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University graduate sets up social network after early life tragedy

University graduate sets up social network after early life tragedy

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A Digital Technology graduate who overcame tragedy in his early life has founded his own social network to empower young people and encourage collaboration.

Ivan Kayima graduated from the University in 2013 with First Class Honours, after experiencing difficult situations in his life such as the passing of his father and being made homeless at a young age with his mother and sister.

The determination and perseverance of his mother inspired Ivan to make the most out of life, which developed his confidence and allowed him to realise that it is much better to stand out than to fit in.

Ivan’s passion for digital technology and his drive to create positive influences, motivated him to start a crowdfunder campaign with his friend from University, Richard Skene, and raise funds to create the collaborative network, Spiela. The campaign successfully allowed work to begin on creating an app that provides opportunities for careers and collaboration.

Ivan and Richard want those who may come from less supportive backgrounds to have a safe space to engage and network with others, covering a diverse range of topics including business and employment, education, faith, culture and politics.

Ivan said: “I created Spiela as a network to empower young people, to inspire conversation, to create communities, to push back a lack of opportunities that still hinder so many. I wanted to build a platform where people could connect with one another but I was clueless where to start.

“I applied for the New Entrepreneurs Foundation where I landed a placement with Plentific, an online home services marketplace. Being surrounded by entrepreneurs boosted my self-confidence, boosted my self-belief and perhaps most importantly, showed that anyone from any background can be successful in leading their own business.”

While work on the Spiela app was happening, the team curated a string of live events to allow potential users to get a taste of what is to come. Guests such as EastEnders actress Bunmi Mojeku, Labour Senior Policy Advisor Andrew Fisher, professional footballer Simeon Jackson and UK rapper Afrikan Boi have attended a string of intimate Q&As, giving people the chance to gain an insightful glimpse into careers and fields where information has been closed off for too long.

Spiela is now finally ready for launch. It is currently being released to a small amount of people with the view of a public launch in the summer.

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