THE VOICE newspaper has been named best media house of the year at an awards ceremony celebrating African businesses.
The African Enterprise Awards took place on Saturday (Nov 22) to recognise excellence in African entrepreneurship, and The Voice scooped up one of the most coveted gongs.
Set up in 1982, the publication is Britain’s best-selling newspaper for the African and Caribbean community.
It beat contenders including Africa Channel, OHTV, IC Publications and VOX Africa.
George Ruddock, acting managing director at The Voice reflected on the achievement. He said: “We are obviously pleased to be chosen as the Media House of The Year, beating off top-level nominees.
“We are a newspaper which has certainly set out in the last year to focus heavily on Africa because we know it is the largest demographic [out of The Voice readership] here in the UK.
“[Africa] has some of the most impressive, emerging economies in the world and we realise that the focus on Africa, its culture, its music and what it offers the UK is very important and we will continue to focus on the continents and its diaspora through our pages.”
Washington Kapapiro, chairman of the Association for African Owned Enterprises said: “The awards represent a highly valued symbol of achievement; a coveted possession of the business people, professionals, academics, companies and community leaders who receive an award.”
The inaugural event was held at the Grand Connaught Rooms, in Holborn, central London, and welcomed a wealth of accomplished nominees.
The winners in each respective category were decided upon by an independent panel of judges such as leading financial journalist Gail Mwamba and Debbie Thomas, head of Africa Services Group at Deloitte.
Following the Brixton riots, The Voice was founded by Jamaican-born accountant, Val McCalla, who was awarded a grant from the Greater London Council, now the Greater London Authority (GLA), to fund his business venture.
Over its three-decade-plus reign as “Britain’s Best Black Newspaper”, The Voice has served the black community by giving them a voice where other mainstream newspapers have failed.
It has over the years been a thorn in the side of the establishment, campaigning on numerous issues and championing the causes of black people nationwide.
Ruddock discussed how the readership has changed over the years. “It has certainly improved, it has grown,” he said.
“We have taken on a number of issues to do with Africa this year, for instance, it is a hundred years since the emergence of modern Africa, the scramble for Africa.
“We have focused on that this year, as well as other issues such as the growth of Afrobeats which is one of the most popular music genres around.
“So I think everything points to the fact that Africa is on the rise, and we hope to satisfy the readership which is also growing in that area, starting with more focus groups.”
The black African population in Britain has doubled from 0.8 percent to 1.7 percent, or from 484,783 to 989,628 nominally, according to the 2011 census.
Between 2001 and 2011, those who identified as Black Caribbean has stabilised at 1.1 per cent, increasing nominally by only 29,204.
And those who identify as Black Other increased from 0.2 per cent to 0.5 percent, with a total population of 28,437.
AWARD CATEGORIES & WINNERS:
Small Business of the Year- Renaissance Personne
Young Business Leader of the Year – Ashish Thakkar – Mara Group
African Journalist of the Year- Yvonne Ndege – Al-jazeera
Media House of the Year – The Voice
African Restaurant of the Year – Shaka Zulu
African Academic of the Year – Dr. Thandika Mkandawire – London School of Economics
African Charity of the Year – Africa Justice Foundation
African Personality of the Year – Eddie Kadi – Comedian
Community Champion of the Year – Barbara Kasumu – Elevation Networks
“Out of Africa” Company of the Year – Eco Bank
African Financier of the Year – Homestrings
Business Executive of the Year – Tony Ofori – Bank of America
Exporter of the Year – Western Union
Company of the Year – SAB Miller
“Friend of Africa” Award – Africa Research Institute
“Lifetime of Enterprise” Award – Lord Sheikh
African Business Woman of the Year – Elsie Owusu OBE
African Businessman of the Year – Douglas Chikohora – Cluff