The Founder of PhoenixRize alongside 5 Immigrant entrepreneurs took part in a round-table discussion with King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima on immigration and entrepreneurship at Dogpatch Labs, a start-up hub in the CHQ building in Dublin’s docklands. The round-table discussion with the Dutch royals was chaired by Liz McCarthy of Dogpatch Labs. Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander & Queen Máxima of the Netherlands visited Dogpatch Labs to learn how Ireland’s leading start-up hub is providing a platform to showcase the latest smart building technologies being deployed in Ireland, and the future of retail innovation.
The founder of PhoenixRize Consulting, Adaku Ezeudo attended a 3-day African Women Entrepreneurs Cooperative (AWEC) Leadership Summit in Cairo in 2018. It was a great honour to share my business journey, meet and inspire other ambitious entrepreneurs and form collaborations.
Adaku is also a mentor with the African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative (AWEC), an innovative 12-month, leadership and business management capacity building program empowering 200 African women entrepreneurs with the knowledge and network needed to build resilient and scalable businesses. She mentors with five African based entrepreneurs annually, hosting monthly mentoring sessions, quarterly zoom calls and providing regular feedback to AWEC management team to enable insight on participant engagement and business support needs.
Insights from Ethnic Entrepreneur Expo 2018
Now that the dust has settled on our first Ethnic Entrepreneur Expo, I wanted to share some insights I had on reflecting about the event.
The Ethnic Entrepreneur Expo was held as part of Fingal Local Enterprise week, 2018 in Blanchardstown’s Crowne Plaza hotel. The event took place on the Friday, the 9th of March and was a great end to a wonderful week of enterprise events organised by the Fingal Local Enterprise Office.
PhoenixRize was delighted to be involved in organising the Ethnic Entrepreneur Expo for a number of reasons. Fingal is a hugely diverse part of Dublin and as a business owner, ethnic entrepreneur and diversity and inclusion consultant, I long to see a more diverse representation of local businesses at the many events that are held in our locality each year.
The reality is that even though a large sector of the population in Fingal is comprised of ethnic communities, they do not mingle easily with the other parts of the community. I have seen how community organisations and businesses alike tend to mix with ‘their own’ as it were. While I can understand why that is, I feel strongly that as a business community we are stronger when we unite. Greater diversity breathes new life into our networks and brings increased opportunities to do business together and for collaboration.
Not only is it important for the local business community as a whole to get to know each other, but it is of the utmost importance that those business owners who are struggling or finding life as an entrepreneur difficult get the support that they need. Often, I have seen that although lots of supports are put in place by public sector bodies, ethnic entrepreneurs do not access them. It is not that this group of entrepreneurs don’t want or need the support. What business person would refuse supports put in place to help them succeed?
Often, the reason that ethnic entrepreneurs don’t access the supports available to them is because they are not accessible to them as they are to other entrepreneurs and business owners. When you come from a culture where forms are not a key part of business processes, understanding the large and detailed forms that are required of us here can act as a real stumbling block.
Ethnic entrepreneurs often come with ideas about banks and funding institutions that are different to how the banks operate in Ireland. Government services are another area that ethnic entrepreneurs may hold preconceptions about. For this reason, it was so beneficial for all attendees at the Ethnic Entrepreneur Expo that both the ethnic entrepreneurs and the support services that work with entrepreneurs had the opportunity to speak and to be heard. Support services cannot remedy a problem that they are not aware exists, equally, ethnic entrepreneurs can’t be expected to seek help from someone that they don’t realise wants to help them.
As mentioned in previous posts, we had a great turn out for the Ethnic Entrepreneur Expo, with business owners from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Eastern Europe and Ireland all in attendance. We by no means solved all the problems faced by ethnic entrepreneurs in one morning, but I am confident that we have an event which will run again and that will grow in its ability to deliver tangible results for attendees. This is just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a good start.
Ethnic Entrepreneur Expo a Huge Success
I am delighted to report that our inaugural Ethnic Entrepreneur Expo last Friday as a huge success! As an ethnic entrepreneur myself, this event was close to my own heart. It was a great opportunity to bring business owners from various ethnic communities together to talk business and forge new relationships.
From the feedback I have received so far, the event was greatly appreciated by all in attendance. We had incredible diversity among the attendees which numbered over 100 people. There were people from Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Middle East, South America, Eastern Europe and, of course, Ireland.
Not only was there diversity in relation to from where people originated, but we also had people join us from different stages in their entrepreneurial journey. We were honoured with the number of dignitaries who took time out of their busy schedules to be with us on Friday at the Ethnic Entrepreneur Expo. The Mayor of Fingal, CEO of Fingal County Council, the Head of the School of Humanities ITB, the Head of Enterprise from the Local Enterprise Office, the CEO of Blanchardstown Area Partnership, Social Inclusion & Community Activation Programme Manager of Blanchardstown Area Partnership were all in attendance along with local councillors and a representative of the Department of Social Welfare.
We are also very grateful to the speakers who joined us for the Ethnic Entrepreneur Expo from AIB, Bank of Ireland and Microfinance Ireland. They provided our audience with very useful, actionable advice on how to go about accessing supports and resources, and they in turn learned of the unique challenges faced by ethnic entrepreneurs and will, hopefully, be able to take this into consideration in the future. It was great to see the level of interaction between the funding institutions and the ethnic entrepreneurs. This event was able to put these people in direct contact in a very different way than usual and it seemed to work very well.
Some of the positive feedback I received from the attendees of the Ethnic Entrepreneur Expo showed quite clearly that there is an appetite for more this type of event in the Dublin area, but on a larger scale. This is a fair and welcome comment. I, too, would like to see more events like this, as a regular part of the business community schedule of events, around Dublin and further afield.
It has also become clear that there is an appetite and need for mentors, who themselves have an ethnic background, to work with ethnic entrepreneurs in helping them to develop and grow their businesses. The feedback also showed that there is a demand for entrepreneurial training and workshops for ethnic entrepreneurs. This positive feedback from the event gives the organisers and those in the sector and geographical area food for thought about how to expand and develop opportunities for ethnic entrepreneurs in the future. This is very positive indeed.
In Short, A Success
I’m very pleased at how the event unfolded. The Ethnic Entrepreneur Expo had a great team behind it and they really pulled it out of the bag on the day. The staff at The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Blanchardstown were wonderful, they provided us with an excellent venue and catering.
It was clear that the networking opportunities were embraced by many, the business showcase was inspiring, and the panel discussion was extremely engaging.
Over all, I couldn’t have asked for the event to go better and I would like to thank everyone involved for their dedication and hard work. Thanks also to everyone who made the effort to come along, you made it the success that it was.
U-Fest is an Intercultural festival that brings diverse communities together to celebrate their talents, skills and uniqueness. It improves social cohesion, through increasing intercultural dialogue and encouraging cooperation among local communities and businesses.
)The event provides a social space for migrant communities and other minority led organisations to express themselves in a creative way, interact & foster working relationships with other parts of the community.
U-fest is an incredible day for all the family, encapsulating music, art, cultural performances, drama, food, an enterprise fair, family fun day attractions and the sharing of ideas.