Who are the most successful black entrepreneurs in the UK?
As Black History Month is observed worldwide, we thought it was important to recognise the achievements of the UK’s most successful black entrepreneurs. So, for this week’s Business Leader Top 12, we’ve looked at some of the leading black UK entrepreneurs who have excelled in the business world.
If you feel there is someone we have missed out, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and they can be included in the list below.
This list is in no particular order.
Sharmadean Reid MBE
British-Jamaican entrepreneur Sharmadean Reid MBE has been prominent in the business world since starting WAH, a hip-hop magazine for girls whilst still at university in 2006.
The CEO and Founder of beauty professional booking app Beautystack, Reid is also the Founder of WAH Nails, a nail salon brand that has concessions in Oxford Circus and Dublin. A big advocate for empowering young female entrepreneurs, Reid has written two books and was awarded with an MBE in 2015 for services to beauty.
Former footballer turned entrepreneur Reece Wabara is the Founder of fashion label Maniere de Voir, a sports-luxe clothing company that the former defender launched in 2014 after his contract with defending Premier League champions Manchester City was terminated by mutual consent.
Despite having never attended university, Wabara has built his multigendered fashion brand to £30m in revenue without outside capital, and exports to more than 95 countries around the world. Wabara has also been named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 – Europe – retail & e-commerce list.
The youngest-ever Dragon to appear on Dragon’s Den and Founder of Social Chain, a leading social marketing agency and media publisher, Steven Bartlett is further evidence that you don’t need to complete your university education in order to make it in the world of business.
Since dropping out of university, Bartlett built and launched Social Chain and Media Chain from a bedroom in Manchester at just 22. In just five years, Bartlett had taken his company public with a market valuation of £200m. We recently caught up with the host of the number one business podcast in Europe, ‘The Diary of a CEO’, in an exclusive interview.
Unlike the other entrepreneurs on this list, Oniwinde can also claim to have represented Team GB. The former javelin thrower, who also has a 2:1 in Economics from the University at Nottingham and has previously interned at Goldman Sachs, is the Co-founder of the BYP Network.
Often dubbed ‘the LinkedIN for black professionals’, the BYP network raised over $1m in crowdfunding in 2020 and grew the size of its team ten-fold. Oniwinde was also recognised in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2019.
Hayden is the Co-founder of Goodsoil VC, an early-stage venture capital firm focused on funding pre-seed and seed-stage technology companies, which Hayden has described as being dedicated to minimizing funding disparities in tech by investing in start-ups with high growth potential whose founders are of women, people of colour, LGBT or otherwise disenfranchised.
However, Hayden’s entrepreneurial endeavours also include award-winning model agency Face4music and Goal Digger power circle, an empowerment platform for women. Hayden’s online talk show “Not for the radio” also amasses 100,000 views on average per episode.
Dr Tunde Okewale MBE
The second MBE on our list, Dr Tunde Okewale is the Founder of charity Urban Lawyers, a multi-media education and information centre designed to educate, engage and stimulate discussion amongst young people about their attitudes towards criminal law.
The barrister at Doughty Street Chambers has had a remarkable career; having previously worked in the fruit and veg section at Sainsburys whilst studying law at London Metropolitan University, Dr Okewale was honoured as master of the bench of Inner Temple in 2019 at the age of 35, making him one of the youngest in its 650-year history.
After starting and selling a media company at just 17 years ago, Timothy Armoo founded multi-award-winning influencer marketing agency Fanbytes just five years later.
Fanbytes helps creators and brands reach GenZ audiences, and the agency’s previous clients include Nike and Mcdonald’s. The number of employees at the agency more than doubled during the pandemic, from 27 to 57, which helped Armoo to get on the cover of the Forbes 30 under 30 list 2021.
June Angelides MBE
Credited with starting the UK’s first child-friendly coding school for mums, Mums in Tech, whilst on her second maternity leave from Silicon Valley Bank, Angelides hasn’t let being a mum to three kids interfere with her ambitions of becoming a supremely successful entrepreneur.
Angelides is also an early-stage investor at VC firm Samos Investments, which focuses on high-growth European businesses across a range of sectors, including fintech, digital media and retail. A consistent speaker at events too, Angelides was awarded an MBE for services to Women in Technology in 2020.
Dr. Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE
Dr. Anne Marie Imafidon is the Co-founder of Stemettes, a social enterprise dedicated to inspiring and promoting the next generation of women in STEM industries.
A highly successful tech entrepreneur, Imafidon’s success in the industry led to her being named the most influential woman in the UK’s tech industry for 2020 by Computer Weekly magazine. Imafidon, who passed A Level computing at just 11 years old and has a Master’s degree in mathematics and computer science from Oxford, was also awarded an MBE in 2017 for services to young women within STEM careers.
With clients including Letitia Wright (Black Panther), John Boyega (Star Wars) and Cynthia Erivo (Widows), Femi Oguns has one of the most impressive client lists of any agent in the world, which he oversees as the Founder of the London-based Identity School of Acting.
Set up in 2003 in response to the deficit in minority acting talent being picked up by mainstream drama schools, the school now has over 900 students. Oguns is also the Founder of the Identity Agency Group, a talent agency, and has appeared in several award-winning television dramas.
Tech entrepreneur Gary Stewart is the CEO and Co-founder of mobile app The Nest, a community that aims to make entrepreneurial education and access to funding available to a much wider group of people than at present.
However, since graduating from Yale, Stewart has also worked as a lawyer in various locations around the world and as Director of corporate accelerator Wayra UK. Stewart is also a governor of the University of East London currently and sits on the Board of Advisors of One Tech.
In addition to being Managing Director of Axion Property Partners, Ofori is the Founder of the Black Property Network (BPN), which was set up to allow people in the black community to achieve financial and business goals through property investment and now has more than 700 members.
Ofori’s previous experience includes Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, and the multi-award-winning investment manager, wealth adviser and property specialist won the Rising Star award in the Black British Business Award last year.