Record footfall for first-ever Tower Hamlets Community Business Festival

CBF-Cllr Wahid

A 10-day Community Business Festival saw record levels of footfall at Tower Hamlets Town Hall, with 42,057 visits across the duration of the festival, peaking on day three, with 6,918 visits.

The aim of the festival was to celebrate the different traditions and cultures in the borough whilst showcasing some of the best products and services that local businesses have to offer.

On 1 April, the festival launched with prayers from two faith leaders, Imam Sheikh Kazi Ashiqur Rahman and Reverend James Olanipekun (Rabbi Leon Silver sent his apologies), a speech from Cllr Abdul Wahid, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Social Inclusion, spoken word by Queen Mary University students and entertainment from local band, RAAWI, singing traditional Nasheeds.

The festival had activities for all the family including facepainting, balloon modelling, egg hunts, arts and crafts, storytelling, and henna for women and girls.

Of the 100 traders that hosted stalls, over half were Tower Hamlets businesses or residents.

Traders at Whitechapel Market joined in with the festivities and extended their opening hours until 9pm to ensure everyone’s shopping needs were met.

For some of the traders, this was the first time they had been able to host a physical stall for their business.


This was true for Joy Nsoedo, from Joy Fashions, who hosted a stall and said:

“As I informed the Mayor the day he visited my stand, this was a life changing opportunity for me, as I am an over 50, black woman with not enough money to rent a shop.

“This gave me the opportunity to showcase my products in order to see how potential customers could react to it. Importantly, I was able to raise funds from my goods that would not have been possible without the opportunity afforded us within the 10 days we traded.” 

Along with opening the festival, Cllr Abdul Wahid visited the festival on numerous days, he said:

“As much as possible, we want to give small local businesses a platform to shout about the amazing products and services they have. This event served to do just that but also to celebrate the rich and diverse communities we have in the borough.

“I think we achieved our goal and much more. Seeing thousands of people from all backgrounds come together, enjoy each other’s company, and support local business was truly incredible.

“It’s a pleasure to use one of our key assets, the Town Hall, to connect people, and I hope that we can do this on a regular basis. Hearing ideas from local businesses will be the key to making this happen”.

The Council’s High Streets team has a list of over 50 businesses that have registered their interest in future similar events.

On the day, local organisations and a number of Council services also hosted stalls, offering advice and help to residents.

Angela from The Heritage & Arts Centre Bow, a community-led centre, said:

“The experience has been beneficial in terms of referrals from potentially new clients. But it was also great seeing the Town Hall buzzing with business activities, allowing our Centre the opportunity to network with local and regional businesses.

“It was such an invaluable platform for online businesses: the hidden, mainly female-led economy, to trade face to face with new customers.”

Not included in the footfall figures is the number of Council employees that attended the fair and took part in the activities.

As this festival was the first of its kind, the Council is currently evaluating the success of the event and working closely with local businesses and stakeholders to gain their feedback.

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Posted on Friday 24th May 2024