Last night the Tambassadors left Tamarind Towers and decamped to City Hall where Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, was hosting an event to celebrate black entrepreneurs and the contribution of black businesses to society. After an introduction from the Chair for the evening, Tim Campbell, founder of Bright Ideas Trust (and the first ever winner of The Apprentice!), an esteemed panel of black businesspeople including Ade Sawyerr, Damon Buffini (co-founder of Social Business Trust), Natasha Faith (co-designer of LA DiOSA, Young Ambassador to The Prince’s Trust and the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund), Sonia Brown (director of the National Black Women’s Network) and Ric Lewis, spoke about their experiences in the world of business and gave their advice for the audience of experienced businesspeople and young people looking forward to business careers. On the subject of embracing failure as well as success in business, Mayor Boris Johnson was typically entertaining, noting, ‘A man called Chumba Wamba once said, “I get knocked down but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down!”’. The assembled audience was too polite to point out that Chumbawamba were in fact a band comprising at least eight members in 1997 when the single from which he was quoting, Tubthumping,* hit the charts . . . !
It was heartening to see so many young faces in the audience and we hope they were as inspired as we were by the panellists and news of the work being done by young black businesspeople to provide opportunities in their communities. One of the main issues voiced was how to break through the barriers that prevent black businesses from penetrating markets outside of their traditional consumer base to compete on a global stage. Whilst there are no easy answers to this question, the panel were in agreement that the explosion of connectivity provided by communications technology is a golden opportunity for black businesspeople to take their products and services to billions of consumers around the world.
Tim Campbell brought the meeting to a close perfectly by explaining that the biggest concern for black businesspeople should be the biggest concern for all businesspeople: to provide the best quality product possible. At Tamarind, that has always been our biggest concern and it will continue to be as we move into the next 25 years of the imprint.
*The irony of the title of this single is not lost on us . . . An unintentional blunder or a really clever joke? You decide.