A second-year student at Swansea University has used lockdown to turn her podcast venture into a fully functioning business which helps young people develop their confidence skills.
19-year-old Saadia Abubaker, who studies Psychology and Sociology at Swansea University, developed Saadia Speaks from a podcast of the same name to provide motivational, confidence-building workshops to young people. Through a range of career events, panel discussions and one-on-one consultations hosted in conjunction with organisations and charities including Women After Greatness, Mind and Digilearning, Saadia aims to inspire Wales’ younger generation to pave their own paths.
In recent months, Saadia Speaks has seen the 19-year-old host five workshops on behalf of charities and organisations, produce the podcast ‘Youth Voices’ with the Rio Ferdinand Foundation as part of their United Against Racism campaign, and run open discussion events in schools across the UK, inspiring the generations of tomorrow.
Born in Sudan before moving to Swansea in 2004, Saadia recognised her childhood was full of opportunities and great experiences. But aware that this is not the case for many young people, Saadia launched Saadia Speaks with a sole mission of helping fellow young people to have more belief in themselves.
Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said:
“Our ambition is to make Wales a higher skilled and higher wage economy, where more young people feel confident in planning their future here.
“Key to this is fostering a culture which prioritises entrepreneurship. This will help us retain our graduates and talent in Wales, with support for start-ups and strong links between universities and businesses.
“I am delighted to hear of Saadia’s success. She has identified a clear opportunity to apply her academic knowledge, her passion and experiences to inspire other young people.
“This is the sort of entrepreneurial flair we want to encourage through our ambitious new Young Person’s Guarantee, and I’m delighted Saadia was able to access the support she needed from Swansea University and Big Ideas Wales to make her vision a reality.”
Saadia said: “I commonly find myself chatting to 14–24-year-old individuals who are looking for that initial spark and first steps of inspiration to catapult them into their dreamed futures. By sharing my own experiences, the stories of other inspiring people, and offering fundamental advice on leadership, creativity and confidence, I can help others have the opportunities I have had. It’s important that young people make their own future and don’t just wait for an opportunity to knock.”
Saadia has also hosted open discussions regarding racial inequality and mental health on behalf of charities who want to facilitate wider awareness and discussions on key, integral topics within the communities they operate in.
Discussing the impact of launching a business during lockdown, Saadia said: “Saadia Speaks has really thrived during lockdown. Being solely online and hosting virtual events has helped to spread the word about my business among different clients and communities and has supported me in reaching out for opportunities. It’s also so much easier to run a business virtually – I can be on campus and host a workshop in between lectures.”
After attending a Big Ideas Wales virtual business workshop in June, Saadia was contacted by Big Ideas Wales who informed her of Big Ideas Wales programmes that can help her build her business. Saadia was soon paired up with her Big Ideas Wales Business Adviser Natalie Duckett, who encouraged Saadia to monetise her business and broaden her connections. With the support of Big Ideas Wales and her Business Adviser, Saadia has turned Saadia Speaks from a voluntary organisation into a monetised business, marked this month by Saadia’s first paid event.
She continued: “The simplified business advice from Big Ideas Wales and their encouragement has been pivotal in helping Saadia Speaks grow into the business it is today. I’ve been given advice on how to run a business, insurance, website construction, tone of voice and so much more – all of which I know are vital to a successful business and online presence.”
In the months to come, Saadia hopes to use the support of Big Ideas Wales to build up to hosting a large-scale conference to connect all the people she’s engaged with so far in one place.
Natalie Duckett, Business Adviser at Big Ideas Wales said: “Saadia is the perfect example of how you can utilise what’s at your fingertips, having taken her own experiences and awareness and moulding this into a public speaking business. Saadia came to us with a passion for inspiring and guiding others but didn’t shy away from receiving the support and guidance she needed herself to build Saadia Speaks. Saadia has a unique ability to understand the concerns and needs of others and is the perfect person to utilise this gift and support others in achieving their dreams.”
Swansea University Enterprise Officer, Kelly Jordan said: “It is great to see students like Saadia who are not only paving the way for their own future but making it their sole mission to educate and inspire those around them while igniting confidence in herself and others. I am sure Saadia will go on to achieve great things in the future, with Saadia Speaks being a true representation of her hard work and determination.
Saadia started her business with the help of Big Ideas Wales, part of the Business Wales support to entrepreneurship in Wales. The service is aimed at anyone between the age of 5 and 25 who wants to develop a business idea, including students and graduates, as part of the Welsh Government’s commitment to the Young Person’s Guarantee.