On Saturday 5 October, London’s QEII Centre hosted the UK Black Business Show for the third consecutive year. From the inaugural show that premiered in 2017 in one of QEII’s smallest suites, the UK Black Business Show has grown exponentially to this year’s sell-out event occupying QEII’s entire 1,300-capacity third floor.
Founded by Raphael Sofoluke in 2016, the UK Black Business Show aims to bring together black business owners and entrepreneurs across a wide variety of sectors to highlight the achievements and contributions black businesses have made to the economy. The QEII Centre has worked closely with the organisers of the show to support its growth since inception, optimising different spaces in the venue to accommodate the ever-increasing number of exhibitors and attendees.
In the first year the UK Black Business Show took place, it was held in one of QEII’s smallest suites, with a capacity for just 70 people. The show has grown rapidly since, and just two years later the 2019 edition of the show took over the whole of the centre’s 1,300 capacity third floor.
More than 2,000 visitors attended over the course of a day, to see 103 exhibitors representing black businesses and entrepreneurs from across a wide variety of sectors, including several such as tech where the black community is typically under-represented.
To accommodate the growth of the show, QEII’s Fleming, Whittle and Britten rooms were combined to create one extensive exhibition hall, while the venue’s central London location, with easy accessibility through London’s underground network and international airports, made it easy for both UK and international visitors to attend.
Alongside the main exhibition, a programme of inspirational talks took place with speakers from a wide range of backgrounds and sectors. The speakers themselves are the key focus of what’s happening on stage, so QEII’s in-house AV providers, QEII Live, provided a complete Sennheiser wireless microphone system with D&B Y series PA to make the most of the fantastic speakers, their panel sessions and the audience Q&A.
To accompany the conversation, presentations were delivered with two of Panasonic’s latest laser projectors and Analog Way livecore switching systems. The combination of colour reproduction and light output ensured that the wide variety of presentation designs were all catered for and displayed as the designers intended.
The UK Black Business Show logo is an unmistakably bold and recognisable brand image, so this was utilised in the stage design with both printed graphics for the lectern and lighting GOBOs. The drive towards sustainability is a rapidly evolving part of QEII’s business, so reusable and long lasting options such as undated glass gobos provide such an easy win for both clients and suppliers.
The 2019 UK Black Business Show was the biggest and best edition of the show to date.
The show attracted its widest range of exhibitors so far, with businesses from the US, Germany, France and Nigeria attending for the first time and 103 exhibitors in total.
By utilising the combined spaces on QEII’s third floor, the event was able accommodate both the increased exhibitor numbers and the record visitor numbers of more than 2,000.
Founder Raphael Sofoluke said: “Since launching three years ago we’ve seen great outcomes from the UK Black Business Show, including visitors who’ve been inspired by what they’ve seen to set up their own business, and one company that launched their business at our first event and has gone on to do their own television show on Channel 4.
“I’d been involved with an event held at the QEII Centre in my previous role so I knew it was where I wanted the UK Black Business Show to be, as it’s so easy to get to and there are great opportunities for branding through the building’s digital signage and even with the flags outside, which is really important for getting people excited about the event. The QEII team have been a great support; our account manager Chris Gaylard has helped us achieve our vision and dealt with any glitches, and Daniel Anderson has done a brilliant job as our event manager on the day.
“Our 2019 event was bigger and better than ever; and we are already in discussions with QEII to work out how we can grow even further in 2020.”