Britain’s Successful Black Woman Social Network (BSBW): Interview

“They quittin’ school, making babies and can barely read, some gone off to their fall. I’ve seen them shootin’ up funerals in their Sunday clothes, spending money on spinners but won’t pay college loans. Teacher, teacher please reach those girls in them videos, the little girls just broken Queen, confusing bling for soul” are the words by Mavela Daley’s favourite singer Janelle Monae . The lyrics depict hurdles created by perpetuated social myths that working class ethnic women have to battle against. But the lives described could not be more different from that of  Caribbean -English Mavela who’s set up a social-networking site to support ethnic women with their aspirations.

Britain’s Successful Black Woman- the social (online) network – was officially launched by Daley on the 20th of December 2009 from her uni halls room as a Cambridge student. The aim of the group is to add something more than the usual online networks such as Myspace and Facebook, Mavela said: ”  to connect with black women in Britain and for us to feel as sense of unity as we were aiming to achieve our dreams and goals. ”

She explained: “At the time, I felt very isolated, and lonely as a black women in my student accommodation at Cambridge University and I felt at the time I needed something greater than myself and a sense of similarity to really encourage me and see me through. ”

This feeling among women from ethnic minorities is more common than you would think.  According to the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC)  80% of Black Caribbean 16 year old women think that they have to work harder to get to the top and even rule out some jobs because of their ethnicity. The EOC research also showed that Black Caribbean, Pakistani and Bangladeshi girls are more ambitious than white girls in the same schools.

Human resources publication, Personnel Today’s  findings from a study in  2007 are disconcerting:

There are fewer black Caribbean women with ‘no qualifications’ than there are women with ‘no qualifications’ from any other ethnic group. However, despite this, black Caribbean women are twice as likely to be unemployed as white British women. In addition, one in three black Caribbean women under 35 and one in five Bangladeshi and Pakistani women have experienced racist comments at work.

EOC’s investigation, ‘Moving on up?’  has found that stereotypical views of Bangladeshi, Pakistani and black Caribbean women are still rife in today’s UK workplaces. Despite their qualifications, Bangladeshi and Pakistani women, even when born and raised in the country, with a degree and seeking work, are still five times more likely to be unemployed than white British women. According to EOC research, 30-40% of ethnic minority women say they experience racism or sexism.  In fact, 38% of private sector employers and 13% of public sector employers have no Black or Asian women employees.

Mavela had the idea for the social network as a buffer against these factors :

” For me, the purpose that BSBW fulfils is to provide that sense of empathy and a strength to enable you to believe that your dreams are achievable: someone out there is similar to you, in a similar position to you,  and of a similar background and has a dream, is eager to achieve that dream. The power of the network comes from having women on board who believe in themselves and that they can achieve their ambition – and are working towards it. ”

Mavela, who is the first of her immediate  family to go to university, has recently celebrated her graduation in Social Sciences and is embarking on a career in London.  She was born in Montserrat and came to England in 1997 (aged eight) and grew-up in a close knit and supportive family of nine. Her mum, always helping people and advising friends on relationships and spirituality, is an inspiration for the website.

She said: ” I’m also inspired by Jada-Pinkett Smith all-round. Her demeanour, her confidence, her belief, her desire for success! ”

Every month sees new members sign up; women have joined us online creating profiles, listing their goals; how they are making them happen, explaining what they feel are the missing links to their success.  Quite a few of the women have contributed motivating blog posts, added pictures of their ‘successes’, and of their businesses. And people have  started to network: writing on each others’ walls and advertising events.

Mavela concludes:

For me personally as the Leader of BSBW,  ‘Rising to Success Together’ together is the slogan, so I’m not coming (in) as an expert, I’m simply living my life, developing, learning and growing and sharing my experiences and insights with the women as I go along.  For me it’s all about someone being there to ‘see you’ rising towards it and to keep you motivated and believing in you. ”

BSBW is free to join and has Blogs, a Forum, linked Video and Photos, there is also a BSBW Facebook page.

4 Responses to “Britain’s Successful Black Woman Social Network (BSBW): Interview”
  1. Vivian says:

    Enjoyed the read Jameela. BSBW sounds really interesting! I will check it out!


  2. Shara Rabich says:

    Black women in the U.S. and particularly in southern states could use a similar network. I think it’s awesome that Mavela has created such a social network, and I hope it continues to grow and inspire others.

  3. Zainab says:

    This is an awesome network and I can really see it going a long way. Keep it up Mavela. All the best!

  4. Mariah says:

    Hello this is amazing site! really cool and it will be a new inspirations for me

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