/ /

Parlour MAVEN: Foluke Akinlose Providing Inspiration to Women and Girls Across the UK

Are there any women who you have your eye on for future events?
Whenever I meet a woman of color in business or in corporate life (or even in the bus or supermarket!) I always make a point of telling them about the awards, why they were launched and why they should enter. Lots of women say, ‘Why me?’ when I encourage them to enter and I always reply ‘Why not you?’

What inspires you?
My family, my mum, my sister. I have two nieces, seven and nine, who spoke with me at the PRECIOUS awards last year. I look at them and remember that when I was their age being a visible woman of color in business was so rare. Because of the PRECIOUS awards they know that being a woman of color in business is a realistic option. They help by packing goody bags, they always want to know who the finalists are and whenever they see a PRECIOUS finalist on the TV, they feel proud.

From the positions you’ve held in your career to your many ancillary PRECIOUS projects, what’s your proudest accomplishment?
Probably receiving my MBE in 2010, in recognition of launching the first online magazine for women of color in the UK. There is no bigger endorsement that you are doing OK in your professional life than being recognized by the Queen.

Please tell me more about PRECIOUS Girls, what schools do you currently work with?
Here in the UK, PRECIOUS is proud to partner with [high school] St. Matthew Academy in South East London. It’s a multicultural co-ed school and we work with their pupils, both girls and boys, to inspire and encourage them to see that being a person of color and having your own business is a possibility. I want to make an impact and to show girls and young people in general that if you work hard and focus you really can achieve whatever you want to achieve.

The PRECIOUS Girls project runs events giving the pupils access to former awards winners. Our last project ‘What’s PRECIOUS to you?’ asked the girls to design a T-shirt showing what was PRECIOUS to them (i.e. a person, a place, an ideal etc.) and use their skills to get the T-shirts to market. We asked them to draw up a business plan covering where they would sell the t-shirt, how much would it cost to produce and sell, etc. It was a great project and the girls really took it to their hearts and minds.

Last 5 posts by Sherry J. Bitting