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I have my first Trustee Meeting coming up, which means I need to spend the next week getting all my paperwork in order. None of my potential Trustees have signed on the dotted line – I need to convince them that we can pull this one off. So far, we are a team of four: Me, our FD Jerry, Fraser and Michelle.
Fraser is a wonderful charity lawyer at Stone King Sewell LLP. I met him out in Uganda while we were both painting a school for Soft Power Education, and he is as passionate about the country as I am. His support and legal advice have been invaluable, and he’s currently writing our Charity application form.
Michelle is our Director of Fundraising and is currently writing our fundraising strategy. She came out to Zambia on a fact-finding mission with me in May 2008. Unfortunately, she had to leave after 2 weeks and I spent another 6 weeks exploring opportunities in Zambia and Uganda. After conducting an in-depth situational analysis of both countries, we concluded that there is a far greater need for a babies’ home in Uganda. Michelle has a heart of gold and I am very lucky to have her on my team.
Today Chris explained all I needed to know about finance. Ultimately the lesson Chris was teaching me was Finance can make or break an organisation so finding a Financial Director (FD) went to the top of my to-do list.
Within 2 hours I was pitching my idea to Jerry Davison, MD of the Mill Consultancy. Jerry is an incredibly experienced FD, after working for PWC, Deloitte, he ran StageCoach for 6 years in Malawi and now runs his own Consultancy company. Jerry’s involvement was critical to the success of the project and I had one shot to win him over.
I am very passionate and I can talk for hours (and hours) about my project but suddenly my nerves got the better of me and halfway through, I felt I had to stop and tell him how badly I thought it was going. He told me how much he loved Africa which immediately put me at ease. At the end of my second attempt, he told me he thought it was a brilliant idea and he came on board immediately. I couldn’t believe it – this was my first ever (intentional) pitch and it worked.
I cannot tell you how relieved I am. Once I have put together my cost report Jerry will write our 5 year financials, profit and loss, cash flow and balance sheets. I cannot begin to describe my relief. In the words of Anneka Rice…Jerry, you are a STAR!
Today I spent the day working out a strategy for my business plan, with the help of Chris Ingram, a friend who has taken a week off work to support me. We completely plastered his living room with post-it notes, and it showed me just what a massive undertaking this project is – and how very lucky I am to have inspiring people around me to help me along the way. Chris put me in touch with his HR manager, Toby Lott, and we chatted for hours about my life – a strange combination of working on reality TV and working with orphans. While we chatted, I was reminded of the show that started my own journey into TV – Challenge Anneka.
Remember the episode when Anneka and her sparkly jumpsuit went out to a Romanian orphanage? This powerful piece of film inspired thousands of people to support Romania and make a difference to the children’s’ lives. TV can be a very powerful tool for social change and I went into it wanting to make a difference. Having worked on shows that have engaged audiences of millions, I wanted to use the power of the media to create a connection so people would support us because they wanted to change lives, and not out of a sense of guilt.
This idea has been a dream of mine now for two years, but I kept stalling because I was uncomfortable with the idea of putting myself in front of the camera. I have spent years producing TV and very rarely put myself out there. I have come to realise I have nothing to fear because this dream of building a home for babies is not just my project. It is all of ours.
So I’ve found myself back in (none-too-sunny) London with high hopes of setting up the Charity. My first port of call is my former employers, Endemol UK, the creative brains behind Big Brother and Deal or No Deal. I’m here to pitch my idea to Richard Osman, the Creative Director. I’d love to get them involved and I think the meeting went well. Now all I can do is cross my fingers and hope for the best.
But do you ever think fate sometimes steps in when you need it most? As I headed out of my meeting, I stood waiting for the lift alongside a well-dressed lady who looked somewhat familiar. We got chatting over her nice tan, and I went on to tell her that I should have one, too, as I’d been in Africa for 8 weeks but there’s not much time for sunbathing when working with orphans. She asked me what I’d been doing and I went on to outline my idea as we went down five floors.
What I didn’t realise was I was pitching to the formidable Deborah Meaden of Dragons’ Den fame, and I’d unintentionally performed a classic ‘Elevator Pitch’. I told her I needed to raise £1 million in 6 months and people had told me it was impossible – but I thought it was do-able. At around the second floor, the penny dropped and I realised who she was. She assured me that, with passion and determination, anything was possible. She also said she’d be interested in finding out more!
I sent the proposal off and will follow it off as soon as I have all the documents and experts on board. I really hope she remembers me.