquisite and rare gemstones. LA DiOSA was founded by Natasha Faith and Semhal Zemikael after traveling around the world at the age of 19. Since their first collection debuted at Harvey Nichols, LA DiOSA’s designs have adorned Michelle Obama, Kim Cattrall, Sienna Miller and the Duchess of Cambridge. LA DiOSA has won awards including Best Start-up and Entrepreneurs of The Year and LA DiOSA were also finalists at the UK Jewellery Awards for New Designer of the Year. Natasha and Semhal are Young Ambassadors to the Princes Trust, Nelson Mandela Children's Fund and also sit on the Junior Leadership Circle of Women for Women. As a young entrepreneur, Natasha will speak about the challenges facing fledgling business people in contemporary London.

Sonia Brown MBE – Speaker Sonia Brown is the founder and director of the National Black Women's Network; Let's Talk Business and Sistatalk. She has wide experience in business communication and project management, as well as developing the business case for more innovative and forward thinking programmes for organisational transformation in diversity issues. She is an authority on many areas of business, leadership and branding/marketing, as well as supporting individuals to achieve success in all areas of life. Sonia works across all government parties to increase BAME representation and participation in public life and enterprise.

Ric Lewis - Panellist Chairman of the Investment Committee and Chief Executive of Tristan Capital Partners, Ric is the Fund's Senior Portfolio Manager, responsible for overall Fund strategy and execution. Ric brings a 20+ year track record of international real estate investment management to Tristan. Prior to forming Tristan, Ric founded and served for several years as Chief Executive for Curzon Global Partners, the London based real estate investment company, and as Chief Investment Officer and Board Director of AEW Europe, its parent company, a pan-European real estate investment management business with 11 offices, 270 staff and €18 billion in assets under management. Prior to founding Curzon and helping to assemble AEW Europe, Ric was a Partner and Senior Managing Director of AEW Capital Management, a US based investment management business with 200 staff and $25 billion under management. Ric will be part of the panel that will take part in a Q&A after the speakers.

Tim Campbell – Chair Tim is the founder of Bright Ideas Trust, the charitable trust which he raised over £2.5m for, focusing on investing in businesses started by 16 - 30 year old NEETS in London. He established the foundation to help young people turn an idea into a reality, by providing funding and support to aid the business start-up process and it has grown to be a respected delivery partner for the Government's Start-Up Loans programme and contributed to him being awarded the MBE for his services to Enterprise Culture. An alumnus of Middlesex University and London Business School, Tim has worked at a senior level in both the public and private sectors, highlights within London Underground and Alexander Mann Solutions respectively. He is the winner of the BBC TV show The Apprentice and is currently the Mayoral Ambassador for Training and Enterprise focusing on Apprenticeships. Having spoken to business audiences across the globe regarding the catalyst business can be within communities Tim is an excellent chair for the event.