Day 1 Post ESC

There is a rule in our universe called, “six degrees of separation”. This rule dictates that every person on Earth is separated from every other person by six degrees, or six other people, and no more.

Oli and I start our own journey now. Since we married in August, it was straight into ESC the city without a chance to settle into married life. It’s exciting to embark on the startup journey with my love and with the support of a great man.

As we are about to embark on our startup journey and head off into the sunrise of our very own startups, what better way to tie us together than a challenge?

So Tribe, I challenge you to get involved. Here are the rules:

Be in nature

My husband whisked me away for a weekend in nature to celebrate my birthday. The air was crisp; super fresh and rejuvenating. Something about verdant, rolling hills makes me feel really alive and well.  And being in another environment was very conducive to our creativity. Oli was in flow, he was suggesting multiple business ideas, he wanted to learn what I’ve been learning at Escape the City.

Last week, we had a challenge. They called it the email hustle challenge. We had to list out leaders in our industry and reach out to them via email.  I started at the top; I always go big. I emailed Richard Branson.  At first the email bounced back. Then I screenshotted it and sent him a Tweet. Unsurprisingly, he has not responded.

Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 15.44.18.png

Of course, I didn’t let this discourage me. My list of leaders was long.  Right at the fore, I had Graciela Chichilnisky. I saw Graciela speak at a conference in San Jose in 2015.  She is grace and light. She’s intelligence and elegance. Graciela replied, and she agreed to be interviewed for this blog.

The hustle is real! And it’s working.

My MVP is now live. I have launched my first event, and my first tour. You can now sign up to my Slack community, my Facebook group, you can check out the landing page, Instagram and Twitter. It’s happening. The time is now.


Starting the escape…

Yesterday was the first day of my escape from corporate.

It started unexpectedly, when I woke from a dream with a new business idea which filled me with so much excitement I was practically jumping up and down as I shared it with my husband. He didn’t seem as excited, but I put that down to it being 4am.

The Escape course started quite randomly – lots of hugging and uncomfortable behaviour. But as the day progressed, I was amazed to find that so many people are ready to take this leap into entrepreneurship. What a brave bunch.

The leaders have already introduced us to a number of tools and resources. The key for me is that everything helps us to start a business that aligns with our values. Excited for what is to come and what big changes we can make.

The Worldwide Tribe at PwC’s Financial Services London Working Week

Last week was London Working Week at PwC and we saw Partners and clients descend on London from all over the world.

We were honoured to have The Worldwide Tribe as Charity of the Week and raised an amazing £2,500 for the plight of the refugees they help, more than double our target!

We sold The Worldwide Tribe’s awesome t-shirts throughout the week, and had Founders Jaz and Nils O’Hara in to talk to our guests about their work, their social media post that went viral overnight and the stories of the refugees they met along their journey.


The money we raised is going towards the wifi project which The Worldwide Tribe are running across refugee camps in Europe.  The importance of wifi is not considered by most; lack of wifi is often thought of as a First World problem.  However, the availability of free and reliable internet connection is imperative to victims fleeing their homes – it is the tenuous thread that connects them to their families and loved ones who they have left behind in their mission for a better life and security.  Such is its importance, the United Nations declared universal wifi a Sustainable Development Goal in 2015.

Besides our fundraising efforts, we offered an impressive FinTech agenda.  The photo below is of Seamus Cushley, PwC Director who leads the innovation lab in Belfast.  He is telling the audience about the uses of blockchain, the conversations we should be having with our clients and the excellent work that his team has done.



PwC Director gives evidence to House of Lords on blockchain at the Economic Affairs Select Committee

The Lord Spens sat alongside Dr B. Broadbent, deputy at the Bank of England, and a wider panel of blockchain experts to talk of the disruptive potential of blockchain to a row of Lords with minimal knowledge and understanding of the technology. 

Answering questions from Lord Darling, Lord Layard and Lord Hollick amongst others, the panel were grilled on the potential impacts of blockchain on the central bank, commercial banks, privacy and health data. Read more here: Parliament Economic Affairs Select Committee

As the panel, also including Professor Mainelli and Dr Mulligan, were grilled by the Lords, three concerns recurred: 

  1. Issue of privacy;
  2. Monopolisation;
  3. Lack of understanding. 

The Lords were forthcoming with their lack of understanding and repeated queries on the technical mechanisms of the distributed ledger technology, as Blythe Masters, who spoke to the Lords later in the committee, preferred to call blockchain. 

The committee highlighted the challenge that technologists face in bringing into the mainstream the technology behind the infamous Bitcoin. 

The full event can be watched back at this link: Committee Recording.  

Comment after the committee from Coindesk can be seen here: Coindesk article on critique from the Lords. ​

The immigrant qualifications issue

ID2020 got me thinking about immigrants, not just refugees. There’s a swathe of qualified migrants that move from the poor to the rich world every year. But when they do, their qualifications cannot be carried. 

Take my mother as an example. She left the Philippines in the 1980s, having gained qualifications as a lab technician. She loved the job. However, the U.K. gave her qualifications no recognition; they simply were not of an equivalent standing here. She went into menial work in hospitality; she had a fabulous time serving the glitterati in London’s poshest hotels but her brain was wasted on both her home country and that which she settled in. 

I can turn to the cleaner next. She recently migrated from Bulgaria, where she was a qualified counsellor. She worked with disturbed children in schools. A worthy career and one which would enrich her host country. However, again she was stripped of this qualification upon entry to the U.K. which gives her Bulgarian certificates no recognition. 

On one hand, it is great that we have an influx of migrants willing to take on low-skilled jobs which the locals have long since turned their noses up at. But it highlights the issue of brain drain, which is not taken advantage of by the host country. This untapped talent is wasted, when a simple exam in the host country would suffice to certify these individuals. The benefit to the host country would outweigh the cost and the uplift on tax contributions would in itself be a hefty payback. 

The untapped talent of migrants is a concern that not many share and the progress of mankind is hindered significantly by such wastage. I write about an Indian mathematician in an upcoming publication who demonstrates this. Stay tuned, as his story will shock and shame all of Britain. 

Birth registration

Nadja Kassam, Child Protection Specialist Birth Registration, UNICEF talks about birth registration and how it protects children. The proof of identity, a piece of paper, is a child’s right. They have shifted to action. 

Civil registration and vital statistics is a continuum and is a governance tool, enabling planning and population development. 

They have moved from laborious paper based systems to SMS messaging and technology to enable documentation. 

Story from Ukraine: 16 year old girl was enticed to Turkey to a job in a department store. She was put into a brothel and forced into prostitution. She was arrested when the brothel was raided. The power of her identity and the assistance of NGOs enabled her to prove she was underage, and escape prosecution and return home. 

The power of the birth certificate enabled one underage girl in India to approach her village leader, show her age, and escape forced marriage. The leader spoke up for her, and she continued her education rather than being married. 

The last girl/ boy is a question that Nadya Kassam raises: how do we reach the Peruvian boy in a remote community? 

There were multiple parents coming forward to claim the same child in a hurricane. To prove parentage, DNA tests had to be carried out. 

Issue of privacy is raised on how to keep each child’s data private. 

Statelessness and refugee registration

Andrew Paynter, Senior Policy Advisor, UNHCR,  says there are 10 million stateless people – a person not considered a national by any state. The effects are exclusion from education, health and ability to travel, even within a country. 

The causes are discrimination for particular ethnic minority groups, gender etc. 

The concept of statelessness and identity are different, but have much of the same impacts. Lacking documentation does not make one stateless, but it can make him/ her unrecognised to governments. 

Refugee registration and recording of bio data (finger printing, iris scanning) is a critical protection tool to inform UNHCR who the most vulnerable refugees are; the unaccompanied children etc. Bio data enables safeguards, e.g. preventing individuals from coming up twice for food. 

Issue of identity incredibly relevant to the work of UNHCR. 

Modern day slavery, prostitution and the last girl who needs an identity

Ruchira Gupta, an Indian sex trafficking abolitionist, journalist and activist talks about Lucy Liu’s important film, Meena, about the issues of modern day slavery and prostitution. The issue for Meena’s freedom was trying to get her children free; there was no proof of their identity or heritage. 

When they were finally free, they could not get access to education or healthcare – they lacked an identity. The family cannot join us at the UN Summit today as they do not have passports. They are still being socially excluded because of the issue of identity. 

Thousands of girls cannot get any services as they have no identity, and they fear approaching help as they do not want to be repatriated into the same situation of forced prostitution. 

Traffickers, slave owners, often take the identities (passports, birth certificates) from the girls they hold and keep them in forced servitude. When girls go missing, how do we ensure that every girl is accounted for? Every girl must be linked to services, but they often do not know how to use the services. 

Ruchira Gupta asks us to close our eyes and think of the last girl- in India she is a low caste, in America she is a girl from an ethnic minority, she is a teenager, she has no choice over her education, her chores or play, her diet or what she wears. That is the last girl who must be reached by identity; she is the most marginalised. 

On why Gandhi travels third class:

Because there is no fourth class. 

Importance of sustainable development goals and three themes of the SDGs

Ruchira Gupta, UN Ambassador, talks of the importance of the SDGs. This enables the world population to prosper whilst sustaining the global environment. All UN members signed up to the SDGs. 

For the UK, one key objective was to ensure action against corruption and accountability of organisations are embedded in the SDGs. 

Some 50m children are born annually without a legal identity. They are susceptible to marginalisation. These children will not get access to good schools, to justice, not even to a bank account. 

Three themes of new SDGs:

  1. Leave no one behind;
  2. Wide range of stakeholders to be involved;
  3. Technological innovation will be key.