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ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.



Library of Articles


African Diaspora

“What drives someone to hold others back from doing, being or achieving something?” asks blogger Elvina Quaison.

Blogger Elvina Quaison launches a series of articles designed to get you talking. “To begin these conversations, I would like to talk about Ghana @60. Let’s talk.”

Saffron Jackson, the founder of the company behind Zuree Dolls, on making identity and culture child’s play.

Recently honoured by the Queen for inspiring Black, Asian and ethnic minorities to donate blood, Dapo Odumeru MBE, co-founder of the Blood for Life Foundation, talks about his mission to raise awareness within minority communities.


Videographer and Photographer Matthew David talks about his journey from owning his first camera to building a business in photography and graphic design.

AD3 serves as a platform for networking, knowledge sharing and best practices as we explore a theme linked to 'diaspora and development'. This year AD3 will explore and share insights on how the diaspora can contribute towards creating an Africa where their passions and innovations can thrive.

Talented costume designer and stylist Ruka Johnson shares her inspiring story, the influence of her African heritage, and her career tips.

Afrimari (African Maritime) is a professional networking group specialising in the dynamic and fast-growing African maritime, energy and trade related sectors.

The Homecoming Revolution Insights Report sets out the key reasons Africans move abroad, what they miss most when they are there, what links them to home and the triggers that encourage them to return.

Fitness coach and wellness expert ‘Coach Cass’ Nuamah shares some tips on how to make those much needed lifestyle changes.

Innovative jewellery designer Betty Balaba launches her gold and silver debut collection and talks about how her work combines Ugandan inspiration and British craftsmanship.

Managing life with a disabled child offers countless joys to many parents and families but can also bring challenges, confusion and sometimes even a sense of helplessness.

'Enterprising Nigerian-born lawyer, June Douglas, founder of the Pamela Douglas Foundation Worldwide, shares how she created a movement born out of her own family’s experience and which now supports service providers and families, helping disabled people to feel included and engaged within their communities.'

ReConnect Africa: Can you tell us about Pamela and when and how you discovered that she had special needs?

June Douglas: Pamela became ill at the pre-school age of 4. One day she simply flopped and had a fit. Several drugs were tried and found ineffective, causing further complications. She was later diagnosed with Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome – a childhood form of epilepsy which is difficult to control. This came with speech and mobility problems. That is how we discovered she had special needs to get on in life.

ReConnect Africa: What inspired you to set up the Pamela Douglas Foundation Worldwide?

June Douglas: I gained a lot of experience from looking after Pamela, especially as I had struggled for a long time to be able to get her through the system in order to access services.

With that experience, and with my skills as a Humanistic Counsellor and Lawyer, I thought no other parent should go through the same difficulty. That was why I decided to set up this Foundation to support other families

ReConnect Africa: What do you believe are the key issues that disabled people and their families have to face on a daily basis?

June Douglas: The greatest problem is that of poverty, as members of the family often sacrifice a working life to care for the disabled relative. Quite often, members of the family have to struggle to be able to put the disabled person through the social system and 24-hour care is very stressful. There is also a social stigma that has to be faced as the general public often lacks awareness of the nature of the conditions that affect the disabled.

ReConnect Africa: What kind of services do you provide through the Foundation?

June Douglas: We provide advice, counselling, create awareness, and influence governmental policies and mentoring for disabled people and their families.

ReConnect Africa: How do you reach out to service providers and families who could benefit from your experiences and the work of the Foundation?

June Douglas: I am Chair of the Board of Trustees of a large organisation for disabled children and young persons. I have chaired several governmental Committees on disability which had exposed me to parents and families of those with disability. Hence I can be easily contacted when parents have problems.

ReConnect Africa: As part of your mission statement, you say ‘It’s okay to be different’. What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about having a disabled family member?

June Douglas: The greatest misconception is that disabled people are not useful in any way; but these people have their talents and, when given the opportunity, they excel.

ReConnect Africa: What impact do you believe the Foundation has had so far and what are your hopes for its future?

June Douglas: Since the inception of the Foundation, several organisations have joined the conversation. They have followed our footsteps by creating organisations for the disabled.

Most importantly parents have benefitted from the advice and counselling we have given. The families are appreciative of this support.

Moving to Ghana after a lifetime in the UK brought its challenges and triumphs. After 3 years in Africa, Elvina Quaison is changing course.

The inspiring Bernice Blackie shares the story behind her journey from Liberia to a successful gospel career in the United States.

Kwei Quartey, author of the Inspector Darko Dawson crime novels set in Ghana, talks about the joys and challenges of a writing career.
Angeline Murimirwa, founding member of the CAMA network of young women leaders in sub-Saharan Africa, talks, encourages. and personifies audacity.

Image Businesses owned by Black, Latina and Asian women are growing at a faster rate than all U.S. firms in terms of growth of revenues and number of employees.

The number of companies owned by women of colour has skyrocketed over the past decade making them the nation's fastest-growing segment of all privately held firms, recent studies show.

The Center for Women’s Business Research in a recent study places the number of firms now owned at least 50 percent by women of colour at 2.3 million, providing 1.7 million jobs and generating $235 billion in revenues.

The report shows that businesses owned by Latinas and Black and Asian women are growing at a faster rate than all U.S. firms in terms of growth of revenues and number of employees.

Margaret A. Smith, chair of the Center for Women's Business Research, notes that "the face of women entrepreneurship is changing."

Today, women of colour represent 26 percent of all women business owners - up from 20 percent just a few years ago. These business owners are a vital driver of economic growth in every community and a vibrant source of suppliers and customers. As of 2008, there were 2.3 million firms [that were] 50 percent or more owned by women of colour, providing 1.7 million jobs and generating $235 billion in revenues."

Today, women of colour represent 26 percent of all women business owners - up from 20 percent just a few years ago.

According to the study, businesses at least 50 percent owned by Latinas and Black and Asian women grew twice as fast in terms of revenue (35 percent versus 15 percent) and three times as fast in terms of number (30 percent versus 9 percent).

Among Latinas and Black and Asian women (as of 2008), Black women owned the second highest number of firms (734,664), employed 281,055 people, and had revenues of more than $32 billion. Latinas had the largest number of businesses, owning nearly 747,108 firms, employing 430,000 workers and generating revenues of $62 billion. Asian-American women's companies outpaced all others in growth in numbers, employment and receipts.

 

A report by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Minority Business Development Agency concluded that minority women entrepreneurs are establishing businesses twice as fast as male minority business owners - and more than four times the rate of non-minority men and women.

The number of firms owned at least 51 percent by women of color increased 57 percent between 1997 and 2002 to nearly 1.5 million companies with $111 billion in gross receipts. By contrast, minority male-owned firms increased 31 percent, all women-owned businesses jumped 20 percent, and all male-owned firms increased by 16 percent.

Image The MBDA study said women of color have expanded predominantly into the health care and social assistance fields. It found that to be the case for 35 percent of African-American business owners, 23 percent of Latina business owners, and 15 percent of Asian entrepreneurs. Asian women entrepreneurs, however, were more likely to own firms offering "other services," or 23 percent.

"Women see entrepreneurship as the key to freedom – providing flexibility and wealth creation," said Ronald N. Langston, MBDA's national director. "Women are taking advantage of their talents and experience establishing businesses throughout our communities at astounding rates. Many choose entrepreneurship as a way to battle the glass ceiling that still, unfortunately exists in corporate America."

Despite the rapid growth in numbers, minority business women have yet to reach parity based on population and they trail minority male-owned businesses in gross receipts and employees, the MBDA report concluded.

Minority women entrepreneurs are establishing businesses twice as fast as male minority business owners.

According to experts in US entrepreneurial studies said the growth in minority women-owned businesses is a phenomenon underscoring the strides in education, opportunity and access to capital made by women of colour as they increasingly invest in their own ventures rather than fight limitations imposed by corporate America.

 

Some point to the fact that, with fewer barriers to capital, better education among young entrepreneurs, and a discovery of second-career opportunities for older women, it is inevitable that increased numbers of women – and minority women – own businesses.

The perception and reality of a glass ceiling in regard to gender and race is also cited by experts as a reason for frustration with traditional employment, driving minority women to choose to pursue other avenues where they are not dealing with negative behaviour and therefore choosing to be their own boss.

For more from the Center for Women's Business Research, visit http://www.nfwbo.org

ImageWhile shopping may seem the ultimate pleasure for some of us, when shopping is your profession, it's not always as easy as it seems. Staying in the know about the best of London's high street stores, designer boutiques and vintage shops and styling high-profile clients is no small feat.

ReConnect Africa spoke to Zoe Huskisson, 'the ultimate personal shopper' about the challenges and joys of life as a professional stylist.

RCA: Zoe, can you explain what exactly a stylist does?

ZH: A fashion stylist can work in various capacities; for magazines (which involves styling the fashion pages), organising fashion shoots, and personal styling, which is working with clients - often celebrities - to create a style which flatters.

RCA: What inspired you to follow this career path?

ZH: I have always had a keen interest in fashion and I genuinely believe that fashion is not totally superficial, because if you look good then you feel good.

Image I graduated from the London College of Fashion obtaining a BA Hons. Fashion Promotion degree. The course covered journalism, public relations and broadcast. I specialised in journalism and had to create an 84-page lifestyle magazine for my final year project. I really enjoyed the creativity of styling the fashion pages - everything from casting the models, researching the location and deciding on the concept.

After graduating, I worked in various areas of the media including television production and editorial journalism. I was a regular contributor to Pride magazine and also styled TV presenter Josie D'Arby for the cover.

I have also had my work featured in the international publication ‘Hello!’ magazine, where I styled the first Muslim Miss England. In the magazine, I had her wearing designs by Elizabeth Emmanuel who designed Princess Diana's iconic wedding dress.

RCA: What are some of the challenges in running a business of this kind?

Image ZH: Being your own boss means you have no-one to blame but yourself if things go wrong. Networking is really important and this might not be as creative as working with a client, but it's vital for business.

Initially it can be tricky gaining customers as many people associate personal stylists with celebrities. However, with the popularity of fashion-related programmes such as those presented by Trinny and Susannah and Gok Wan, it is making the industry more accessible.

Whether you're a celebrity or not, everyone deserves to look their best. I love a challenge so I do not see this as a negative thing and the positive feedback from my clients far outweighs any big hurdles!

Whether you're a celebrity or not, everyone deserves to look their best.

RCA: What have you found to be the benefits of what you do?

ZH: I love working with people and this is the perfect job for me. Image To help a client with their style, I also have to learn about their lifestyle, career etc.

It is truly rewarding to see how a new outfit can really boost someone's confidence. I recently styled a lady who was attending the Mama Mia! film premiere- she lived in casual clothes and was totally transformed into a glamorous goddess for the red carpet event. I feel very fortunate to be doing a job that I enjoy.

RCA: What lessons can you share with people who would like to do what you are doing?

ZH: It's not enough to have an interest in fashion, it's equally important to be a sociable person. Many clients requiring style assistance trust you to be honest, yet helpful.

Keep yourself updated on fashion trends and how a designer look translates to the High Street. This is paramount as clients' budgets can vary from £50 to £5000!

Learn more about Style Elite:  www.style-elite.com   info@style-elite.com  Tel: 07956 462 118

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