In a special series on women entrepreneurs of the diaspora, BlackEnterprise.com will bring you highlights on power females who have taken their passions and made them profitable — from North America to Europe to Africa and everywhere in between.
Barbara Kasumu (@barbarakasumu) is co-founder of Elevation Networks, a British youth employment charity that aims to bridge the gap between disadvantaged groups and industry. Kasumu has worked with government departments, NGOs and various youth projects across Europe, Africa and the Caribbean.
BlackEnterprise.com spoke to the British social entrepreneur about her career passions and challenges and how she incorporates advocacy in her work.
BlackEnterprise.com: What inspired you to create Elevation Networks?
Barbara Kasumu: From a young age, I’ve always been passionate about helping people. This has been the motivation behind the growth of Elevation Networks. Outside of Elevation Networks, I have been actively involved in the youth development sector, working with youth in Europe, Africa and the Caribbean, collaborating with heads of state and more than 20 organizations.
What do you love the most about your role?
The great thing about running your own organization is that you have complete creative license to change and influence things directly. There’s no red tape.
We can literally create the change we want and empower the students in our network to do the same on their campus. The best part is witnessing the transformation of the students and young people who come in rough around the edges, totally unaware about the world around them.
Watching them evolve into people who are work ready, informed and well-rounded is fantastic.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your role?
One of the key challenges is finding people with like-mind and passion. At times when you have a vision, you’re simply running on hopes and dreams, especially when things don’t always go as planned.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve received?
That’s a hard one. I would say placing emphasis on building relationships rather than just business transactions.
What advice would you give to an aspiring social entrepreneur?
The most important thing is to have your vision and values in place. As you start to progress and grow stay focused. Be selective with regards to who you associate your organization with.
The world is a very small place and so maintaining a good reputation and good relationships with clients and service users alike is fundamental.
Read more interviews with Black British female entrepreneurs at TwentyTenClub.com
Octavia Goredema is founder of relocation resource Crash Course City and the Twenty Ten Club, an award-winning networking organization and online resource designed to connect, inspire and support black female entrepreneurs. Goredema has been awarded the title Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by The Queen for her services supporting black businesswomen.