Miriam Kay is a Sierra Leone born entrepreneur, SME business consultant, marketing strategist, business coach, content creator, and motivational speaker. She is also the CEO/founder of The Dora Foundation which she set up for sickle cell support and youth development that currently operates in the UK and Sierra Leone. Miriam Kay was born in Makeni City in northern Sierra Leone where she spent her early years before she relocated to Freetown in August 1998 to seek refuge after their home was destroyed by rebels during the war. Miriam, at a very tender age, was forced to experience the bitterness of war as a child growing up. This greatly affected her childhood experience and education.
Miriam Kay attended the– St Joseph RC Girls School, Makeni and the UMC Primary school, Freetown, where she completed her Primary school education, She later moved to London where she was enrolled at the Geoffrey Chaucer School, London, where completed her Secondary School . she later enrolled at the St Saviours and St Olaves Sixth Form, London. She currently holds BSc degree in Business Management from the University of Roehampton.
Upon relocating to Freetown, when she thought she could comfortably continue her education, the rebels later attacked and killed thousands of children, youth and adults including some of her friends/school mates. Even after the war ended her battle with Sickle Cell never did, in fact her health got worse and her mum who was living in the UK at that time was desperate for her and her siblings to join her in the UK. Finally, she succeeded in bringing all three of them to the UK in 2002 and since then the UK has been her home. Her entire education since the age of 12 has been in the UK.
From the moment she moved to the UK, Miriam made a vow to herself which was to support her community and country, mostly children and young people affected by sickle, she founded the Dora Foundation to connect and support sickle cell patients and youth developments. She has visited and supported countless numbers of children and young people.
She runs a youtube channel Miriam kay where she uploads videos such as business tips, cooking, helpful life tips/hacks, vlogs, family life, discussions, and much more. She also has a blog ( www.miriamkay.co.uk ) where information on vlogs and free resources to help you on your own journey of Personal & Profession Growth are posted
She has received several awards for business, and charity work, she won Sierra Leone Excellence Award 2013 as the Best young people’s fashion business, LMA (Leaders Mind Ambassador) Award 2016, as the Best Female Outstanding Leader of the Year, – Special Recognition Award in the field of Business Enterprise, the Calabash Unsung Heroes Award 2019, Sierra Lebrity Award 2019, Charity of the Year (The Dora Foundation)
At Salone Messenger, I had an interview with her to tell us her story.
- You are a business Entrepreneur, Business Coach, Marketing Strategist, Motivational Speaker, tell us about your work.
ANSWER: “I stumbled into the business field at the young age of 16 years old through an extra-curriculum workshop. After putting together my first ever business plan for a venture my sister wanted to establish, we were rewarded with a grant to bring our idea to life. Since then I have been deeply passionate about the world of business. Initially, my career plan was to find a suitable management role with the business sector after I graduated. However, after successfully starting a job as a recruitment consultant, my health deteriorated which led to me being dismissed. This was so soul crushing for me at the time because I felt like all my hard work and perseverance were in vain. With my family supported I was able to slowly overcome those dark days of depression and feeling hopeless. After doing some soul-searching I realised this was an opportunity for me to put my skills, knowledge and experience into good use and find my purpose. This led to me setting up my foundation and as well as me realising I can combine my passion for business and helping people. This is how I went on to become a business coach to help people to grow their business/brand and achieve their goals through strategic planning. Furthermore, I wanted to use my experiences to inspire and empower people from all works of life regardless of their challenges and struggles which is how I started doing motivational speaking.”
- Your organization The Dora Foundation, tell us about who your targeted beneficiaries are and why?
ANSWER: “The Dora Foundation was set up for Sickle Cell Support and Youth Development. Our beneficiaries include sickle cell patients and their families as well as talented youths who just need support to help them achieve their goals. We work with the community and educational institutes to raise awareness about sickle cell which is the most common genetic condition within Afro-Caribbean people, yet little is understood about the condition. The foundation currently has over 80 sickle cell patients who receive free blood tests, medication supply, and medical check-ups every month. We provide useful information materials to patients as well as their loved ones. Our team works closely with family members to educate them about the condition so they will be able to provide better care and support to the patient. The foundation liaises between the community, institutes, and health care professionals to provide better care and understanding for patients. Moreover, we have donated school supplies, drinking buckets, hand washing, and sanitization resources and we have sponsored several community empowerment programs.”
Q. What inspired you to form the organization?
ANSWER: “When I started taking trips back home and getting involved within my community by volunteering to teach at school, taking to young people and supporting community programs like sports, I started realising that from the time I had left Sierra Leone to move to the UK things have not improve in the slightest way. I met countless families who were struggling to cope with raising kids with Sickle Cell. I was hearing the same misconceptions and stigmas attached to having Sickle Cell that were so outdated which brought back memories of what my family and I went through several years back. Memories I had tried to bury like me being labelled a ‘witch’ at the tender age of 6 due to complications related to my condition. Additionally, I came across so many talented youths that just needed support to help them achieve their goals. All these experiences made me feel compelled to “be the change I want to see”. Although I was also struggling with the impact and implications linked to my condition, I knew something had to be done. I felt there was a great need to raise awareness and educate entire communities about this condition so more kids would not have to undergo what I did due to lack of awareness, education, and support. In 2015, I took a trip back home to officially set up The Dora Foundation for Sickle Cell Support and Youth Development.”
Q. What are some of the challenges you are faced with?
ANSWER: “In terms of the foundation, the key challenge we have faced is getting adequate financial support. I believe the main reason for this is because the public has lost trust on the intentions of so called charities. Countless numbers of organisations and individuals have used charity scam people out of their hard earned cash which has led to scepticism regarding the authenticity of any so called charitable organisation. Additionally, the current covid19 global pandemic has brought further challenges for our growth as majority of people worldwide have been financially crippled making it even harder for us to get any financial support although the demand for our services has increased. This can be discouraging; however, I will not let this deter from my purpose and passion to help change lives and bring about positive changes.”
Q. As changes are inevitable and everyone is entitled to one, where would you want to be in the next 5 years? What are your aspirations?
ANSWER: “Within the next 5 years, I hope to expand the foundation and have various branches in different countries as well as continuing to advocate for better understanding and positive changes. I also aspire to be able to use my story to inspire more people from all works of life regardless of whether they have a medical condition or not via my upcoming book/memoir and other upcoming projects”
Q. What have been your greatest achievements?
ANSWER: “Over the years, I have received several awards and recognition, however, I personally feel like my greatest achievement thus far has been being able to do things no one expected me to be able to do such as the ability to successfully juggle my business, foundation, and motherhood while making a positive impact and changing countless lives along the way.”
Q. What would be your message to young people in Sierra Leone? ANSWER: “My message to the young people in Sierra Leone is to encourage them to keep going and never give up. I know this is easier said than done when you live in a country with limited opportunities, however, you must never give up hope because a life without hope is a meaningless one. Moreover, I will advise young people in Sierra Leone to fully utilize the advancement of technology and the growth in digital networking using social media platforms. These platforms are not just for chatting and finding out the latest gossip as they can also be used as networking tools to find opportunities for your growth and professional development. These platforms can be used to connect with likeminded people, find opportunities, build your brand, find potential clients, join communities, and create a fan base of supporters. Truly the possibilities are endless. Keep going and never give up.”