Networking With African Foodies

By West Africa Cooks, 18 February, 2017

The London taste of Africa meetup group members had a meet and greet at the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, London in February 2017. This is the report on what happened.

This event in February was for anybody wishing to gather to network and discuss the business of African and Caribbean food, recipes and cooking. If you are new and would like to start up in this industry you were encouraged to please come along. If you are an entrepreneur in this business looking for new contacts and wonder how you go from start up to scale up again you were told please join us.

What was the planned on the day. It was about coming together in the cafe were we discussed sharing and cost in the business of African food. We were forming, storming, norming, and performing around the subject of marketing, staff and venues. This meetup lasted 60 minutes, we had a lot to get through in that time.

Read The Most Influential People In African Food

African Foodies Workshop

In detail we started with introducing ourselves then the following took shape.

  1. Introductions
    We gathered and I asked the question "Why you are here?" Then I told everybody why I was doing this event and our *SMART objectives aims. This was all about setting and managing expectations for the group meetup
    1. Marketing
      Affiliate marketing with eventbrite. I wanted to point out the benefits of using the platform and offering a percentage cut as an incentive to promote your paid business event see How to increase ticket sales with an affiliate program. Also we should tag all events with African food. If you use this platform put all your free events on this site too. Meetups groups should be used more by event planners, there are many African, food and drink inspired groups which you can ask to be a host. Once you do this you extend your reach via backlink to your website and reach via email marketing. Also anybody can become an organiser and start their own group. Promote for and cater for singles. Finally in this section with talked about sharing social media and why we should share. †Social chain is a company we should make note of as an example of conscious group-think. There is no level playing field you have to work together in the online space to raise the awareness of African food by sharing on all social media platforms
    2. Staff
      There is a challenge of employing staff for startups. Which are low pay, low skill minimum wages and service levels. The **Uber ecomony had seen the rise of the self employed status in low skilled work, which means people are barely making any money when their costs are stripped out. There is a pressure to pay the London living wage, pensions etc and this leaves a thin layer for both employer and employee in staff pay negotiations. So self employment is encouraged. Which means you have to do all the work yourself too because it is way to much to employ others. We talked about where to find the right staff, which means that attending corporate events where food is served and talent spotting is important. Finally we talked about managing staff. There is an opportunity to start a business if you can supply quality staff who have a know how in African food and service. There is a skill in digital which can be utilized by employers too when using younger staff. This means quality continuous training must be at the centre of staffing. What about our older experienced workers we should be reaching out to them too. If staffing is not prioritised then our business in the future will wither and die.
    3. Venues
      Joint ventures with other entrepreneurs and block booking is the best way to find, fund and run an event at venues which may not be in our price range at first. We suggest also looking at venues outside London and the major city centres. There are lots of community centres which could host our events. We need to be aware of major industrial infrastructure, housing and transport works going on. Do we wish to create a legacy for ourselves? We need to see the long term plans and dates or when they will be complete so we can make plans accordingly for our businesses. An example of this is the HS2 and cross rail 2 lines. Gentrification for the African diaspora can be realised if we think long term and strategy. The Africa centre has long term aims of being at the heart of an African community in London. We need to be aware of this and plan our businesses to be ready for opportunities which are associated with this organisation.

    Note. One persons does not have the answers to all these subjects, but as a group we could find them.

  2. Conclusions
    Actions, feedback and networking. I wanted us to act on the information heard from the group and also give feedback on the meetup platform. This was an event about contribution, peer review and feedback. Asking a question, sharing something, or leaving a comment. We need to give feedback. All comments were welcome. The rest of the time was networking with names and contact details past between us all. I then informed all what the next event would be. This would be in Camden and about 1. Sources of investment 2. Repeat business and 3. Making a profit

Read An App For African And Caribbean Food, then review, give feedback and share

Our Notebooks, Ideas And Passion

This was an experiment in empowerment. We brought pens, paper and or tablet and smart phone to make contributions and record what happened, since we wished to get the most out of the event. We would like to thank @ChikasFoods for the plantain chips @bcaheritage for the use of the cafe and @westafricacooks for the workshop and an investment in our future.

West Africa Cooks would like to have more of these meetups and in future at the new Africa Centre. My hope is that after the meetup we will implement ideas which can be measured by the group and not just talked about. Please be ready to contribute how we grow the African food industry.

West Africa Cooks

Follow the Black Cultural Archives @bcaheritage. The rap in the above image was provided by the chef who used to run the restaurant venue called Little Baobab Senegalese. It closed after 9 months of business.

Notes Also see How to increase ticket sales with an affiliate program

*SMART objective or aims are
S - specific, significant, stretching
M - measurable, meaningful, motivational
A - agreed upon, attainable, achievable, acceptable, action-oriented
R - realistic, relevant, reasonable, rewarding, results-oriented
T - time-based, time-bound, timely, tangible, trackable
An example of a SMART objective is 'to increase profits by 10% within the next 12 months'

†Social chain provide social media services to corporate companies for a fee. They get things trending online which can drown out the smaller businesses
**Uber ecomony is about the gig economy, zero-hours contractors - or casual low paid work


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