Friday 28 June 2013

2Inspire Profile: Tokie Laotan-Brown - Environment Architectural Technologist/ Principal Curator

In this 2Inspire Profile we meet Tokie Laotan-Brown, a woman with an inspirational story, working in her chosen field and using her purpose in life to drive her towards her success. Her life is an example of someone who proves that all things are possible with passion and hard-work.
Tokie Laotan-Brown
Please tell us what is a typical business day for you? 
I spend most of my day from the moment I wake up, depending on where I am in the world, either contacting my home to find out if my family is up and ready for school, work etc. I then start on projects or visit Architectural offices to consult or work on various projects. I spend the rest of the day making phone calls, (Making sure kids are at home doing homework via Skype) researching old buildings and updating my calendar or finishing up on assignments for my Master’s program. 

What made you start the business and how did you get started?
I am an entrepreneur, writer, leader, mother, wife and mentor: I have always worked around issues that currently affect me, like running for local council in Galway city when I was directly affected by not having a playground close to my home. By returning to college when after sitting in Council as a Housing representative for the community, certain issues around buildings were ignored (hence my Architectural background). My role in co-ordinating the first Ms Ebony in Ireland pageant (Featured on Irish National TV programme: Pobal) etc.  Now my current issue is with the visibility of Black Female Women in Construction and Architecture, which prompted the start of the organization.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
The improvement in visibility of young Black girls in the fashion industry, after the Ebony pageant.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
Juggling family life, my husband’s dialysis and my work.

What are your future plans for the business?
I will like to improve the visibility of women in construction and architecture. I am also working on educating the younger generation on African Architecture and Heritage which is being lost due to the fascination with Western ways of building.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I will do it all in the same way.
Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
There is no limit except limit itself. I think this is the problem young women face these days. They are afraid of not succeeding so they do not try. They become influenced by traditions, by culture, by what they see around them.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
To find a supportive role model either male or female. If you do not succeed the first time, try again. Do not limit yourself to just one thing; be open to new ideas always. Never give up hope, it will eventually happen. Success should not be judged in monetary terms but in the satisfaction derived from it.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
To God, who I owe my life, my husband, who takes life so easily even though he is on dialysis, my kids that enjoy my various adventures through Skype, the girls and friends I mentor 24 hrs a day through crisis, joy and successes. They inspire me always!

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

Contact Details:

Tokie Laotan-Brown

Environment Architectural Technologist/ Principal Curator

Merging Ecologies

21 Gort Mhaoilir,

Raheens, Athenry

Galway County, Ireland

Facebook pages: Black Women in Construction and Architecture

African Vernacular Architecture: Predated to 1980

Tuesday 25 June 2013

2Inspire Business Profile: Sophia A Jackson, Founder of Afridiziak Theatre News

Sophia A Jackson has become synonymous with Africa-Caribbean theatre in the UK, her passion for the theatrical arts has led her to build a brand over the past 5 years that has  become the go-to online resource for African-Caribbean theatre. Read this inspirational interview with Sophia and be encouraged that following your passion can really lead to your dreams coming true!
Sophia A Jackson

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?
A typical day includes liaising with my web developer (and brother, Basil Lumsden) on keeping my site, Afridiziak Theatre News fresh with all the latest news on African-Caribbean theatre. I am the editor and founder of the site and I have a pool of contributors. Updates  include reviews of African-Caribbean plays and interviews with those who work behind the scenes and on the stage.  Afridiziak Theatre News is the only website dedicated to African-Caribbean theatre so we work with clients who want to ensure their audiences are diverse. As we are a digital publication much of my time is spent socialising on Facebook and Twitter, sending out e-newsletters and spreading awareness on the latest productions.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?
I was working at New Nation newspaper as their events listings editor. When the publication went into Administration I saw that as an ideal opportunity to launch a website dedicated to African-Caribbean theatre as it was an area of the arts that I was passionate about. It was also an opportunity to put my skills and experience from gaining a Masters in Journalism to good use. I asked my brother Basil to join me on the journey as he is an excellent web developer and we took it from there.
What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?
In September, Afridiziak Theatre News will be five years old. In that time, the site has flourished and the brand has strengthened.  It’s wonderful seeing the publication and my PR and marketing skills grow.  Deciding to revamp the site’s design in January 2012 made a positive impact on how Afridiziak Theatre News is perceived in the corporate world and this is what we wanted.

Sophia with Whoopi Goldberg
What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?
 At first when Afridiziak Theatre News was launched, we were not taken seriously – press ticket / review requests were ignored or tickets allocated would be in the lap of the Gods. I felt as if we had to earn the respect of the theatre industry which is a lot more elite than I thought before venturing into this area.

What are your future plans for the business?
I plan to hold an event to celebrate the five year anniversary this autumn and I’m also in conversations with peers about collaborative working, too. It’s an exciting time for Afridiziak Theatre News.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I would have a stronger belief in what I could achieve and my business succeeding.
Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?
Not everyone comes from a supportive background so by inspiring the next generation you are giving back to the community and building a strong foundation for the future.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?
Build your contacts, appreciate when people introduce you to their contacts and nurture the contacts that have been with you from the beginning. Also, that it’s all about taking that first bold step and then taking daily steps to get where you want to be.

What or who inspires you in business and why?
 I am inspired by the work ethic of many of my peers who are also my friends – their achievements remind me that I must continue to up my game and that dreams do come true.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?
If your dreams don’t scare you then they are not big enough!

Contact details
Afridiziak Theatre News
Editor/founder:  Sophia A Jackson
Tel: +447855 86 77 78
Follow us on Twitter
Like us on Facebook

2Inspire Funding News: Elevation Networks Launches Start-Up Loans Campaign to fund SMEs and Entrepreneurs

Elevation Networks became an official Delivery Partner for the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills’ Start-Up Loans initiative in early 2013. Over the coming months Elevation Networks will aim to distribute up to £5 million worth of loans to more than 2000 young people that need capital to start or grow a new business. They will be given access to a mentor, monthly training, and a number of other benefits through the initiatives Global Partners (including Ebay and PayPal). The government is aiming to set up 30,000 businesses through a new generation of entrepreneurs between now and 2015, and we hope to grow our provision from 350, to 1000 businesses. Elevation Networks is particularly keen to encourage start-ups from diverse backgrounds and will be celebrating the successes of the start-ups who take part in the initiative.

When Prime Minister David Cameron announced an extension of the Start-Up Loans initiative – to include applicants up to the age of 30 and an extra £30 million – in Preston on 3 January 2013 500 businesses had been accepted for loans.
‘This clearly demonstrates the ambition and drive people in this country have to create a business and I am pleased that Start-Up Loans are helping more and more entrepreneurs who start small but think big transform their ideas into viable, growing businesses.’- Cameron.  The programme is available to anyone between the age of 18 and 30 whose business is in England. Applications have more than doubled in the last month, from 3000 to more than 8,300 in January.

For more information on the Elevation Networks Start-Up Loans Programme contact:
Alexandra Shaw -
Ronke Lawal –

Notes to editor
About the Loan:
·  The average loan amount is £2,500, there is no definite limit and the final amount will be determined by       your business plan.
·  There is an option of a 1 year holiday period before beginning repayment.
·  The total interest for the loan is 3% + RPI.
·  Repayments period can be from 1 to 5 years.
·  The Start-Up loan is a personal loan, which means if 4 or 5 people from the same company apply for a loan, all are eligible for an individual loan up to invest in their business.

Saturday 22 June 2013

2Inspire Funding News: Now a young person could receive a £350 minimum Investment!

26th JUNE, 6pm Sharp
97 Cobbold Road
Willesden, NW10 9SU


If you are in touch with any young people between aged 12 to 19years old (approx) and would like a INVESTMENT of £350 minimum PLUS A MENTOR who will guide and support young people to nurture their Creative (business) idea then please read on!!!!

The Lion's den, a fresh and exciting opportunity for young people. This is a pilot event and your support is needed to make it grow into a mentoring and enterprise scheme that can really engage with the so called "hard to reach and disenfranchised" youths. 

We want to encourage the youth to start their own business, something that is desperately needed!!
If you want more info please visit the events page below!
or what's app 07939 396465
26C4205D (bbm) or email

26th JUNE, 6pm Sharp
97 Cobbold Road
Willesden, NW10 9SU📅📆

Finally please feel free to forward this information onto your contacts who works with young people, IF YOU ARE a young person, enter! Want to know how to, contact me ASAP, limited spaces!
Come and present your idea to our friendly panel who will decide who gets the :-
- £350 minimum
- A Local Community Mentor/Goal Model
- Investment, contacts and links

Bottom line is this, every one wins!!!! Attend to find out what I mean.
Performed in front of a live community audience, to register please visit the events page
Peace and Power
Davis Williams (5ive)
Mind the Gap Community Event (Brent)
Love is Just a Verb
Father Figure
Action in the Community
40+ MSG
Undiluted Expressionz
Omega Radio
Nubia House Radio
(A Partnership event)

Friday 21 June 2013

2Inspire Business Profile: Hannah Oyewole - Business Woman and Author

In yet another inspirational interview we meet Hannah Oyewole, an entrepreneur and author who started the Young Ladies Club as a means of giving young women a platform to motivate and encourage them to live exceptional lives. Hannah is an example of what happens when we believe that nothing is impossible.

Please tell us what is a typical business day for you?

A typical business day for me would consist of planning, business meetings and focusing on business strategy for the next level of my organisation.

I wake up really early in the morning and start my day with prayer, meditation and positive affirmations. I really like to get a real balance and focus of my day before I jump into my schedule. I have a good wholesome breakfast so that my mind is powered for the day.

I then start to go through my emails and see if there is anything that needs to be attended to urgently. Often times I have a few business meetings throughout the day that relate to business growth and strategy.

Once my meetings are finished I go through my plan that has been set for the day and carry out any duties that are required of me. I actively check social media throughout the day particularly Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for both and Young Ladies Club. This allows me to gain an understanding of the needs of the core target market.

What made you start the business and how did you get started?

I started the organisation Young Ladies Club which is a platform to inspire
and encourage young women ages 16-25 in the areas of; Entrepreneurship, Employment, Education and Personal development. I recognised through research that each area mentioned is fundamental to almost all young women’s growth, so I wanted to start up a company that supported this. Young Ladies Club carries out a wide stream of events and seminars that deal with each area successfully.

I started up Young Ladies Club because I had a passion for helping young women particularly in the areas mentioned above. I studied Business Management for four years at university and instantly knew that I had a passion for business and entrepreneurship. I also had to go through the exam process several times at university and having achieved a first class honours, I realised the need for education and the need to help others achieve the degree grade they desired. Regarding employment, I worked within the employability department within my university during my placement year. This opened my eyes to the different career paths and directions that young women could take after university. Lastly personal development was something that I was exposed to from the age of 19. It really strengthened me and demonstrated the importance of developing yourself and your mind.

What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment in the business world to date?

I believe that my biggest accomplishment to date in the business world was my business partnership with Microsoft. I had the opportunity through my organisation Young Ladies Club to host an employability seminar in June 2012 with Microsoft. Due to the success of the seminar, Microsoft decided to provide Young Ladies Club with a bigger platform to host the first ever Employability Conference within their headquarters in Reading. This was a huge accomplishment as many young women learnt a lot throughout the day including having their CV’s checked by members of the HR team within Microsoft.

What has been your biggest challenge in business so far?

Some of the biggest challenges I faced in business was during the initial start-up stages.

Gaining finances as initial capital within the business was difficult and also making major decisions to move the business forward.

Although these were initial challenges through perseverance and determination I managed to overcome these obstacles. As the business has moved forward there are still bigger decisions to make and more learning to do. However I have recognised that this is part of the territory so I have become accustomed to it.

I believe that as long as an individual has a strong desire and a willingness to succeed they can turn their challenges into stepping stones.

What are your future plans for the business?

My future plans for the business is expansion. I believe that expansion comes with growth and also an opportunity to learn. I think it is very fascinating to start something from the grass root stages and build it up organically.

If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I like this question and I have had it a few times, honestly I believe that if I have the opportunity to do it all over again and alter things, I would not be the person I am today. The past lessons and mistakes are what have helped shape me until this day. However I believe that looking forward into the future, I would place a bigger emphasis on review. I believe that the process of review is not only important in business but it is important in life also.

Why is it so important to inspire young women in particular to follow their dreams?

I believe that it is important to inspire young women because I am a young woman so I more or less have a natural instinct to help people who I can relate with more. I believe that the future is bright for young women and women as a whole. More and more women are leading top organisations and taking on the challenge of starting their businesses. I believe this is absolutely fascinating and it is something that I am very passion about.

I believe that writing my new book ‘ I Dare You’ has provided me with an even bigger platform to influence people in my generation both male and female.

What advice would you give to somebody who wants to start a business in your industry?

I would advise the individual to conduct a lot of research so that they know what the expectations of their target market are. I believe that knowledge is power and you can only do what you know, so lots of research and the ability to get around a good network of people who are already in business would help the individual soar!

What or who inspires you in business and why?

One of my biggest inspirations in business is Mary Kay, although she is no longer alive, I still admire her passion and her work ethic. I also admired her principles which were to always put God first. She inspired a lot of women and provided them with the ability to gain financial freedom through economic empowerment which is what I aim to do in my life.

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

“When the going gets tough the tough get going”.

If you want to win you must be able to withstand tough times and just keep moving on! I believe that is why that is my favourite quote.

Twitter: @hanoyewole