I had a real feeling of sadness on Friday. The conference was over, and everyone was packing to go their separate ways. It’s like when you attend events like these you enter a bubble. You form a little community, everyone gathers together, sharing and discussing, you eat together, stay in the same hotel, and the rest of the world is all but blocked out. I’ve made so many new friends, and have many business opportunities to action. The whole event was extremely rewarding, insightful and has expanded my knowledge and network. I am on a mission when I get home to organize Indigenous businesses to come to the next Minority Supplier Development United Kingdom (MSDUK) Conference here in 2018.
The final day of the MSDUK Conference was the Business Opportunity Fair. Or otherwise known as the tradeshow back home. I’ll use tradeshow when I refer to it, as it is easier. The tradeshow showcased 32 ethnic minority businesses and 12 Corporations. Just like at Supply Nation the tradeshow was an opportunity for businesses to set up a marketplace to meet and greet prospective buyers and discuss their needs. The room was a buzz with energy and conversations. I wandered along through each row reading the business names and seeing what they were presenting on their tables. I randomly talked to a few business owners just to find about their products, they had interesting set ups and I was intrigued.
Outside the main tradeshow hall there were a stream of workshops being held for business owners to attend. The workshops included topics on social media and finance. Upstairs there were corporate lounges available for corporates to have one on one meetings with prospective suppliers. And later in the afternoon there were some business roundtables that explored key topics on supplier diversity and networking.
I have to admit, I actually snuck off in the arvo to get a little more sightseeing in. My new friend Reshma from the USA and I headed for Soho. We ended up exploring the shops in Convent Garden and wandered down to Trafalgar Square. We had the tube down pat crossing lines to Oxford Circus and wandering around to Soho. I nearly got hit by a big red bus for stepping out too quickly, lucky I reacted quick smart.
That night was the much anticipated Awards evening (Gala dinner) being held in our hotel, the Grange Tower Bridge. I made a big deal about getting dolled up for it, and splashed out on hair and make up to couple my new dress I had brought from home. The night was Indian themed with Indian canapes and a drum player who welcomed us. The night was Mc’d by an Indian actress/writer and tv personality Meera Syal, and she was absolutely hilarious and had me in stitches. They also had a special guest speaker Ade Adepitan, a Paralympic athlete who shared his personal story with some strong messages of ‘never give up and always continue to believe’. He was truly inspiring. It was an amazing night, I can’t say I partied to early hours like all the rest, I actually piked at 11:30pm which is so not like me! Til next time.