Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
I am CEO and Founder of The Sparkle Foundation, a not-for-profit I set up at the age of 18 in Malawi. From what started as a mission to just make a difference to one child’s life is now a fully functioning registered charity that supports thousands of vulnerable children with education, medical care and nutrition. I am also a CSR consultant and have worked with a number of entities around the globe creating bespoke programmes for employees and companies who want to make lasting impact and create measurable change. When I am not consulting I am speaking and have been fortunate enough to carry out over 150 speaking engagements throughout the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe. From Ted-X and corporate dinners to client meetings and royal addresses, I cover a range of different topics and the fees given for my time fund the charity.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your work?
Seeing the impact we have made. Some of the babies I helped deliver are now six years old and going to school and speaking English – it’s crazy. The UK government told me I would never be able to achieve my vision – six years on they are now offering me funding and I am responsible for 7,500 people.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
Never give up. I have nearly died seven times, been wrongly arrested, held at gunpoint and threatened. I was told I couldn’t eat with other people in my field because I was a woman and have been repeatedly told I look more like a Love Island contestant than a CEO who has spoken at all of the big four accountancy firms. If I had listened to those around me, Sparkle would never be where it is today.
Why do you think it’s important to support other women?
I have dealt with so many challenges being a woman in my career and I would hate for others to have to go through what I did. We are stronger together. We can learn so much from one another and be better people because of it.
Which living person do you most admire?
My parents. I left them to travel to Malawi when I was 18 and their world completely changed. I have been on life support, hospitalised more than 40 times, held at ransom where my Dad was called and asked for money for my life and wrongly put in jail. They never once told me to stop following my dream. Even when everyone around them told them not to let me go back, they said, “We know our daughter and this is her purpose and we would be failing her as parents if we didn’t let her fulfil it.”
Who inspires you?
What is your motto?
Anything is possible.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Becoming the first non-Arab to be awarded Humanitarian of the Year in the Middle East by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and being invited to meet the Queen for being named in the top 25 social CEOs in the UK and being the youngest winner.
What is your favourite thing about being a member of the AllBright?
The people. I am starting to get to know some of the ladies and for someone who has worked alone for most of her life it is so refreshing to have people around me, just for a smile and a hello.
What does sisterhood mean to you, and who’s in yours?
A group of people who you can rely on. Every time I have posted on the AllBright network the response has been amazing. I now have a trustee, an Admin and Research volunteer and a speaking coach, all through the sisterhood. My sisterhood is everyone in my contact list. I have been fortunate to meet some incredible people on this journey who continue to walk with me and help me change more lives.