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Khalia Ismain | UK | Focus On Your EXECUTION!

I studied Politics, Philosophy and Economics at university, and so I've always been interested in society, and more broadly, social change. However, the more I learned about politics, the more disillusioned I became with its ability to effectively produce positive outcomes for people. As a result, I became more interested in social enterprise and aligning profit with purpose. I spent a few months in Kericho, Kenya working with micro-entrepreneurs to help them move their businesses from the informal to the formal sector and became inspired to start my own business. At the time, the Black Lives Matter movement had started to gain momentum and people were talking about wanting to support more businesses from the African and Caribbean diaspora - I wanted to ensure that this feeling was captured in a project that could be sustained. That's why I created Jamii as a discount card: it makes it easier for people to discover these businesses and gives them an extra incentive to buy from them all year round.

What three pieces of advice would you give to college students (young and old) locally or internationally who want to become entrepreneurs?

(1) There is no rush to get started on the business aspect - spend time finding your passion and crafting an expertise around it. Entrepreneurship is hard and so passion is essential. Choosing something that you love doing should be the priority.

(2) Surround yourself with people who inspire you, motivate you and have achieved more than you in one way or another. These people can form part of your social circle, your 'entrepreneur' circle or even be people that you find on social media. Find people that you would like to emulate.

(3) Remember that you are unique. People may copy your idea, but they can never replicate you or your way. Don't focus on the competition - focus on the execution of your business.

If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?

I've been in the working world for less than 2 years and so there's not much I have any regrets about! So far, everything that I have worked on has contributed to this wonderful and fulfilling path and so I am extremely thankful. If I could re-do my education though, I would have chosen to learn another language.

What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?

Rather than say you need certain skills to be an entrepreneur, I think it's essential that you have certain attributes: self-belief, passion and perseverance. It's difficult to take an idea from your head and turn it into something tangible that others can see and experience - you need to have belief in yourself and what you are trying to achieve to take it there, and you need to be prepared to continue working on it even when it's not going as planned.

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