CEO’s New Year Message

ceos message

Hello Everyone,

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the MSDUK management team, I would like to extend warm festive greetings and wish you all an extremely successful and joyous 2019! I am sure you will all enjoy the Christmas break with your family and friends!

2018 was a monumental year for MSDUK- 2 new colleagues joining the team, an office in London, new faces on the board of directors- this all came together to deliver our 6th biennial conference in Birmingham that attracted over 500 attendees from all across the world and the launch of our ambitious 3-year growth plan!

Let me sum up some of our achievements in 2018:

  • First-ever executive education residential programme delivered jointly by the Ivy League’s Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth and Aston Business School, Birmingham was held just before our conference. The Building a High Performing Minority Business’ weekend residential was attended by 16 high-growth business owners from the UK and South Africa. These business owners were sponsored by Cummins, Bristol Myers Squibb, Citi, EY, Accenture and MSD.
  • We hosted our second Innovation Challenge at the conference that attracted nearly 80 entries with 43% female founders and the average age of our 12 finalists was 26 years old. This reiterates our commitment to unlocking innovation through diversity and reaching out to young entrepreneurs.
  • A hugely successful MSDUK 2018 Conference & Awards in Birmingham during September hosted over 500 attendees from all across the world and saw the launch of our ambitious 3-year growth plan integrating innovation, knowledge and procurement to deliver greater value to all our stakeholders.
  • 2018 saw an increase in the number of new business won by ethnic minority businesses, higher value of business generated and more B2B business transactions within the network.

More than £56m worth of business was awarded to EMBs within MSDUK network in 2017 and this year, we have seen 12 new EMBs that have won business including the likes of Curious Agency, Swayam Group, Gibbs Hybrid, Iconic Event Management, Brocks Compass, Praxis, SAVORTEX and others.

What’s in store for 2019?

  • As we start implementing our ambitious 2020 growth plan, you will see the MSDUK network grow in size and capability; in addition, there will be a bigger MSDUK team in Leicester and London delivering new programmes, events and helping you all make new connections.
  • We will be welcoming 2019 with many new corporate members, including Sony Pictures, Morgan Stanley, Google, Eaton and many more.
  • Our growing network of partners will provide a range of products and services to support growth of EMBs. 2019 will see MSDUK work strategically with University College of London, Aston Business School, Digital Catapult, Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply and our global partners including NMSDC, CAMSC, Supply Nation, SRMSDC, SASDC and many others.
  • A range of new programmes including Procurement masterclasses for EMBs, ‘Building Business Leaders of the Future’ programme, CPO Roundtable in partnership with CIPS, Investment Readiness & Pitching workshops, Industry Forums for innovators will be introduced in 2019
  • 2019 Business Show, Innovation Challenge and Knowledge Forum will be held in London on 17th & 18th September and the Tuck -Aston ‘Building a High Performing Minority Business’ residential will be held between 18th-21st
  • The much awaited MSDUK Benchmarking Tool, developed in partnership with Accenture & CVM Solutions, will finally be launched in January.


Every social entrepreneur like myself has a vision to make a bigger impact and we never stop dreaming! However, these dreams only come true with the support of people and organisations that put their belief and trust in the big vision!

I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to our corporate sponsors that have funded the hubs and the individual programmes and initiatives- they include Accenture, EY, Intel, Cummins, Bristol Myers-Squibb, AgileOne – and look forward to their continued support as we embark on delivering an ambitious 2020 growth plan.

Wishing you all a joyous festive season with your loved ones and here’s to looking forward to a continued mutual success in 2019!

– Mayank Shah, CEO

Q&A with Syed Ahmed, CEO of SAVORTEX, about his time on the Tuck residential programme


At the end of November, one of  the runners-up of the MSDUK 2017 Innovation Challenge, award winning entrepreneur, Syed Ahmed, Managing Director of SAVORTEX was at the Ivy League’s Tuck School of Business in Dartmouth in the US, attending the week long residential – “Building High Performing Minority Business” programme, having been offered a full scholarship worth $10k by EY.

Tuck’s minority business education programmes help owners adjust their strategy, refine their operations, and build their enterprises to scale.

The “Building a High-Performing Minority Business” programme focuses on strategy implementation to drive results, leverage the value chain, and improve the bottom line. The programme is designed for owners of diverse businesses who are committed to advancing their business capabilities. A curriculum mixing strategy and operations helps these owners leverage the value chain to their full advantage. Participants also explore financial statements in order to get a better understanding of how they can improve cash flow and increase profits.

Over the last two years, 10 ethnic minority business-owners from the UK have attended this fully-funded residential at Tuck and earlier in September this year, MSDUK delivered a weekend residential programme here in the UK, delivered jointly by Tuck School of Business & Aston Business School, that was attended by 16 entrepreneurs from the UK and South Africa.

The MSDUK team reached out to Syed on the last day of the programme and asked him to share his thoughts and experience at Tuck. Here is a quick 60 seconds interview with Syed:



syed ahmed at tuck school of business


Q: Syed, please tell us briefly about your business and how you secured this scholarship to attend the week-long residential at the Tuck School of Business?

SAVORTEX is an award winning British, IoT (internet of things) hand drying technology manufacturer and we have just launched our latest innovation. Built on Intel® ATOM technology, the adDryer uses just 1/3rd of the energy compared to traditional dryers, and monitors dryer usage and washroom footfall in real-time, then wirelessly reporting the data to the web for analytics, alerting cleaners to washroom inspections based on actual footfall.

Further, the adDryer shows a full motion advert in response to users drying their hands; it creates advertising revenue per dry for the washroom owner (and us) by allowing (and empowering) local businesses and media agencies to advertise to its users on a one-to-one basis.

The scholarship to attend the week-long residential – “Building a high performing minority business” at Ivy Leagues’ Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth was offered to me by EY after becoming one of the top three innovators at the MSDUK 2017 Innovation Challenge.

Q: The biggest challenge for any entrepreneur attending this programme is being away from their business for at least a week. Having completed this programme, do you think it was time well spent and why?

Fortunately, we have a great team at SAVORTEX, so even though I missed them, they just got on with it! The Tuck BHPB programme is necessary for all entrepreneurs who want to scale up! So it is absolutely worth every minute.

Q: What were the top 3 learnings you took away from the programme?

1. Strategy
2. Financial planning
3. Scaling up!

What impact has attending this programme made on you as an individual and on your business?

I’m sure the impact will be high i.e. SAVORTEX will now scale up rapidly and realise its full ambition; it means everything!

Any thoughts / messages for entrepreneurs in the MSDUK network about this programme?

I recommend if anyone has the opportunity to attend the Tuck BHPB programme they should grab it with both hands!


MSDUK was delighted to introduce a weekend entrepreneurial retreat in partnership with Ivy League’s Tuck School of Business, USA and Aston Business School, Birmingham UK in September 2018.This exclusive programme was offered to all certified ethnic minority and women-owned businesses allowing all participants to also attend the MSDUK 2018 Conference & Awards to connect with global business leaders and C-Suite corporate executives from all across the world.

To find out more about the 2018 programme, click here

To find out more information about the 2019 programme, please contact Priya Arora


Toy inventor Assim Ishaque to gift toys to deserving kids this Christmas


An award winning toy inventor from Nottingham, plans to gift his toys to deserving children that might not otherwise get a wonderful gift this Christmas.

‘Whilst the Christmas season is full of joy and happiness, for some people, this really a tough time,’ said Assim Ishaque, 46,  Inventor of these tactile pixel art bricks that he originally invented for his own children in Nottingham.

‘I’ve seen how much happiness Simbrix brings and want spread a little cheer in the season of giving’

Simbrix is a pixel art brick toy for children and adults, non gender biased creativity toy, that is fun, distracting, relaxing and an alternative to consoles, tablets and computer games.

Simbrix has opened nominations for children, from 6 years old, that have shown courage, been caring for an ill family member, or whose family maybe going through difficult times.

The child might just brighten everyone’s day or needs cheering up and would enjoy being creative with Simbrix’s pixel art beads.

Nominations can come from family, friends, teachers, carers or someone that really know the child and their situation.  Simbrix is funding the whole thing. The short application is at

Our moto is ‘Connect and Wow’, said Jarrid, 25, Creative Director of Simbrix, who started with company as an apprentice two years ago.

‘This is about recognising deserving children and sharing, which for me is one of the true meanings of Christmas’.

‘I don’t work for Santa’ said Assim, ‘but hope he approves of what we are trying to do’.

For more information about Simbrix, visit their official website: or watch a video explanation here:

You can also find more information about the project with the #SimbrixGiveaGift hashtag.


MSDUK: 2018 in Numbers

2018 has been an outstanding year and here are the numbers to prove it! Before we flip the calendar to 2019, let’s have a look at our 2018 stats.

2018 in numbers_header


2 copy

Gibbs Hybrid’s Gavin Stead compares project management to Spotify for a Gartner audience


Taking the keynote stage at October’s Gartner IT Sourcing Summit, Gavin Stead, Head of Programme Services at Gibbs Hybrid, explained how Spotify – or Netflix or Zipcar – is similar to our Project Management as a Service (PMaaS) offering.

Why? Just as with Spotify you can pick more or less any tune you could ever want without having shelves full of CDs or vinyl, PMaaS allows your business to have top quality, fully qualified project management available exactly when you want it – and not when you don’t. With a scarcity of project manager talent, and the resulting high cost, companies have the choice of seconding existing staff or having an underemployed project manager waiting for her next assignment. Just like all those vinyl records waiting to be played. PMaaS, Gavin explained to the packed audience, gives you all of the skills at a lot lower cost.

For more information, please visit:


article written by Gibbs Hybrid

Dynamyk Yoga teaches Innocent Drinks staff about mindfulness for Wellbeing Week wellness session

dynamyk and innocent logos

Michelle Fanus, founder of start-up wellness business Dynamyk Yoga was invited to speak to the staff at Innocent Drinks about the importance of wellbeing and maintaining a healthy work life balance.

The 1-hour session, which was a part of Innocent Drinks’ staff Wellbeing Week, took place on Wednesday 3rd October at the Fruit Tower head office in London. Topics included “Switching off and Zoning out”, “Self-Care and ‘Me’ time” and “How to say ‘no’ nicely”; although Innocent already have weekly in-house yoga classes in place, they invited Michelle to share some advice on how a busy professional should manage their time.

As a serial entrepreneur and 18-year yogi, Michelle rose to the challenge and presented an exciting, energetic speaking slot on time management, self-care, sleep improvement, mindfulness, meditation and, of course, tips on how to get the most out of their next yoga class.


In other news, Dynamyk Yoga have announced plans for their first 5-day yoga retreat, scheduled to take place in May next year.

The retreat, which is open to everyone especially those new to yoga, will be held in Tuscany, commencing on Monday 29th April, ending on Friday 3rd May 2019. Prices start at £650 pp for a double occupancy room, 3 meals per day, 6 yoga classes, a wine tasting evening and an excursion to San Gimignano. Flights are extra and will be from London to Pisa.

See or get in touch by emailing if you’d like some wellbeing tips or a yoga teacher for weekly yoga at your premises, or for information about the retreat.

Iconic Event Management deliver successful Business Opportunity Day at MSDUK Conference 2018

msduk exhibition

Presented with the challenge to provide new and exciting event innovations for the Business Opportunity Day; whilst using the event space to its full potential, Iconic  set about the brief using our creativity whilst firmly keeping both the exhibitor and delegate experience at the forefront of our thinking.

The delivery consisted of us creating event zones throughout the event space in order for the MSDUK business exhibitors to present their products & services; opportunities to meet the buyer; lounge area for delegates to relax / network; and creating an innovative silent seminar workshop area, providing both the presenters and seminar workshop audiences with interaction without distraction, through the use of headphones.


What our client thought…


“It was a pleasure working with Roger for our 2018 Business Opportunity Day. His innovative ideas particularly the silent workshop zone, enabled us to take this year’s event to the next level and elevate our delegates’ experience who attended on the day.”

Harriet Sullivan, Events Manager, MSDUK


For your innovative conference or exhibition ideas for your next event or simply to view our latest brochure to see what event services we provide, contact Iconic – 0800 689 4306 /




Green Park, the executive diversity recruitment specialists, has released its third annual Top 100 BAME Leaders in Business Index to celebrate the professional achievements of Britain’s ethnic minority leadership community and their commitment to delivering positive change.

This year’s Index includes leaders from across the UK private, public and third sectors, highlighting the importance that ethnic minority role models have in helping to inspire the next generation of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) leaders.

It is designed to highlight the talent, experience and expertise of ethnic minority leaders who are still currently chronically under-represented at board level in both private, public and third sector organisations.

Green Park applies a strict selection criterion to identify 800 ethnic minority individuals that comprise the talent pool from which the Top 100 will be selected, with the majority occupying director, executive and non-executive positions.  To establish the final shortlist for the Top 100 BAME Leaders in Business Index, Green Park applies a propriety scoring methodology judged by an independent panel of experts, which identifies candidates’ professional achievements and commitment to delivering positive change.

The expert judging panel includes Ken Olisa OBE, Chief Executive Officer of Restoration Partners; Karen Blackett OBE, Chairwoman of Mediacom Plc; Natasha Adams, Chief People Officer at Tesco; David Tyler, Chairman at J. Sainsbury Plc; and Amee Chande, Non-Executive Director of BBA Aviation Plc.

Raj Tulsiani, CEO of Green Park, said:  “If we are to truly change attitudes to diversity and inclusion in senior leadership across the public, private and third sectors we need to highlight that there are already talented candidates doing incredible work. The problem is that there are not enough of these leaders. We need action to ensure BAME talent in the leadership pipeline can break through the glass ceilings that remain in many organisations. Organisations also need governance structures that will appeal to the widest possible talent pool and to ensure an inclusive environment to prevent a talent drain.”

Download index



About Green Park

Since its inception in 2006, Green Park has become one of Europe’s most trusted suppliers of executive search, senior interim management and diversity and leadership development consultancy across the Private, Public and Third sectors. An award winning supplier, Green Park has consistently featured at the top of the recruitment industry league tables, most recently named in Recruiter as No. 1 in the Hot 10 Public Sector Providers, No. 1 in the Productivity Hot 20 & No. 2 in the Recruiter Hot 100.

At Green Park we are passionate advocates of the power of diversity as a source of competitive advantage, setting a benchmark for innovation and commitment to consistently attract diverse groups of appointable candidates.  In 2012 we were appointed founding members of the National Equality Standard, representing the only recruitment firm on the founding board. We also host the Diversity Recruitment Institute for Value and Excellence (DRIVE) dedicated to sharing global best practices in D&I made relevant through research and toolkits useful in a UK context.




MSDUK CEO Mayank Shah will be one of 125 business leaders to be featured in a diversity exhibition. The Diversity Works’, project examines the ‘diversity proposition’ through a series of portraits and perspectives featuring; business and thought leaders, managers and agents of change.

Over a period of 3 years more than 125 business leaders, managers and agents of change, including, Sir Nicholas Serota, Tanni Grey-Thompson DBE, Inga Beale DBE, John Bercow MP, Lord Browne, Vanessa Kingori MBE and Gok Wan were photographed and interviewed by Shahid Bashir. (

The project examines the value of rethinking leadership and culture to develop people, processes and systems that are inclusive and facilitate difference in the broadest sense of the word. It asks…

– How is diversity actually perceived and experienced within the context of work?
– What is the positive core of diversity and how does it relate to the positive core of an organisation?
– What are the negative stereotypes that are dismissively associated with diversity?
– What are the conditions under which diversity and inclusion can flourish in organisations?

The portraits have been taken in a particular style moving away from the happy, smiley corporate portraits we are all used to seeing. Instead, they incorporate a contemporary black and white, deadpan format as contributors are asked to draw on their lived experience and reflect on a specific moment in their lives when they were excluded and felt left.

As a business psychologist and lens-based artist, Shahid takes the white cube concept into large corporate spaces to get people to slow down, pause and ponder on their own lived experience. Creating a strong interactive element to his photographic installations, they are engagement pieces with multiple layers of meaning that facilitate self-reflection, reveal fresh perspectives and start new conversations. The aim…, is to encourage people to open up to new possibilities, to experience new ways of being and playing at work.

In his personal work, Shahid playfully interrogates the idea of the authentic self, examining the interplay between external forces and internal narratives and how this dynamic drives behaviour. His approach is informed by his roots in positive psychology and appreciative inquiry which is embedded in his practice. He is currently creating new works translating his approach to wider contexts, which can be seen at,

Flushable and biodegradable sanitary products take MSDUK Innovation Challenge title



L-R Helena Hutton, Cummins; Aaron Koshy and Olivia Ahn, Co-Founders of Polipop; Ava Vidal, MSDUK Awards Dinner host

A start-up business that makes the world’s first safely-flushable and biodegradable sanitary products has been crowned as the winner of the MSDUK Innovation Challenge, sponsored by Cummins.

Polipop received the accolade at a glittering awards ceremony in Birmingham on 26th September as part of a two-day conference celebrating supply chain diversity – MSDUK 2018.

Over 600 delegates, 200 entrepreneurs, 100 buyers, 60 exhibitors, 40 global brands and 50 supplier diversity leaders attended the event, whilst a select panel of investors and supply chain experts heard pitches from 12 exciting new businesses aiming impress them with their innovative ideas and win the MSDUK Innovation Challenge.

This year’s prizes include scholarships worth $10,000 to the prestigious Ivy League Tuck School of Business in the USA sponsored by EY and Accenture, funding opportunities, a place on Accenture’s Development programme and mentoring pitch workshops with international motivational speaker David McQueen.

Polipop have developed pads that break apart down any toilet within minutes. They are 100% biodegradable and body-safe, are plant-based and contain zero parabens or perfumes.

Olivia Ahn, Co-Founder at Polipop said;

‘We are thrilled to have won and to now be able to go to Tuck Business School next year along with RAB Microfludics and Twipes. This prize is unique amongst innovation challenges, in that the business course based in New Hampshire will enable us to not only further the start-up but also to explore the American approach to entrepreneurship.

‘’Being a London-based start-up, we have worked with many British and European mentors and advisers. We look forward to exploring the American market and audience whilst in America, and of course, putting into practice what we learn at Tuck Business School.

‘’Working with the other finalists throughout the innovation challenge showed us the calibre, talent and passion in the teams behind the start-ups. It was inspiring to learn from each other and to be announced as the winner was an incredible honour.’’

Mayank Shah, CEO of MSDUK said:

“Innovation through diversity is set to power the UK economy over the next decade and this was the mantra behind this year’s Conference and Awards. For over 10 years, MSDUK have been dedicated to improving diversity in entrepreneurship and driving inclusive procurement.

‘’We believe that supplier diversity is an economic and moral imperative. Innovation comes from a diversity of perspectives, so when we limit who can contribute, we in turn limit what problems we can solve. The calibre of the finalists this year was incredibly high and I am sure we will be hearing about all of them in the very near future but for the judges this year, Polipop was the outstanding business, along with the runners up, RAB Microfludics and Twipes.’’

This year’s finalists in full were:

– Polipop. The first safely-flushable and biodegradable sanitary products

– Twipes, which manufactures the world’s only truly flushable wipes

– RAB-Microfluidics, the company which downscales whole laboratory protocols onto a glass microchip

– ThingTtrax, which specialises in Internet of Things manufacturing machines and brings disconnected machines online

– Hello Daisy Life, which provides set top boxes and networks for the elderly

– The Cheeky Panda, which connects carbon neutral, ultra-sensitive healthy bamboo tissue products

– Medixus, a company which connects healthcare workers across Africa

– Zingr, which provides financial inclusion for the unbanked and underbanked in developing countries;

– Audiowings, the specialist in smart headphones for workouts

– Envirup, a company which provides insulated sidings systems for difficult-to-insulate homes

– Mother Nature’s making refreshing drinks that are inspired by flavours from a diverse range of cultures


press release by: