The African and Caribbean Business Expo will take place at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, London, from 4th to 10th August 2012.
The event is the brainchild of London-based businesswomen Em Ekong and Ann Griffin, and was conceived in direct response to the need felt by black businesses in London to claim their own stake on the Olympics opportunity.
It will be hosted by social enterprise the African and Caribbean Business Experience in association with Courteville Business Solutions plc and sponsored by the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Partners include the Caribbean Export Development Agency and the PINC Foundation.
Baroness Oona King will be the event’s patron.
The African and Caribbean Business Expo will bring together leaders in business, senior government officials from around the globe and international broadcasting and news outlets.
Just 6% of Olympics contracts were awarded to black and ethnic minority businesses, despite these groups making up 42% of the population in Olympics boroughs.
A tailored scheme, the Fair Enterprise and Trade programme (FEAT) was set up by the Greater London Authority (GLA) to make sure that ethnic minority businesses were given a fair chance to win Olympics contracts, however most now feel that their time was wasted.
A petition signed by more than 2,500 black business-owners registers their frustration at being ‘carved out’ of Olympics contracts.
The Olympics was won on the back of London’s ‘diversity’, yet the same faces are the ones to benefit financially, the organisers of the Expo say.
Ms. Ekong, who ran FEAT and is now organising the African and Caribbean Business Expo to ensure that black businesses claim their stake on the Olympics opportunity, said countless black business owners “feel totally disenfranchised by the Games. They were told that the Olympics would bring business opportunities to their doorstep, instead they jumped through all the right hoops to no avail. Many of the people I have worked with now feel that they were simply paid lip service.”
Ms. Ekong added: “We know that the Olympics will bring a multi-billion pound boost to our economy, but the only way black businesses will get their piece of the pie is by taking it for themselves. The London 2012 bid was won by highlighting the city’s ethnic diversity, and our vision is to see that black communities do not lose out on what we all know is a once in a lifetime opportunity for business.”
Baroness Oona King of Bow, the Expo’s patron, said: "The London 2012 Olympics provides us with an unparalleled chance to meet business people from across the globe without having to travel the world. Particularly at such a defining time for African and Caribbean economies, it makes sense, with our large Diaspora, for the UK to capitalise on the prospects in these markets. The Expo will create a unique space for this to happen and I'm incredibly excited at this amazing opportunity."
THE AFRICAN AND CARIBBEAN BUSINESS EXPO
From 4th to 10th August 2012
The Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane, London