Olivia Ayorinde John, Founder of Speaking 2 Empower
A global dimension:
I was born in Sierra Leone, in West Africa, and was brought up in Paris, France. I had the privilege of growing up in a multicultural environment as part of an international school where both English and French were taught and where I also studied Spanish. This exposure has given me an open mind and a capacity to learn new languages and connect with people from a variety of backgrounds.
From job to business:
After studying business management and economics in Paris, up to Masters Level, I worked as a management consultant with one of the world’s biggest Technology and Management Services companies, Accenture. I started working in the Paris office and subsequently moved to the London office. Most of my working career was spent at Accenture, and I then moved on to become self-employed, delivering business change and project management consulting directly to companies such as Barclays, the Financial Conduct Authority and News UK.
Networking for purpose:
Academia and business management experiences have been key enablers for me to have a good understanding of the dynamics which impact society, organisations and individuals. I have leveraged business networking in order to meet like-minded people. It has been an opportunity to grow my knowledge and exposure. It has led me to feature on a radio show as well as benefit from the skills necessary to design my Speaking2Empower website and my Youtube channel.
Change for fulfilment:
I have experienced a lot of change in my life and career – moving from Africa to Europe, from France to the UK, from being a permanent employee to a business owner, from being single to being married with children. Throughout this journey it has been a case of keep moving or sink. I am now involved in a new adventure to be recognised globally as a public and empowerment speaker.
I am targeting the world and Africa in particular as I believe that a multiplicity of audiences can benefit from what I have to say. There are many opportunities for Africa to grow and tap into its resources whether natural or technological. Since starting an MA in African Studies and Economic Development at SOAS in London, I have been convinced that a new Eldorado is opening for the ambitious and dynamic on the continent. These opportunities can also be enhanced by its cooperation with those Africans who no longer live in the continent but who maintain close ties with their nations of origin.
Working for the future:
The youth are a critical piece of the development jigsaw. In December I will be flying to South Africa where I have been invited by Junior Achievements (JA) Africa to be a judge on the JA Company of the year competition. I am keen to understand what can be done in order to support Africa’s economic development and what the diaspora is already doing and what more it can do.
Olivia has been a project and change management consultant for almost 20 years. She now shares her experience and expertise as an empowerment speaker to empower people at all levels to pursue their dreams.
Rumbi Makanga, Founder of The 1980 Alliance, UK & Zimbabwe
In December 2013, I was a fresh young undergraduate, pondering my connection to my homeland, Zimbabwe, and feeling frustrated at the level of hopelessness that I was observing among young people. I remember wishing that there were more creative and constructive outlets for the myriad feelings that young people had: the frustrations about their situations, fearfulness about the future, anger at the state of affairs and a simmering, quiet conviction that we, the youth, were the best hope our country had for turning the corner.
I founded The 1980 Alliance, a youth network and platform. The name was the result of coming to a dead end in my creative thinking, so I went for something straightforward; at the time of our launch, our target group was people who were born in 1980 and afterwards. And thus, The 1980 Alliance was born.
In December 2016, I feel it more keenly than ever - we, the youth, are the best hope our country has for turning the corner. Much has improved over the last three years, but unfortunately many of those positive developments, including a growing and thriving youth scene across a wide range of fields, will be overshadowed by political and economic failings in our country. There is a profound political crisis, as there always has been, and there is a deepening economic crisis. There are severe cash shortages, many young people are still unemployed and underemployed, industry has all but collapsed, our government is broke and the future is very uncertain.
But in my now three years as a budding youth activist and leader, I have discovered much about myself, about others, and about what is required to enact change. Then, I was hopeful and naive. Now, I am mostly hopeful and somewhat more grounded, realistic and practical. But there are some significant things that I would like to note, for myself and for others:
1. Don’t focus too closely on chasing your dreams.
When I finished high school, I went to university intent on becoming a development practitioner. My dream was to work in the World Bank or the UN and create policies that would impact millions of people around the globe. I wanted to eradicate poverty, cure diseases, and do a job that I felt was helping people, and making a difference.
I never, ever considered, let alone dreamed, of being a youth activist. I never thought I’d found and be leading a youth organisation at the age of 22. The point is to say that sometimes your dreams find you, and if you approach life with too narrow a focus, you could miss out on some amazing opportunities. I’ve learned to be flexible in that regard, and I fully accept and embrace the fact that in 10 years I might be doing something completely different.
2. Hope is not enough.
As I said before, I was woefully naive when I set up The 1980 Alliance in January 2015. And I was buoyed by the things that young people were saying when they reached out to us. They were so glad we existed, they loved what we were doing, and they were so excited for what the future held.
But hope is not enough, and neither is having fans. In truth, I knew this then. I was, after all, a strategy consultant. But it’s taken me far too long to formalise our processes and create an organisation that is as professional as it is creative, and energetic and flexible. This means accepting my limitations as a leader, as a worker and as a human being, and finding ways to plug the gaps. It also means committing a lot of time to learning and growing and improving myself, so that that can be reflected in the organisation.
3. Surround yourself with good people.
This is something I have done since the beginning, but I cannot overstate the importance of it. I came across Secret Birds because a friend posted about it on Facebook, and I looked it up and decided to get in touch. That was over a year ago, and I am so glad I did. Jo-Ann has become a great source of hard truths and a great motivator. She was giving me tips on monetising before I felt that we were ready, showing me the valuable resources I had before even I could recognise their value, and showing me all the ways in which I was a good leader when I was doubting myself.
In 2017, I fully intend to continue to expand my network and deepen my relationships with people that inspire, empower and educate me, at the same time as I grow an institution that seeks to do the same for Zimbabwean youth.
I am still passionate, and I believe the work we are doing is worthwhile. But that is not to say it is not challenging. This project has pushed me to be better in all ways, and has driven me to learn new skills that I never really wanted to have, like social media management and marketing.
I am still learning, however, what it means to be a leader, and a human being, and I am incredibly grateful to be doing so in this encouraging community.
Rumbi Makanga is a Zimbabwean youth activist and writer. She founded The 1980 Alliance in 2015 and manages an international team working to inspire, empower and educate young Zimbabweans. Her writing has featured in Munyori Literary Journal, Afropean, Black Girl Magic Lit Mag and Expound Magazine.
Ashanti Bentil-Dhue, Founder of FoodPreneur Collective, London, UK
11 months ago, all I had was Linkedin, a dream and free WiFi. Linkedin was the only ‘social’ media I had. I have never been one for social media, so I had no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram presence. My daily commute was 6 hours and with no reception for 4 of those 6 hours all I could do was plot how to escape the 9-5! Due to the number of hours I spent travelling. I regularly used all of my data allowance which meant I had to look for free WiFi wherever possible. (If you’d like to know exactly where and what foot to stand on to get free WiFi between Bank and Milton Keynes, UK – drop me a line). I have always love food and business. So naturally my dream was to launch a food business. How difficult could it be? Quite often I could be seen standing somewhere obscure just to get that WiFi signal to finish reading an article on how to start a food business. In fact I spent all of my spare time researching and reading up on routes to market, margins and marketing. The problem was that much of the information was outdated (literally), not specific to the UK and rather generic.
I still had questions and I needed help.
So I booked and paid for a couple of workshops and courses to learn exactly what I needed to do to make my dream a reality. Unfortunately my experiences were poor. Most of the workshops finished earlier than advertised, consisted of copied and pasted information from Google (yes I am serious), were poorly organised and overpriced. I couldn’t ask all of my questions either which was not helpful. I knew there was a better way of meeting the right people, finding the right information and saving money in order to launch a food business. I have now created the ‘better way’ I wish I had 11 months ago. I can sincerely say that with confidence. And I can tell you why. I have now met and learnt from some of the best food entrepreneurs and hospitality professionals in the industry. They agree with me. Benefit from the lessons I learned the hard way and Launch a Food Business in 2017. I can give you 5 out of the gazillion reasons why this is a better way right now:
1. Real, yes real entrepreneurs with real food business experience share their knowledge and advice.
2. A free workbook is provided to help you structure your plans, ideas and takeaways from the day.
3. There is a scheduled Q & A session and full access to a food entrepreneur for the whole masterclass.
4. You find out which networks and groups to join to meet both new and experienced entrepreneurs to share your journey with.
5. No jargon, no selling, no secrets. Just plain, straightforward and up to date guidance.
You don’t have to take my word for it though. You can read what previous attendees thought here.
Real people just like you have started a food business since the last masterclass with confidence and direction! The ‘How to Launch Your Food Business in 2017’ masterclass is back – bigger and better on 28 January 2017. And this time its on a Saturday! These days I have a 20 minute commute. Although my regular spot is now Costa, I still feel that zing of energy when my WiFi kicks in. I spend my time finding and creating the best resources and tools for new food entrepreneurs just like me. I no longer have to rely on Linkedin to meet people in the industry. Now there is a network of entrepreneurs in the food and drink industry we can all tap into.
Learn from my mistakes by learning from the best in the industry.
Save yourself time, money, and confusion. Get your food business dream started in 2017 and CLICK HERE. To hear more about where to get free WiFi anywhere in London or to find out exactly how much money I wasted trying to start a food business, you can find me in our new FACEBOOK GROUP. It’s free and I’m always hanging out in there.
Founder, Ashanti Bentil Dhue recently left a successful career as a Regulatory Compliance Consultant in Banking to build and grow a global network for women in food and drink. Ashanti firmly believes current media coverage of the contribution women make to the food and drink industry is narrow in its perspective. Her mission is to equalize access to tools, resources and investment for women and highlight the diversity of roles held by women in this sector.
Why I Created A Self-Love Community For Women (and how you can start learning to love yourself better too)
Lanise James, Founder of Self Love Community, Michigan, USA
My Self-Love Story:
Do you ever feel like you are not enough? Perhaps you feel like that you have to do anything and everything for others to love you—even like you. I was this person for most of my life. During my childhood, I always wanted to fit in with others. And as a young adult, I spent many years in unhealthy and toxic relationships. It wasn’t until recently (2 years ago to be exact) that I finally knew it was time to start learning how to love myself better!
When I first started my self-love journey, I didn’t even know what self-love was! I couldn’t give you a working definition of the word. Self-Love was like a foreign idea to me. I knew how to give love to others, that came quite natural to me. Yet, what was all this talk about “self-love”?
Ironically, self-love would become an act of personal freedom; bringing hope and promise of a new future for my life!
So, what is self-love? Self-love is not being “self-centered” or selfish—there’s a difference. Self-Love is the practice by which one’s actions are directed to the promotion of one’s own welfare or well-being while still respecting others well-being.
SelfLove - A Community is Born:
“The only person who can change your life is the one looking back at you.” - Loveselfme
I was on my morning walk—a beautiful sunny day in the fall of 2014. I was unemployed and feeling very frustrated with the current state of my life. Enjoying the sunshine and pondering my next move. I said aloud (in a loving whisper) to myself,“I want to start loving myself.” I would like to think it was divine inspiration—at least that’s what I’ve been telling people. :-)
I continued on my walk to my local Starbucks and created a Twitter Page. My plan was to share Tweets about my self-love journey and to have a way to track my progress. I initially wanted a twitter name using the word self-love. However, I discovered that there were many other women already online sharing the art of self-love (this would prove to be very helpful to me later). Many of the users names using self-love were sadly taken! So, with a little play on words I created the user name (loveselfme). I really didn’t like this name at first. Yet, I have grown to Love it! It really speaks to my heart—Loveselfme!
Now, back to what I was saying about the many women, experts and coaching that were already on twitter sharing great self-love inspiration. I was so inspire to learn more about how to start my self-love journey. I retweeted…and retweeted all that inspired me. Posts, content and photos…if it inspired me, I shared it on my timeline! Eventually, most of my tweets were less about me and more about sharing awesome self-love inspiration for other women to enjoy!
I had another great idea (divine inspiration at work again)! I realize that there was a need for many Women (just like myself) to learn how to start loving themselves as well. What better way for women to learn self-love than with the support of a community to help them thrive and grow. In turn, I quickly changed the name to SelfLove - A Community (SLC)! Creating a self-love tribe for Women!
The Future Of Self-Love - A Community (SLC):
“Learning to Love Yourself Never Felt Better.” - Loveselfme
This self-love community has been a source of inspiration and guidance for me! My self-love journey is not perfect, and sometimes I don’t always make the best decisions for myself. Yet, I still celebrate myself because I’ve made a choice to start—and continue my journey!
Where will my self-love journey end? I’m learning that it’s a continuos perfecting process. There will always be a need for me to practice self-love—everyday! I have accepted my own personal self-love journey as a never-ending love story—with SLC growing and inspiring more…and more women to do the same!
How To Start Loving Yourself Better:
“To Love Others, You Must Love Yourself First.” - Loveselfme
Learning to love yourself is going to be your biggest accomplishment in life. It’s what I believe is the key that will unlock the doors to all other Happiness in your life. Here’s 3 ways you can start learning to love yourself better today!
About Lanise James
Lanise is a teacher, writer and self-love advocate from Michigan (USA). She loves encouraging and inspiring others. She created a self-love community for women to help them learn to love themselves mentally, spiritually and physically. This month The #Loveselfme tribe is celebrating its 2nd year of self-love service for women! They are all so excited!
Hillary Strobel, Founder of The Flyways, Los Angeles, California, USA
Once upon a time, there was a little girl who was obsessed with literature. She read so much that her kindergarten teacher put her into advanced reading classes. Her book collection began to take over her shelves at home so that she needed new ones all the time.
About the time that this little girl was 9, she witnessed a boy her age being cruel to another little girl. “Why,” the little girl thought, “did this boy have to target this girl? She goes home crying every day and the adults punish him and yet he does not stop.” This haunted the little girl for many years, until she was able to go out into the world on her own and discovered the reasons behind injustice.
In the meantime, the little girl never stopped reading books and writing stories. Her love for them had grown and grown along with her bookshelves and her education. She began to realize that stories can help people to develop empathy and broaden their horizons as they dip into worlds beyond their own. “What if the story itself could actually make the world better? What if the story could help people to heal themselves personally while making it possible to contribute materially to others?” thought the little girl, who was by now a grown up woman.
This is how The Flyways was born.
My name is Hillary Strobel, and I am that little girl. My social impact publishing company is called The Flyways. Over many years, I’ve been driven by a passion for storytelling- for me, there is nothing that quite compares to the smell of a new book or the feeling of being transported into another story world- along with a twin drive for social justice. As a child, I was highly sensitive to others’ problems, like the boy in my class who picked on the girl, because he was white and she was Korean and he believed that made it okay. I found an escape and a solution in stories, as they really do help the consumer develop empathy and understanding, and they really do have the power to change the world.
I always meant to go into publishing, and I am so blessed to live in a day and age where it is possible to run it as a virtual company, as well structure it as a Social Business. I can positively touch the life of someone I’ve never laid eyes on, and they can in turn touch the lives of people they have never seen either. It’s the most exciting kind of Virtuous Cycle I can imagine, and it’s all predicated on telling a good story. On top of that, our stories are collaboratively created through many different mediums, so that they are full and rich with life, making them all the more effective.
Over the years, as I’ve learned to harness the power of virtual communications, I’ve also become deeply aware of Social Businesses and what kind of impact they can have on our world. They are financially viable, of course, and they are also able to operate with the mission of a non-profit agency or NGO, allowing the leaders of these businesses to sustain their product on the market while remaining dyed-in-the-wool “do-gooders.” This is, for me, manna from heaven. It’s being able to put food on the table while feeding my soul too (and the souls of everyone my company touches).
There are many different permutations for Social Businesses in the world today. In the United States, we have a new-ish federal tax designation known as a Benefit Corporation; this is the business structure that The Flyways follows. We operate like any other corporation for tax purposes, but we are also required to report our social impact efforts to a third-party certifying body every year. Doing so allows us to demonstrate our positive work to the world with high transparency. Every Benefit Corporation is allowed to develop its own personal vision of what Social Impact means. For The Flyways, it’s donating 25% of all company profits to social justice efforts around the world. In 2016, we will have financially supported entrepreneurship for formerly abused and trafficked women, prison reform, and positive body image.
The Social Business infrastructure, to my mind, is incredibly valuable as a bridge between those systems that tend to cause social justice problems and those solutions that can’t quite stretch to an effective outcome. On top of that, The Flyways uses stories to make that happen. Stories, by the very virtue of their existence, give us humanity; building and distributing stories in the manner that we do allows us to give humanity a real moral compass for “doing better.”
I am that little girl who grew up to create a new way of telling stories and using the story words within them as a tool for improving the real world around us. I encourage you to join us on this adventure through our hearts and minds by visiting our website, subscribing to our stories, and following us on social media for more information about upcoming projects:
Join The Flyways’ mailing list on our website for our newsletter full of special offers, upcoming story projects, and opportunities for partnership.
Hillary is a content single mother, fierce learner and teacher, ardent lover of life, and President/CEO of a Social Enterprise, The Flyways, Inc. After a long and varied career in just about every kind of Liberal Arts field imaginable, and in every type of job position- volunteer, employee, entrepreneur, non-profit worker, and freelancer- she decided to put her money where her mouth is and marry her two deepest passions: storytelling and social justice. The results have surpassed her wildest expectations. She also coaches businesses and organizations to meaningfully build their social impact programs from the ground up. Hillary is a graduate of San Francisco State University having obtained a BA and MA in interdisciplinary studies. She also received an MBA from the No-Pay-MBA with a focus on social impact and innovation.
Sophie Kruijsdijk Founder of Life Coach Sophie, Florence, Italy
Why did I start my business? Because I could not not start it. Just like I could not not move to Italy. Just like I could not not leave my relationships of respectively six and five years.
When I set my mind on something and my gut tells me it’s right, I go for it. And it always turns out fine – much better than I expected actually. And that is exactly what I want to help other women with as well. To follow their intuition, to find what sets their soul on fire and then take the leap towards making their dreams happen.
I have experienced that when you really do what you desire, you can actually heal yourself. I have overcome anxiety disorder by following my dream of moving to Italy. I felt so fulfilled by it, that I could stop taking anti-depressants and haven’t had any mind-crippling anxiety ever since. I have gone from being a highly sensitive person to being a thrill-seeker when I finally let go of what was weighing me down. And so by listening to myself, by being true to myself, I cured myself. Now, that is pretty powerful.
I truly believe that when you do what you were meant to do, when you step into your power, you contribute to the world in an extremely meaningful way. And I believe that my purpose is to guide women towards finding their own strength, letting their light shine and blowing the bloody roof off in their own, unique way.
When I sat down on the couch with my mum at Christmas about one and a half years ago, I was telling her about how I wasn’t satisfied with my job of that time. How I felt that it wasn’t fulfilling and that it was actually draining me. I had only switched careers a little over a year earlier and so I felt a bit embarrassed by how this whole adventure had turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. But looking back, this moment of crisis allowed for the real questions to come to the surface again: what is it that you really want to do? What do you care about most? What lights you up even in the darkest moments? Personal development.
Ever since I was little, I have been fascinated by life and why we are here. I remember writing deep poetry at primary school, wandering around the playground by myself wondering about the purpose of life and feeling the need for a deep soul connection with the people around me. I always felt like the odd one out, as if I was the only one who would question things that went beyond whose turn it was to hide or seek.
I was seeking answers to questions that were constantly circling around in my head. I was continuously daydreaming, floating off to different worlds, being touched deeply by the music that my parents would play while driving us around. I felt so connected to the world in spirit and in sense that working with people was the logical thing to do.
At secondary school I discovered that I wanted to teach. I was fascinated by my own age group and I always felt that my natural leadership could be a way to guide them in their development towards becoming themselves. I became an English teacher and worked at a secondary school for three years. Then I came to a point where I felt an itch, a need for change. A break up led to a point in which anything was possible and I decided to follow my heart’s desire to move to Italy and teach English there.
After some years of living my dream and enjoying my new Italian life, the itch came up again. The teaching had become monotonous, predictable and boring. And once I get bored my innate need for fireworks comes back to life. So, I chased another dream of mine: becoming a writer.
I wrote for the biggest Dutch blog on Italy, which was fun, exciting and provided me with a new challenge. I dove in completely and went for it for a 100%, but then, after a while, I realised that the soul connection that I always needed so much was missing. Most of the time it would just be my PC and me, with no interaction whatsoever and I felt like a flower without sunshine. I was literally wilting away. That’s how I came to that point where I found myself sitting on my mum’s couch at Christmas one and a half years ago.
She asked me: ’Why don’t you do something with your passion for personal development? I mean, you’ve been practising mindfulness for ages, you’re always reading about how to improve your life and you have a natural gift for guiding people. Why not become a life coach?’
It was as if my body had caught fire; I was burning all over. I had never felt anything like it before and I knew it was a sign. A sign that my soul had just been set on fire. Since my mum is a coach as well, she guided me through a visualisation exercise and I saw myself sitting in a circle of women on a stretch of grass, talking with them about life. I was leading a retreat, I was inspiring and empowering these women and I saw that this was my purpose. And so I decided that I was going to become a life coach.
I did a course of Acceptance and Commitment Training in Holland and followed an ICF accredited coaching course in Rome. I chose to focus on women because I realised that we as women are so powerful, but very often feel held back by fear and self-doubt. I thought: just imagine what would happen if those limiting factors weren’t an issue anymore. Imagine that all women regained their power and stepped into their true purpose. Imagine that all women let their beautiful, natural lights shine and lit up the world.
Now that would mean real fireworks.
I feel I’m here to help ignite those fireworks by leading by example and coaching women towards becoming real power babes. Being able to do this feels like a true honour and I often feel moved after yet another ground-breaking session. Thanks to my unique six-step coaching programme Take the Leap I help women choose themselves and chase their dreams. I help them deal with fear and negative thoughts effectively and give them tools to tap into their strengths. Thanks to my coaching, my clients feel confident, empowered and finally free to step up their game and take the leap towards their personal dreams. And, as you can imagine, they create mind-blowing fireworks in the process.
About Sophie Kruijsdijk
Sophie Kruijsdijk has a global, online coaching business in which she helps women choose themselves and chase their dreams with her six-step coaching programme Take the Leap. Go to her website to get her free mini guide Move from Fear to Freedom and to book your first free consult: http://lifecoachsophie.com
Philippa Main, Founder and CEO of Oscar & Owl, London, U.K.
Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb, defined the sharing economy as “commerce with the promise of human connection”. Within these transactions “people share a part of themselves” and in doing so transform a previously cold consumer-provider relationship into something deeply personal.
For me, this is a beautiful symbiosis; the idea that through a community both social and financial benefits can be attained. For Airbnb it’s about connecting holidaymakers to hosts; for Deliveroo it’s about connecting hungry people to tasty takeaway; and for my company, Oscar & Owl, it’s about connecting local parents to local babysitters.
Companies like Airbnb and Deliveroo are fueled by trust. Hosts trust that their guests will respect their most intimate spaces. Couples on a Saturday night will trust that the ‘Indian Express’ will be as authentic as its 4 ½ star rating suggests.
However, child care requires a whole other level of assurance. For Gebbia “the only thing more personal than your phone is your home”, but at Oscar & Owl we know that the only thing more personal than your home, are your children.
For some, this makes it a very scary market to enter. But this fact does not make childcare void of problems or inefficiencies, something I discovered during my +10 years of babysitting. And like any good entrepreneur, when you see a problem you really care about, you have to try and fix it.
MY STORY: FROM BABYSITTER TO ENTREPRENEUR
I started babysitting when I was 13yrs old for family friends and local neighbours. As mum's chatted in the school courtyards and passed on the word, I built up relationships with over 20 lovely local families. At school, on particularly busy nights I would have 5+ requests. I would connect families to my sisters and my friends from school to help fill in. This was my first mini business, though I never took a cut. I simply enjoyed helping my friends earn some extra cash and my parents with their Friday night freedom.
In 2012 I went to Nottingham University. After building such a budding community in London, I had to start from scratch. I signed up my profile to a couple of babysitting sites, and… not a single hit. I found this incredibly frustrating, given my years of experience. It also got me thinking, what if there was one centralised place where babysitters could store all their recommendations?
It was at University that I became an avid member of the Entrepreneurs Society, where I was Vice President, and had my first introduction to my new love - tech. I went to hackathons, pitches, and spent hours creating and pulling apart ideas.
Fast forward through two years of the tech start-up life, and the babysitting issue was still on my mind. At the start of 2016 I gave up my freelance work to set up a childcare agency. I wanted to see what it was all about. I hired babysitters with DBS checked & First Aid Trained. I did reference checks, conducted interviews - the works. But I still kept having the questions - “Do you know them personally?” If I did, the comfort in the parent's voice and the likelihood of them booking shot through the roof.
For parents, their little ones are the most precious in the whole world. The parents I spoke to found it particularly hard to leave their child with carers, even from official agencies. But without it, they put their social life in jeopardy. One dad told me “you have to just trust whoever’s behind the door and leave your children with a total stranger. It was a nerve wracking necessity on the path back to having an evening off!”
All of a sudden, everything seemed to click into place for that light-bulb moment; parents need a word-of-mouth babysitter search.
And from this epiphany, Oscar & Owl was born.
About Philippa Main
Philippa Main is a young and ambitious entrepreneur, whose passion for childcare and her local community inspired her to found Oscar & Owl. During her 10 years of experience in the sector, Philippa witnessed many parents struggling to find reliable local babysitters; although many sitters were available to assist. She designed Oscar & Owl to connect this community, build local relationships and provide quality childcare for busy families.
Philippa has a wide range of entrepreneurial experience. Whilst studying for her BA in Economics and Philosophy from the University of Nottingham, she was the Vice President of the Nottingham Entrepreneurs society. She was also an Ambassador for The European Innovation Academy, the 2014 winner of the European Youth Awards and more recently managed the development of a healthtec app “Digital Clipboard”.
Oscar & Owl will launch later this summer. Support them now by registering your interest.
To follow on Twitter: @OscarAndOwl
To like on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oscarandowl/
Marian Karina Nanorki Darlington, Founder, Reproductive Justice Agenda, Ghana
“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body.”- Margaret Sanger
All through my years in school especially in the university and through my
association with friends and colleagues, I came to the realisation that, in Ghana,
there was little or no information out there on reproductive health, rights or access to
contraceptives. I was particularly surprised to learn that many people, though
sexually active had little or no knowledge on their options when it came to protection.
Condoms were the most common but even with those, not many people were
courageous enough to walk into a pharmacy to purchase some.
Culture and tradition in Ghana have made the subject of sex a sacred issue such
that parents are not ready to discuss it with their children. Peers who even talk about
it are seen as promiscuous and therefore “bad friends”. Even the media projects the
subject of sex in a negative manner. In effect, there was little or no discussion on sex
or reproductive rights in the country where I come from. The irony however is that
many of the young people in Ghana are sexually active despite that.
1. Young people in junior and senior high schools are sexually active despite the
fact that the main advocacy they receive in this area is on abstinence. Young
people in junior and senior high schools are advised to abstain from sex in
order to focus on their studies and to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.
This leaves them with little or no information on how to protect themselves or
even what to do in that regard. They do not talk about it because of the stigma
that will be attached to them for being the ones who are ‘having sex’ amongst
2. One may think that at the university or college level and with that level of
education, people would know what their reproductive rights and options
were. I however find this is not the case. A lot of people at the universities,
colleges, other tertiary or higher institutions do not have enough information in
this regard and yet are very sexually active. Most people here depend on
either the condom or the emergency contraceptive (morning after pill, which is
not to be used as regular contraceptive method) for protection.
3. How about the high number of uneducated people or those not in schools?
How do they get information on their sexual or reproductive health and rights?
4. The issue of abortion. This is a very sensitive issue in Ghana. The issue of its
legality, the moral issue of right and wrong and the religious issue make
abortion a really sensitive area in Ghana despite the increasing rates
recorded. (To be clear, the Ghanaian law makes provision for abortion
services to be carried out by licenced professionals, at licenced centres and
under specified conditions.)
Teenage pregnancy, abortions, school dropouts, increase in poverty, child
marriages, forced marriage, gender based violence, etc
This was my inspiration for starting Reproductive Justice Agenda (RJA). It was about
time information and education was made available to the people. RJA is led by a
group of vibrant young women and men (from various fields of study and profession)
who are passionate about seeking the improvement in reproductive health and
rights. Our work is carried out in various areas of the country; junior high schools,
senior high schools, universities, communities and social media.
The goal of RJA is to provide accurate information and education on sexual health,
contraceptive methods and choices and to provide affordable (if not free) access to
them. This we do through reproductive health campaigns that we carry out in various
schools and communities, screening on many reproductive health related issues,
provision of contraceptives to members of the community and forming RJA clubs
where we groom members and equip them with the necessary skills to carry out
reproductive health and rights education elsewhere. We have also found that social
media is a very powerful tool one can use in the area of education and so we
regularly feed our Facebook and Twitter pages with educative information on
There is more to be done in the area of reproductive health and rights. The team
comes up with many fun, interesting and educative ways to involve young people in
active advocacy and campaigns. The vision is to engage in multi-pronged work that
includes advocacy, research projects, partnership with established advocacy groups,
conferences and meetings, dissemination of findings and analysis related to sexual
rights and reproductive justice through publication and reforming maternal healthcare
in Ghana. This we have started; reaching out, one person at a time.
My name is Marian Karina Nanorki Darlington. I am Ghanaian and I live in Ghana. I obtained my law degree (LL. B) from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana. I am currently pursuing my Barrister at Law programme at the Ghana School of Law.
I am passionate about women empowerment and a stern advocate for women and children's rights. I believe that women make great leaders no matter what community they come from. In Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey's words: "If you educate a man, you educate an individual but if you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation." I am strongly motivated towards creating opportunities for women to enable them being out the best in them to improve, first upon themselves and then their communities in order to make the world a better place.
I have worked in many areas and with many organisations that promote the well being of women and the girl child. I am Founder and Executive Director of Reproductive Justice Agenda, an NGO with the goal of improving and advancing reproductive health and rights in Ghana. I am also the Programme's Director of League of Young Female Leaders, also an NGO aimed at improving the social status of women and girls in Ghana. I am a Global Champion for Women's Economic Empowerment at Empower Women, a UN Women branch.