From left to right, Olu Odubajo, ESG Social Value Manager, KPMG; John McCalla-Leacy, Partner and Head of ESG at KPMG UK, Dr Dupe Burgess, Bloomful Founder; Paulette Watson, Academy Achievers; Maatin Adewunmi, Loud Parade Co-founder; Erika Brodnock, CEO Kami Optimum Health; Senda Kavindele, Interim Head of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, KPMG UK; Karl Edge, Head of KPMG Private Enterprise – UK & EMA, KPMG UK. Photo credit KPMG UK
Nearly 100 entrepreneurs from purpose driven, profitable and diverse businesses across tech, health, transport, education, finance, food, clothing, childcare and sport applied to KPMG’s Black Entrepreneurs’ Awards (BEA), now in its third year, with the final four winners announced at a hybrid award ceremony earlier this month.
Following a UK wide search for this year’s top UK Black Heritage entrepreneurs, eight candidates were shortlisted and invited to a pitch in front of a judging panel that included Andy Davis, 10 x 10 Investor, Deborah Ajaja, Founder of Colour Celebrations and Janet Coyle, MD London Partners. Pitches were marked for quality, disruption, market potential, traction and innovation.
The winners are:
Most promising large business – Kami Optimum Health, CEO Erika Brodnock
Kami is an AI-as-Peer support platform providing parents with around-the-clock care via a conversational chatbot powered by cutting-edge NLP and access to vetted consultants. The judges were impressed with the ‘Alexa for families’ product and were excited about the long-term growth opportunities in the market. Commenting on her award win, Erika said: “It means the world to me to have won this award. It’s fantastic recognition from a potential client and a global brand that what we do at Kami is something good.”
Most promising medium sized business – Loud Parade, Co-founder Maatin Adewunmi
Loud Parade is a sonic branding and cultural creative agency supporting brands targeting Gen Z and millennials by creating iconic and bespoke music for their creative campaigns. The judges recognised that Loud parade has gained strong traction in a short space of time, getting billions of views on its ads and working with impressive blue-chip clients already. Maatin said on winning: “Honestly, it means a lot. We put a lot of work into this. This gives us the validation that we are on the right track and to keep on pushing.”
Most promising small business – Bloomful, Founder Dr Dupe Burgess
Bloomful is a subscription-based SaaS solution that’s delivering a new digitally enabled care pathway for better gynaecological health. The judges were impressed with the deep experience of Bloomful’s management team and could clearly see the massive market opportunity for them to address. Dr Dupe Burgess remarked: “It’s not an easy thing to build a business from scratch, but winning this award really helps to feel like its validating the business that we are building, that we are doing something worthwhile. It is really impactful, and just great to know that people really believe in what we are building.”
Most promising not-for-profit-business – Academy Achievers, Paulette Watson
#BeMedigitalinclusion aims to raise one million Black women and girls’ aspirations in STEM |WEB 3| training. The judges enjoyed Paulette’s passionate speech and felt Academy Achievers had a distinct value proposition which could have a massive impact for black women across the world. Responding to her win, Paulette said: “This is awesome! This award validates the passion, the commitment, the tears, the No’s and the Yes’s. Thank you to KPMG for validating the #BeMe Digital Inclusion to raise one million female aspirations.”
The winners will each receive £25,000 to invest in their business or as a donation to the charity or community project of their choice. While all eight of the finalists will be given exclusive entry to a bespoke 12-month acceleration programme, designed to support Black Heritage entrepreneurs and their businesses to grow. Previous winners have gone on to great success, including arranging a pilot of their services within KPMG.
John McCalla-Leacy, Partner and Head of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) at KPMG UK said: “All of our finalists this year were stand out quality. It was a very hard decision, but I am thrilled we are able to award our cash prize to the four winners and ongoing mentoring and expertise to all our finalists. They have created fantastic businesses and I can’t wait to see them continue to grow.
“Every year we see brilliant businesses enter the awards and it’s exciting to be able to offer support to Black entrepreneurs who often don’t have access to the resources they need to scale their businesses. The awards are an important part of our commitment to the communities in which we work, demonstrating our impact and celebrating black heritage business owners in the UK”