Youth Advocate Vanessa Sanyauke

Vanessa Sanyauke
The Rafiki Network

Vanessa Sanyauke is the founding director of The Rafiki Network, an award winning mentoring and leadership training company that to date has provided services for over 2,000 young people in the UK aged 11-25.

In 2010, Vanessa was recognized for her work in the social sector, presented with a Spirit of London Award for Community Champion. In 2011 she was invited to City Hall by the Mayor of London and was presented with a London Peace Award.

Vanessa was interviewed by the students of St Philomena’s Catholic High School for Girls as part of the Twenty Ten Club’s “Interview an Entrepreneur” school programme.

What or who inspired you to become an entrepreneur? (Holly, 13 years)
Oprah Winfrey. I am inspired by how she came from a very poor background and is now one of the world’s richest women. She had to overcome a lot of obstacles to get to where she is today.

How did you become an entrepreneur? (Lucia, 13 years)
I found something I was passionate about and saw a need.

Do you feel that your schools had a big influence on you? (Stephanie, 14 years)
I had a teacher at school that encouraged me to go further. It helps if someone outside of your family believes in you.

Did your college education change your future hopes in anyway? (Lucia, 13 years)
My parents pushed me to do a science degree and to become a doctor when my dream was to be Whitney Houston. My parents would not let me do any arts or singing so I ended up doing A-level Science and then a biomedical science degree. I am proud of the fact that I finished my studies and went off to University.

My advice would be to think about what you want to do and what you enjoy. One of my favourite quotes is “if you do something that you love, you will never work a day in your life!”

To get where you are now what obstacles, if any, did you have to overcome? (Rebeca, 13 years)
I had passion but no experience. If you keep going someone will believe in you.

What do you think being an entrepreneur has brought to your life? (Georgia, 14 years)
Don’t sit still. I look at what I have achieved and that I am creating a legacy to leave behind.

Would you change anything about your job and if so what? (Niamh, 14 years)
It is great to do something that you love but I did not realise how much paperwork there would be or the amount of chasing payments.

What does success mean to you? (Chelsea, 14 years)
Success is when someone I have helped has been impacted by my business.

What advice would you give to a young person wanting to start their own business? (Nora, 13 years)
Do it. If something goes wrong look at what did you learn from it?’ Make friends outside of your normal friendship groups.

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For more information on the Twenty Ten Club’s Interview an Entrepreneur school programme visit

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