Young entrepreneur working to make a difference
By Gibron Rahim
ENTREPRENEURSHIP is about more than business. While it is true that their accomplishments can inspire those following in their footsteps, entrepreneurs can also have a more direct impact on the lives of the people around them. Natalya Thomas is a young entrepreneur who is trying to make a difference by empowering young people.
Natalya is the founder of AOne Events. She is currently one of the finalists in this year’s Scotiabank Vision Achiever Programme Business Plan competition. She related to the Pepperpot Magazine that she was the Executive Operations Coordinator of Miss World Guyana, as well as a fashion designer, before starting AOne Events. “Passion, determination and many sleepless nights got AOne Events to this point,” Natalya said. “Ever since I was a child, I loved being creative and bringing people together and making them happy,” she recalled. “I was often given the responsibility of planning or helping my family members plan their events.”
At that point in time, Natalya was not yet sure of the path her life would take. “But one thing that has been constant throughout my life is my passion for creating unique things that would leave me in awe from time to time,” related Natalya. She explained that she originally started AOne Events on a part-time basis as she was still with the Miss World Guyana organisation at the time. She would plan events for family friends and other persons. After receiving good reviews for the events she had planned, as well as motivation from her mother, family and friends, Natalya decided to branch out and officially to start her own business.
AOne Events had its official start in October 2016. Natalya related that the events she plans include birthday parties, weddings, anniversaries, retreats, bridal showers, graduations and large and small festivals. She is also notably the originator and director of the popular Kidsfest 592.
Being part of this year’s Scotiabank Vision Achiever Programme Business Plan competition is very meaningful to Natalya. “It’s a great platform to, not only put myself out there, but to be a part of the great training that ActionCOACH actually provides,” she explained. “I’ve learnt a lot from those classes.” She noted that the classes were held for a two-month period during which she learned much about managing and improving her business overall. “[That is what] I will take away the most from the whole competition, win or lose.”
At the same time, Natalya acknowledged that winning the competition would mean a lot to her as well. She noted that the winnings from the competition would act as a stepping stone to do greater things with AOne Events.
Empowering children is a great part of Natalya’s focus. “I have a great love for children,” she said emphatically. The reduction of poverty is another of her focuses. “I intend to use my business as a support base for families through the Kidsfest initiative,” Natalya stated. “And it’s not just for girls, it’s for children of all ages” she pointed out. Doing so she believes will aid her in accomplishing two long-term goals – her professional goal of creating national, regional and global awareness of her business and her personal goal of assisting families who are less fortunate.
One of the greatest ways to empower children is through education, according to Natalya. “It’s my belief that an education is the key to all successes in life,” she said. She noted that, without an education, it is more difficult to acquire a proper job and create a successful life for oneself and one’s family. It is very important to have a good education, she said, “so that you can be able to accomplish and work for what you want and be successful in your own right.”
As an entrepreneur, Natalya is keenly aware of the role that a business can play in a community. “A business can play a positive role in the community because then there is job creation and there are opportunities to learn from the business,” she said. “It can be a motivating factor and it can actually help to develop the community because with more traffic coming to that community it can open a market for other small businesses to be developed.”
Natalya has both short term and long term goals in mind for herself and AOne Events. She is currently working on her showroom. “This I believe will lead to an increase in sales in that prospective clients will be given a visual of what their event can possibly have and look like,” she stated. She also noted that she is in the planning phase for next year’s third annual Kidsfest 592. She explained, “For next year it’s set to have more attractions and events to boost awareness of the business and also to generate further cash flow for growth and to help to eradicate poverty in some context.”