Yvonne Thompson CBE

Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE is a serial entrepreneur. For over 30 years, she ran her own  company, ASAP Communications, the first of its kind to dedicate itself to providing PR services to black music artists in the early 1980s. During most of this time she campaigned for minorities, small business owners and closest to her heart, race and women’s equality in the workplace, especially the boardroom. Having spent nearly half that time being the only woman on a board with nine men, at Choice FM (the UK’s first legal black music radio station, now Capital Xtra), and several other boards in both public and private sectors, she experienced at first-hand how lonely being at the top can be for a woman.

As a result of the isolation she felt as the lone woman and the rarity of women occupying these positions she started raising awareness of the lack of women on boards. At the end of 2014, her efforts culminated with the publishing of her first book 7 Traits of Highly Successful Women on Boards, further moving on the gender equality conversation in the boardroom. 

Her most roles include chairing the events committee for the Women's Diplomatic Service Network, and most recently being appointed to the Economics Honours Committee where she is committed to help in their campaign to increase nominations from  minorities and women.


Dotun Adebayo, MBE

Dotun Adebayo MBE, grew up in Tottenham, where he fell in love with radio so much that he took the bus 171 to Bush House at the age of 12 and convinced the producers of Network Africa to use him as a contributor. He won a scholarship to read Scandinavian literature at Stockholm's University at 18 and within a year had a weekly feature on Eldorado Max, Swedish Radio's P3 channel. Meanwhile he pursued a career as a music journalist writing for the music and national papers in Britain (Time Out, NME, The Guardian, News of the World, The Voice, Evening Standard and The Sun).

In 1992 he founded the book publisher The X Press and had an instant bestseller with his first title 'Yardie'. The BBC later turned one of his most popular books, Baby Father, into a twelve part television series. 

Dotun has presented continuously on BBC London since 1993, and has had his own programme on BBC Radio 5 Live for nine years. He currently presents Up All Night for the network four times a week. He was awarded a MBE for 'services to the arts' in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 2009. On January 20, 2010, he launched the 24-hour black-interest news channel Colourtelly (www.colourtelly.tv).


Randa Swaid

Randa Swaid née Randa Sahid Mohamed is a Sierra Leonean business woman and philanthropist, born in Sierra Leone of mixed Sierra Leonean and Lebanese parentage.  


She attended Murraydeen Preparatory School in Freetown, Sierra Leone where she was a founding pupil, and Annie Walsh School for Girls, before being sent to England to complete her education. She was accepted by the world-famous St Edmunds College, Oxford University to read Politics, Philosophy and Economics, but bowed to family pressure and instead joined her brothers at California State University, where she graduated Magna cum Lauda BSc Finance.

After college she discovered a passion for interior design and in 2004 opened City Plaza – Sierra Leone’s first interiors and design retail outlet.  The shop provided an avenue for Randa’s particular combination of creativity and business acumen and has gone from strength to strength.  Her next business venture – Swiss Spirit Hotel - confirmed her position as a trail blazer in Sierra Leone’s business community.  The hotel, which is Sierra Leone’s first branded boutique hotel, opened in 2014 and has already established a reputation for its high-end design ethos and excellent service.   Building on the success of Swiss Spirit and cementing her reputation for thinking outside the box, Randa embarked upon a new venture – Freetown’s first short-let fully-serviced luxury apartments.  Eighteen studios have been completed and she is presently working on an additional 18 one-bedroom flats.

Randa’s upbringing instilled in her a strong sense of duty and a deep love for Sierra Leone.  In 2010, her desire to contribute something more to her country resulted in Friends of Education Salone (FoESL).  The charity, which was initially inspired by Randa’s childhood ties to Tokeh Beach, funds educational projects in Sierra Leone.  FoESL’s innovative fundraising ventures include Sierra Leone’s best-loved day out – the Tokeh Beach Regatta, as well as newer but equally successful initiatives like the Masquerade Ball at Radisson Blu Mammy Yoko.  The charity is entirely run by volunteers and all money raised goes directly to school construction projects and educational resources.  Beneficiaries to date include Tokeh School, Binkolo Catholic Secondary School, Cardiff Community School and York Secondary School amongst others.

She is well-known for generously mentoring Sierra Leone’s up and coming business-women, as well as her support for other charitable causes.  She is married to Sierra Leonean businessman – Jihad Swaid, has two children and juggles her business, social and charitable interests alongside a happy and busy family life.  

Hussine Yilla

​With academic qualifications in Law and an MBA in International Business, Hussine has dedicated most of her working career to supporting international firms venturing and operating in West African markets.

Her professional experience spans over ten years and focuses on investment promotion, local economic development, SME development as well as designing and implementing social investment programmes across various sectors; a large part of which has been centered on improving livelihoods and job creation.

Currently Hussine is working as a private sector development advisor.  She specialises in supporting international donor agencies and non-governmental organisations align their development agendas with national public policy priorities and private sector corporate social responsibility strategies, in order to promote inclusive and sustainable growth.

Hussine has British and Sierra Leonean nationality and lives in Sierra Leone.

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