Joel Blake OBE

Blake Joel photo

"Without collaboration, financial inclusion means nothing.

Together, it changes everything."

Trusted by leading organisations

Blake Joel photo

About Joel

Joel is a well-respected business leader, entrepreneur, and advisor who helps finance providers and professional service firms develop and deliver more inclusive access to finance models and solutions.

With over two decades of experience, he has established himself as a passionate advocate for inclusivity, seeking to maximise potential and drive positive change for all.

His approach to business is characterised by authenticity, inspiration, and a grounding in practicality, and his drive to help others succeed has earned him a reputation as a highly sought-after speaker, consultant and trusted advisor.

He uniquely balances executive level expertise with real societal impact

Joel is a highly accomplished business leader, entrepreneur, public speaker, and corporate advisor, with over two decades of experience.

Joel turns inclusivity into a practical, sustainable-driven approach to help organisations improve both commercial and social returns.

Blake Joel photo

He began his professional journey at the age of 16, working in local and office junior roles. At 18, he secured a role as a Marketing Assistant for a FTSE 500 company with no prior marketing experience. This sparked his passion of inclusion within traditional sectors and markets.

Aged 21, he took on a role working for the UK's leading employability service, where he designed and delivered an executive CSR mentoring program for 250 cross sector business leaders. He went on to establish an international diversity consulting service, co-founded The Midlands CSR Summit (an annual business summit that connected CSR leaders across the private, public and voluntary sectors together every year), and later spent three years within sport, as the UK Inclusion Lead for England Golf.

In his pursuit of entrepreneurship, Joel has led various business ventures with many lessons learnt. In 2012, Joel co-founded a commercial lending brokerage firm that funded the start of over 700 businesses, as a partner in a £200 million UK SME financing program, before transitioning into the world of FinTech.

In recognition of his business achievements and contributions to society, Joel was awarded an OBE for Services to Business Support and Enterprise in 2016.


Joel is widely recognized as one of the leading financial technology entrepreneurs in the UK, having been selected as one of the leading black voices in UK tech in 2019. His own fintech startup business GFA Exchange was voted Fintech of the Year in 2022, and he has been a keynote speaker at prestigious national and international events, including the Abu Dhabi Global Market Fintech Festival.

In 2022, he also founded the Financial Inclusion Network CIC, a not-for-profit industry think-tank focused on improving financial inclusion within the banking and SME finance markets, and also hosts The Joel Blake Business Show on a leading online business channel.

Joel is also Chair of Employability UK, an established UK charity that was awarded the prestigious Queen's Award for Voluntary Service in 2021 and is a Trustee of B: Music (music charity responsible for Birmingham Symphony Hall and Town Hall).


- Top 50 Tech Disruptor (Midlands) - Business Desk 2023
- Fintech of the Year - BTA Awards 2022
- Inno50 Business of the Year - Mills & Reeves 2019
- Entrepreneur Ecosystem Development Award - E2E Exchange 2019
- Entrepreneur of the Year - Phoenix Media Awards 2017
- Local Leaders Award - Future Leaders Club 2016
- OBE - Services to Business Support and Enterprise 2016
- Winner - Top 100 UK Entrepreneurs - Maserati 100 2015
- Birmingham Young Professional Year for Recruitment & Training - BYPY 2010
- Finalist, 02 X Award Male Entrepreneur of the Year 2009
- Finalist, Young Entrepreneur of the Year - Black Enterprise Awards 2007
- Finalist, Birmingham Young Professional of the Year - BYPY 2006

Judging - Joel is regularly asked to judge a number of business awards.

Some of these include:

- Great British Entrepreneur Awards
- EY Entrepreneur of the Year
- Business Book Awards
- Business Leader Go: Tech Awards
- Women in IT Awards UK
- Business Cloud EnviroTech 50 Awards

Blake Joel photo

Joel is the Founder & CEO of The GFA Exchange

An AI-powered client risk management technology solution, that helps banks and finance providers  identify which businesses are most likely to grow, with less risk and cost.

Voted Fintech Year of the Year 2022, and Top 50 Tech Disruptor in 2023, the start up is focused on make access to finance more inclusive, to improve financial inclusion for underestimated SMEs.

To learn more or to book your free demo, click here

If you are looking for an authentic, personable, inspiring leader...

To help you improve financial inclusion as part of your finance, ESG and business support practices, then contact Joel today!

Blake Joel photo