Black British Business Awards and Weber Shandwick RISE extends programme to support more UK Black-owned businesses 

The Black British Business Awards’ (BBBAwards) Enterprise Academy, a membership community providing support for UK Black entrepreneurs, and global PR firm Weber Shandwick RISE initiative is now open for applications from Black-owned businesses seeking to supercharge their profile.



RISE was launched in 2021 to increase the visibility and representation of Black-owned businesses across the media landscape, to ensure the industry is a reflective mirror of the vibrant Black business community.


So far Weber Shandwick has worked with five Black-owned businesses on a pro-bono basis. A campaign for Chuku’s, the world’s first Nigerian tapas restaurant, exceeded expectations securing 800 bookings in six weeks and a viral launch video gaining 700,000 views, with engagements from high-profile figures including Jourdan Dunn and Maro Itoje.


Ifey & Emeka, co-founders Chuku’s, said: “We knew already how expensive PR fees are and for a small business like us having an agency on a retainer wasn’t feasible. However, I don’t think we anticipated the difference having Weber Shandwick alongside us would make. They’ve come to really feel like a part of the Chuku’s team and we can lean on them for advisory support. But their real power is in campaigns and being a part of Project RISE as we launched our Six Week Charge campaign made a significant difference to us and the future of our business. If you’re thinking about whether to apply, don’t. Apply. You’ll be so thankful you did!”


In this first cohort of RISE, Weber Shandwick also worked with Inclusion Labs, who create programmes that embed inclusivity into schools; Jomas Associates, a leading engineering company; TekiHealth, which provides remote diagnostic solutions; and Eva Sonaike, the eponymous interiors company that uses West-African prints in soft furnishings.


Eva Sonaike Creative Director and Founder said: “Participating in the RISE program has been a transformative experience for my business, especially in understanding and engaging our diverse audiences. The detailed insights into audience behaviour, competitor activities, and market dynamics have been instrumental in implementing a robust marketing approach that not only streamlined our communication efforts but also maximised the impact on our revenue.


“The guidance by Weber Shandwick throughout the program was exceptional. The team was hands-on, extremely approachable, and consistently went above and beyond to support our goals. I highly recommend the RISE program to any organisation looking to deepen engagement with their audience and achieve sustained business growth through strategic and impactful marketing.”


In its next cohort, due to launch in April 2024, Weber Shandwick will work with three more businesses to accelerate their reach and influence with mainstream audiences.

RISE provides Black-owned businesses with pro-bono PR services to accelerate their reach and influence with customers and other stakeholders. Each chosen business is given £20,000 worth of consultancy time in the form of five packages that each address a distinct communications challenge. These packages will be tailored to each business’ specific needs covering creative campaigns, strategic positioning, thought leadership, social media or political advocacy.


Despite the enormous success of Black-owned businesses across a variety of sectors, these businesses are severely underrepresented within mainstream media. Black-owned businesses also face disproportionately more challenges than their white counterparts in other areas including access to investment and finance, lack of representation in senior ranks and discrimination.


Dr Sophie Chandauka MBE, Chair and Executive Founder of the Black British Business Awards said: “I am immensely proud of our partnership with Weber Shandwick and the transformative Rise initiative. Together, we recognise the critical importance of publicity and product placement in ensuring that Black-owned businesses breakthrough and prosper in the B2C and B2B global marketplace. From Nigerian tapas sensation Chuku’s to the creative brilliance of Eva Sonaike, whose products feature in prestigious stores such as Liberty, Amara and Selfridges in London, each success contributes to our mission of reshaping narratives, breaking barriers, and redefining possibilities.”


Helen Bennett, UK CEO at Weber Shandwick said: “It has been impressive to see colleagues across our business come together for this cause, helping cement RISE as a core part of our commitment to enact lasting change that addresses systemic inequalities within our control. We are looking forward to continuing the BBBAwards partnership and supporting the next cohort of businesses to see how we can continue to help raise the visibility of Black-owned businesses to a wider range of audiences.”



Weber Shandwick and the BBBAwards are calling Black business owners and entrepreneurs from across the country to apply to RISE. Applications for RISE open on 9th May and close on 7th June 2024.

To apply to RISE, please visit: