What happens to most good ideas? They stay locked away in our heads. It takes great courage to pursue our dreams and we are often hesitant to make sacrifices in our personal and professional lives.
But taking a risk can pay off. When studying in London, our founder Ismail Ahmed faced expensive fees and long queues at money transfer agents when sending money home to his family. This experience led him to believe that there must be a better way to send money abroad. With this vision, he founded WorldRemit.
Little did he know that a company that started with less than 5 employees would grow into an international giant. Fast forward to 2019 and WorldRemit is a leading online player in the remittance industry.
When we met Paula Macaulay, we realised that she has a lot in common with our founder. She too took a leap of faith and pursued her dream.
Paula, originally of Nigerian descent, is currently based in Peterborough, UK. She studied law at university but later realised that her passions lay elsewhere.
Many people dream of quitting their day jobs and focusing on their own businesses full time. Paula found a compromise, applying the skills that she has learnt in her current role as a Senior Digital Marketing Executive in a media company to her two passion projects.
We sat down with Paula, who has an inspirational message for anyone who is putting off chasing their dreams…
Hi Paula! Tell us more about your businesses.
After I finished university, I went travelling for a year. When I came back, I found a job but I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of starting a footwear company. At that point, I’d already been mulling over the idea for two to three years, and I felt ready to get things started.
I founded my first business, a footwear company Rayo, in August 2017. My shoes are designed specifically for ladies that wear a UK size 7-11. The inspiration for my business came from my life - I wear a size 9, and it became tough for me to find the kind of shoes that I like in the size I need.
In July 2018, I started my second business. It’s a black empowerment movement called #Issamovement. The core aim of the https://issamovement.co.uk/ is to change mindsets, create a greater sense of community and empower black people to provoke change for future generations.
What inspired you to follow your dreams?
I’d say that my biggest inspiration is my parents. As corny as that may sound, it’s the truth! I’ve never really been someone that looks up to celebrities or famous people.
Both my parents inspire me because at such a young age they chose to leave Nigeria, the country they knew and were born in, to start a new life in a place that was unfamiliar to them.
My mum inspires me because she’s a businesswoman through and through.
She’s a risk taker, and whenever my siblings and I share what we want to do or achieve with her, she always encourages us to just go for it.
My dad wasn’t a huge risk taker, but he’s the one that taught me the power of positive thinking, and how important it is to regulate your thoughts and your words. Because of my dad, I learnt to be patient and persistent.
What is your advice for people who want to follow their dreams?
One thing I realise more and more is that life is honestly too short to delay pursuing your dreams. Everyone can start doing something now that takes them a step closer to achieving their goals.
Even if that’s taking a course or internship or buying a domain name, there’s always something you can do right now to get you where you want to be.
How did you finance your businesses in the beginning?
Financing for both businesses has been a challenge. Launching a footwear company, in particular, comes with large start-up costs.
I took out a start-up loan to help get Rayo off the ground. That’s how I overcame that hurdle.
But, as with any brand, you need investment to grow, so I’m looking into a range of other options now for our rebrand.
Did the African diaspora influence your work?
If I wasn’t part of the African diaspora, then the #issamovement wouldn’t be a thing.
It was last year that I started taking more of an interest in the issues we face within the black community, and as a result, #issamovement was born.
I also know there is a massive market for Rayo in certain parts of Africa and I wouldn’t have even considered that if I wasn’t part of the diaspora.
How do you connect with your family and friends back home?
A lot of my family has moved away from Nigeria, so I have family all over the world now.
We generally use WhatsApp – it works for everyone and everywhere. WiFi is in every country that members of my family are in, and it’s free to communicate with them using WhatsApp.
I’m 24 years old, so I’m still considered as one of the kids in the family. But as I get older and more established in the things that I’m doing, sending money around the world to help my family will be very important to me.
I’m someone who keeps a family very close, so I want everyone important in my life to benefit from my successes too.
Is there something you have always feared pursuing because you thought you’re not good enough? You’re not alone.
At some stage, even the best inventors, founders and entrepreneurs asked themselves: ‘What if it doesn’t work out for me?’.
In the words of Oprah Winfrey; “You’ve got to follow your passion. You’ve got to figure out what it is you love. And have the courage to do that. I believe that the only courage anybody ever needs is the courage to follow your own dreams.”
What would you do if you were guaranteed to succeed? Let us know in the comments.