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Connecting Africa’s Skilled Professionals
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ReConnect Africa is a unique website and online magazine for the African professional in the Diaspora. Packed with essential information about careers, business and jobs, ReConnect Africa keeps you connected to the best of Africa.

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I was educated at……

Primary school in Lagos, Nigeria; secondary and university (King’s College University of London) and Masters in the UK.

For many years, Simi has been simply desperate to improve the products available for women and she has had many ideas. In 2003, she finally developed one of her favourite ideas: a unique type of hair extensions. To market and sell NewHair™ and her future inventions, Simi set up Imiis Limited. Four months later, in January 2004, reputable UK shops and salons including Selfridges were selling her revolutionary ‘NewHair™’ (www.newhairwigs.net) and by October 2004, it was available in the US and Canada from exclusive licensee Especially Yours.

Heralded as ‘a new invention set to take the hairdressing world by storm’ by industry-leading magazine Black Beauty & Hair, NewHair™ has been an overnight success amongst customers, hair and beauty experts, the media, celebrities and retailers alike. It has already won six major awards including ‘European Business 2004' from the European Federation of Black Women Business Owners, ‘Top Ten British Female Inventor/Innovator 2005’, ‘Best Start-Up 2005’ London African Caribbean Entrepreneurs Award and a ‘Top Ten Pan-African Women’s Inventor/Innovator 2005' award from The Pan-African Women’s Inventors & Innovators Network, while Simi was a finalist for the 'Women in Business' Start-ups 2005 award and the 'International Business Woman of the Year' 2005 award.

Described by PR Week as “having an obvious aptitude for PR”, Simi Belo has over fourteen years experience in PR and marketing. Prior to setting up Imiis Limited, Simi ran her own PR consultancy Guru PR Ltd.

Simi is an active member of many networks including The African Caribbean Business Network and The Global Women’s Inventors & Innovators Network. She also assists a variety of charities and trusts, for instance Young Enterprise London, who focus on encouraging entrepreneurialism amongst the youth; and mentors a start-up company through the Black Business Brokerage programme run by FullEmploy.

My first job was……

... Regional Organiser, London and the North Home Counties, for LEPRA, the charity for the relief of leprosy. It was an extremely challenging fund raising, marketing and events management role. I used to make presentations in assemblies at schools, to inform the pupils that leprosy still existed, and every penny counted. And I had to organise street collections too – I’m still an expert at shaking a collection tin! 

What I do now is……

… Run an inventions company called Imiis Limited. We’ve launched one invention so far, the award-winning NewHair® - a new type of wig/hair extensions, designed specifically for Black women. Something no self-respecting Black woman should leave home without. Check out www.newhairwigs.net. My role is inventing, new business development and marketing. I recently secured an arrangement with a distributor for Southern Africa (Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa and Zambia), they launched on 21 July, and so far so good. I am desperately trying to find a suitable business partner for West Africa – licensee or distributor.

What I learned along the way is……

…‘Make whatever you want happen; after all, the only regrets you should have in life are things that you’ve not done, not things you’ve done.’ ‘You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.’ ‘Life is what happens whilst you are too busy planning or dreaming.’ ‘Don’t ask, don’t get.’ And here are two I made up myself: ‘Rules made by man were made to be broken by woman’, and ‘If it is important to you, leave your pride at the door.’

My greatest influence has been……

…. My parents for their guidance, determination and capacity for hard work. My ex-boss, Al King for teaching me the importance of strategy.

The best advice I ever received is……

… ‘Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn.’ If you approach life like that, then the concept of failure will be alien to you. And without the fear of failure, the sky’s the limit!

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