BEING REGINA CLARKSON- UNLEASHING THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT
August 12, 2019
It is said that great things come in small packages and that is exceptionally true for Regina Clarkson, a young entrepreneur and a ‘Jill of trades’ .
She is the founder and owner of Clarkson Cupcakes, a cupcake business that took Sierra Leone by storm. They are on a hiatus, learning and strategising to re-launch bigger and better in 2020. Since then, she has been actively involved with several start-ups across different industries in fashion, beauty, and cosmetics, consulting education and agriculture. In her free time she hosts shows and leading events in Sierra Leone.
Her entrepreneurship spirit was evident right through her formative years. She recounts an experience in High school:
“I’d say I started when I was in high school. Back then at The International School, my seniors would run out of recharge cards. It was very difficult and risky to buy new recharge cards instantly. I noticed this pattern, and found a solution! I brought my phone to school and made sure I had enough recharge cards to sell to them at a higher price. Obviously, they weren’t allowed to leave the school premises during school hours, so purchasing from me was the only option. This experience and a few others triggered my interest in entrepreneurship.”
As she shared her experiences with us we couldn’t help but notice that Regina is a 20 year old youth with an entrepreneurial spirit. As we celebrate The International Day of the Youth today, we can all learn from her vision for problem-solving and creating ecosystems that work through challenges.
CHALLENGING THE STATUS QUO
It is hard growing up in a society where you are not expected to have an opinion because of your age or where you are not given the freedom to expand and build on your potential because you are supposed to follow the rules society has laid down for you.
Regardless of these expectations, I still cultivate my ideas and plans. Fully accepting that I am not always right; that does not alter my opinions and views on different things and issues.
People find it difficult to understand who I am because I am continually changing my habits and in a way my mind set. It took a while for my parents to understand that I am that – different. I don’t believe in stereotypes. I am always unlearning and re-learning preconceived notions. My daily question is: How can I be the best at what I do?
I work alone. Why? Because I feel that people take so much time to understand my vision and getting them to understand drains me. This is a personal challenge; I am learning how to delegate and trust people. In the future I want to be open to collaborations and partnerships.
African entrepreneurs mostly start a business venture due to their passion, extreme thirst and hunger for success. Although these are great catalysts, it can only get you started. That initial driving force isn’t always sustainable enough to scale, run and manage a business.
The solution would be the availability of more online business schools, training from regional and National and International NGOs and experts. This way, our minds would be more open to innovative and creative ideas with new ways of running our businesses. We would avoid certain mistakes and pitfalls and make a vast difference in our communities and countries in a shorter time and space.
In 2018, I got accepted to a program called AWEC – African Women Entrepreneurship Cooperative, which is a 12-month business management and capacity building program for female entrepreneurs across the whole of Africa.
I completed AWEC in 2019. The experience made me realize that no matter how much work experience one has as an employee, the case becomes different when you’re actually a business owner or a top manager. Most women in the program had a decent amount of work experience, but nevertheless, they found the program very impactful because of the intense and much needed technical support which was specifically designed for start-ups and newbies in the world of entrepreneurship.
INNOVATION IN AFRICA
If I had the power to enact a legislature for entrepreneurship in Africa, I would pass a mandate that urges African entrepreneurs to be as creative as possible in their businesses, as a way of enabling the continent’s sustainability. This will lead to very little imports from other countries because we wouldn’t have to rely heavily on foreign resources.
I believe this should be the essence of entrepreneurship in Africa. Entrepreneurship is about finding solutions to issues and one of the biggest issues in Africa is our over dependence on foreign aid.
Ideally, each business should eventually have a certain amount of impact (economic or social) towards the development and advancement of the continent. We are in a continent rich in resources and raw materials. There are so many opportunities all around us. Entrepreneurs and business-minded people should constantly think of outsourcing raw materials across Africa and also find new ways of using our resources to create products and services which are home grown – For example, products that have about eighty percent of African based raw materials.
The goal here is to imprint in the minds of every African entrepreneur that the issues we face can be solved by ourselves and through our various business ventures.
LESSONS FOR THE FUTURE
I aspire to become a very influential serial entrepreneur, an International Mistress of Ceremony, a marketing expert, start-up coach, and business enthusiast.
I intend to create thousands of jobs and opportunities for Africans continent-wide. It seems ambitious but that is a hallmark of entrepreneurship – ambition.
I know it can be done with hard work and tenacity. I know I am young but that is a plus for me because it means I have more time to make all the mistakes and learn from them. I look up to these three people as inspiration:
Vusi Thembekwayo – a South African Entrepreneur, global keynote speaker, and venture capitalist. He inspires me a lot because he speaks conscious vibes and he is quite articulate when he talks.
Lexie Alford – She is the youngest female to have visited all the countries in the world. This shows that at 21, you could have already lived a fearless and adventurous life if you dare to. I love to explore, to try new things and to travel, so knowing someone so young and bold, fuels the fearless side of me too.
Irene Georgestone – Irene is my best friend and is currently a UWC scholar, schooling in Norway. Irene has been through a whole lot in life, but the way she always gets back up each time and doesn’t allow life to get the best of her. She is simply amazing. Her life shows me that I have absolutely no reason to wallow in defeat, failure or pity. I can get up each time, wipe my tears and give life my best.
I look forward to a life full of service to mankind. I’m currently keen on learning more about the various things that will help in the economic growth of Sierra Leone. I believe that someday soon, I’ll render my contributions and support.