From the left, Olu Odubajo, KPMG UK; Jonathan Bean, Materials Nexus; Dami Hastrup, MOONHUB; Grace Ubawuchi, Xin and Voltaire Ltd; George Imafidon MBE, Motivez and Karl Edge, KPMG UK. Photo credit Photographer London for KPMG UK
Following a UK wide search for this year’s most exciting Black heritage entrepreneurs, the winners of KPMG’s Black Entrepreneurs’ Awards have been announced. Over 150 entrepreneurs from purpose-driven, profitable and diverse businesses across sectors including virtual reality, gen AI, fintech, retail, sustainability, education and supply chain management applied to this year’s awards. 12 candidates were shortlisted and invited to pitch in front of a live audience and a judging panel that included Precious Oyelade, former Google for Start-ups Program Lead; Audrey Handem, investor at Speedinvest; Charlie Conchie, investment editor at City AM, and Philip Davidson, former KPMG global chief operating officer. Pitches were marked for quality, disruption, market potential, traction and innovation.
And the winners are:
Most promising large business – Dami Hastrup, MOONHUB
MOONHUB bridges the gap between corporate learning and learning on the job, via Virtual Reality interactive training scenarios. On winning the award, CEO and Founder, Dami Hastrup said: “This is incredible. I’m really honoured to win this award, especially as the competition in this category was immense. I started about seven years ago and to get this award from KPMG is brilliant.
“My aim with the prize fund is to bring in somebody who’s underrepresented in our local area and give them access and opportunity to work alongside the team. I’m really excited to pass on what we’ve been given by KPMG to the local community.”
Most promising medium sized business – Grace Ubawuchi, Xin and Voltaire Limited
Xin and Voltaire, founded in 2017, is a British premium alcohol company that produces the finest sorbet cocktails, the first of its kind and calibre. Xin and Voltaire CEO, Grace Ubawuchi said of the win: “This win is absolutely amazing. I never thought I’d win as all the finalists are so inspiring. There’s so much that comes from this, obviously the prize money element, but also the chance to work with KPMG. I think that to me, it’s all just invaluable. I want to grow, take over the drinks world and be a better company while doing it, and being part of the Black Entrepreneur’s Awards 2023 cohort will really help me take that next step.”
Most promising small business – Jonathan Bean, Materials Nexus
Materials Nexus is discovering new sustainable materials using generative AI. Co-founder and CEO, Jonathan Bean commented on the award win: “This is such an amazing experience; I could not be happier. This prize will help us provide more internships aimed at encouraging Black heritage people into STEM, particularly machine learning physics and materials science. This support will be amazing and will help us achieve our ambition of solving some of the hardest problems in the world today.”
Motivez is an ambitious, youth-led organisation, founded in 2015 and led by three young Black professionals from Southwark and Lambeth. Their mission is to empower young people aged 14 – 25 from underrepresented minorities to access personalised educational and long-term employment opportunities in STEM. CEO of Motivez, George Imafidon MBE said: “It’s a blessing to have won. There were so many amazing people in our category doing phenomenal work in the social impact space. To be able to represent STEM and show what is possible for an organisation like Motivez has been extraordinary.
“We would like to use this win to help us expand beyond our current focus in five London boroughs, to offer support across the 32 boroughs and then beyond, so that we can make even more impact in the STEM space and support more young people.”
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. All 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.
Karl Edge, Partner and Head of KPMG Private Enterprise in the UK, Europe, the Middle East and Africa said: “The KPMG Black Entrepreneurs’ Awards is key for our impact in the UK entrepreneurial market, where a disproportionately low amount of venture capital investment goes to Black Heritage entrepreneurs. Encouraging and supporting businesses that represent all parts of our society is fundamental to the growth of the UK economy.
“Entrepreneurs are our future: they drive innovation and change, create new ventures, they are risk takers that change the way we do and see things. So, it is vital we support them, and I have been really energised by the breadth and depth of entrepreneurship and innovation on show with our 12 finalists. I look forward to working with all of them over the next 12 months and am thrilled for the impact this award will have on our deserved four winners.”
The KPMG Black Entrepreneurs’ Awards started in 2018 and have so far supported 36 Black heritage founders, delivering over £500,000 worth of investment into the programme. It has provided a launchpad for many successful Black-owned businesses: one former winner went on to establish a global award-winning business now valued at over £12m with annual sales of £650k, and a presence in 27 countries. Other previous finalists have gone on to raise over £3m, expanded their business overseas, became Forbes 30 under 30 and received MBEs for their services in making venture capital more inclusive.