18 September 2018

Black History Month Special: Black-Owned Businesses In The UK

October is Black History Month in the UK, with 2018 being the 31st year since celebrations began. To mark the occasion, we’ve produced an animation showing how the geography of black Briton has changed over time, since the first census in 1981.

The map shows the movement and distinct growth of the black population in the UK. 

Black History Month Special: Black-Owned Businesses In The UK“Growth of the black population in England, 1981-2011” Source: UK National Census

From the 1940s-60s, the UK black population was mostly made up of poorer Caribbean’s, who had come as part of the Windrush generation. Mass migration from the Caribbean continued throughout the two decades, with workers filling the labour market, particularly in hospitals and public transportation.

It wasn’t until the late 1980s that a new wave of black migrants from Africa began settling in the UK, mostly wealthy Nigerians and Ghanaians along with refugees from Somalia and Zimbabwe. By 1991, according to the national census, there were around 500,000 black people in London alone, with a large proportion of those being second generation UK citizens. At this point, many started moving outwards from London, especially to the West Midlands.

In 2001, blacks made up 3 percent of the total UK population, the majority of which were Caribbean, African and British-born. Reports at this time estimate that ethnic minorities were contributing around £25-30 billion to the UK economy, with approximately 10,000 black-owned business registered in London. Businesses that were London-based made up 4 percent of all London businesses and provided around 70,000 jobs. The biggest industries for black-owned firms in London were real estate and retail.

By 2011 the black population had doubled and is set to continue growing along with other ethnic minority populations. 8 percent of the population was ethnic minority in 2001 and that’s set to reach 20 percent by 2051, according to a Leeds study. The study also anticipates these communities will move from deprived local authorities to more affluent areas.

The rise in population, access to resource and improved education results has seen led to a corresponding rise in black-owned businesses. Whilst you might not see all of these on the high street, they contribute significantly to the UK economy.

Top 10 most successful black-owned businesses in the UK.

Most were founded in the past 10 years, are based in London, and come from the food, beauty and fashion industries:

  • 1. Jamaican Patty Co. was founded in 2013 by Theresa Roberts, an entrepreneur born in Black River, St.Elizabeth. The food chain offers simple and authentic Jamaican patties, plus soups, coffee, juice and imported cakes.

  • 2. Afrocenchix was founded in 2009 by Joycelyn and Rachael, who met at university in Birmingham. Their hair products use natural and organic ingredients, whilst teaching black women how to manage their afro hair.

  • 3. Detola and Geek is an award-winning lifestyle brand that offers African-inspired handmade fabric lampshades, cushions and more for the home.

  • 4. Moor Hair is a London-based, family-owned company established in 2017. The idea for a hair shop came when a number of the women in the family started to embrace their natural hair texture. They supply hair and skin care products online and via a brick and mortar store in London.

  • 5. Sinclair London was founded by Alicya Sinclair, who in 2013 became the first Savile Row trained tailor to launch a women’s-only tailoring brand. The luxury fashion house provides bespoke tailoring and designer clothing for women.

  • 6. Elizabeth’s Cake Emporium was founded by Elizabeth Solaru in 2007. Their client base includes royalty, celebrities, TV shows, five-star hotels and glamorous West End stores.

  • 7. StartTeck is a creative and web design agency founded by Paul Otote in 2015. Paul is a trained nutritionist and applies his knowledge to branding.
  • 8. Dark Sugars Chocolate was founded in 2013 by Nyanga. People flock to her store on Brick Lane in London to taste Ghanaian cocoa bean truffles.
  • 9. SAMSGift is an independent family run gift shop based in Milton Keynes offering value jewellery, gifts and accessories.

  • 10. Lynch & Mason was launched in 2016 and tailors luxury items for the tall gentleman in London.