32 years of Kent B2B Ashford

April 25, 2018

Every year we put on and organise in excess of a 100 events, training sessions and workshops to support our members and the wider business community across the County. We are always focused on ways of giving businesses access to new enterprise opportunities and encourage collaboration with the county, and course, continually looking at new ways to support business.

It’s one thing to look at new initiatives but it’s important that organisation with such heritage as the Kent Invicta Chamber, which has been in existence since 1900, doesn’t lose sight of established initiatives that with some tweaks can be as relevant today as they were many years ago.  This is never more true, than talking about our Business to Business Exhibitions.  It was 32 years ago that we first staged our first Business Exhibition in Ashford and I am proud to have been involved organising 29 of them.  Mind you, where the time has gone, I will never know….

The first event in 1986 was held in a small room in the town centre, with a few local businesses showing off their wares.  A bit like the Chamber of this period, the event has grown out of all recognition and is now a real showcase for business and more importantly, ‘a great business day out’.

I’ve seen first hand how over the years this event has transformed. The programme for Kent B2B Ashford is always shaped by feedback and current trends affecting Kent’s business environment and the B2B climate in general. It’s gone from an informal business meet up, to a must-attend show that combines networking, keynotes, knowledge-sharing and a place to celebrate Kent.

Over the years we’ve had some memorable speakers from the Dragons’ Den Reggae Reggae sauce entrepreneur Levi Roots to Paralympian Steve Brown, both of which received rave reviews.

Although we’ve raised the bar with speakers and activities, what’s always remained is a focus on making sure it’s a place to network and make new connections. Activities such as the business breakfast and my chief exec reception are staples that provide natural settings for networking.

We always look for the most inspiring voices in Kent to speak and this year I’m thrilled that Kent-born Winter Paralympian and Downhill World Champion Millie Knight is joining us. Earlier this year Millie was competing in Sochi 2018, returning with two silvers and a bronze. I know our business audience will value hearing Millie’s story – one of drive, determination and adaptability. We can all learn a lot from 19-year old Millie, who was the youngest ever athlete to compete for team GB.

After a fantastic reception at out 2017 Medway show, we’ve invited Luke Quilter and his Giant Campus experts back to share digital marketing insights. Everyone, including the chamber, are using social media on daily basis for business, these sessions will show how we can all be using our time wiser when it comes to social media.

Over the years we’re joined by a mix of long-standing exhibitors and delegates (some from the very first year!) and with new faces, showing that the B2B environment in Kent is always growing. Kent B2B Ashford is a perfect place for start ups to get their name out there, so it’s always great to see them benefiting from the platform.

We’ve built up a loyal community and as well as being a place to make business leads, Kent B2B Ashford has become an annual meeting place to catch up and share ideas and support.

I hope you can join us this year and be part of the Kent B2B success story for years to come.


Jo James

Chief Executive of Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce