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SBQ Feature : Joyce

March 8th, 2024

From Kenya to Scotland

Interviewing Joyce from Scotland

Joyce - Seasoned UK Black Queen

Joyce was born in Kisii in Kenya where she lived until the age of 19 when she started university in Nairobi. She got married to her husband and 40 years on, they are still going strong. The couple have two sons and a daughter.

Joyce and her three children travelled to Scotland to join her husband. She was excited to be embarking on a new adventure. Her husband was a real international student; he completed his Master's degree in Canada, undertook research in Japan and completed his PhD in Scotland. And if you think that is incredible, well, during those times, Joyce was being a mum to three, working part-time and a Master's degree student. Moving to Scotland away from family and community, Joyce was intentional about making family the centre of her world; she had to find new ways of being in the world because her husband moved to South Africa for a post-doctorate and took on a job after that. That was the start of the building of a community network. It started with attending existing community organisations, the sense of cultural identity grew stronger when she decided to start a local African organisation with other Africans in the community. This was the birth of the Fife African & Caribbeans Association, which worked with all stakeholders to support people of the African community in integrating into the community, using their skills to contribute gainfully and celebrate cultural diversity.

Journeying through and contributing to Scotland

Despite having an education degree, teaching experience, and registration with the Teaching Council in Scotland, Joyce was unable to secure a teaching job and had to settle for a teacher support role.

Joyce was surprised at the difference in attitude towards education between Scotland and Kenya. In Kenya, young people were eager to learn and valued education as the avenue to success. On the contrary, in Scotland, the attitude was different. A percentage of students there were waiting to reach the school-leaving age and would, therefore, be very disruptive in the classroom. This led to Joyce deciding that teaching was not a viable option for her. 

Joyce is an avid learner and sought out opportunities to merge the positive aspects of her culture with that of Scotland. In her encounters with fellow Africans, Joyce found that many Africans were offered jobs for which they were overqualified. She was concerned about how this would impact the younger generation, especially young males. So, her activism was birthed, and in 1994, she set up an African Caribbean centre in Fife, which was formalised in 1998. One of the initial aims of the centre was to utilise the knowledge and skills of the African males through a mentorship programme. The centre has been in operation for over a quarter of a century.

Ain't no stopping Joyce… From employee to Business Owner in Scotland!

Here's how Joyce tells it…

"I joined one of the oldest Scottish family businesses in 1997 as the Business Development Officer and over time was promoted to General Manager, then Director and shareholder". In 2016, the family wanted to sell, and she was approached to see if she wanted to buy. They wanted to leave the business in a safe pair of hands, and having worked together for an extended period they shared the same values." I am pleased to say I did a management buyout and took over the weighing company business in 2017. I am the Managing Director with my two sons are alongside me, one as company Accountant, whilst the other is the manager of sales, marketing, and Project Management. So, we are now an African /Scottish family running this old established company. I'm so proud. and want to encourage more women into business. My daughter has established herself in the legal sector.

Here are a few more snippets into the life of Joyce: 

People are the centre of Joyce's world; if she had a motto, it would be: "Everyone has value." She is never far from her educator roots, and if she were teaching in a village anywhere in the world, her five key messages to young people would include:

  1. Know what's important to you.

  2. Be focused and know what you want to achieve, but be realistic.

  3. It's important to be a good listener and be open to continuous learning.

  4. Align yourself with supportive people and believe in yourself.

  5. Always appreciate the role people play in your life and acknowledge them.

This incredible Businesswoman is making a difference in Scottish lives and society. She is a role model to others, especially young African Women, and she would like to be remembered for certain aspects of her life. Yet, what really makes her heart sing at this stage of her life is the social interactions; she loves going out and spending time with friends, and you know good food has to be involved, too. But the real jewels in her heart's crown are her four African / Scottish grandkids who keep her busy and for whom, as a grandma, she is leaving an unquestionable legacy.

We salute and honour Joyce, the incredible Businesswoman of Scotland.

This feature is part of the Seasoned UK Black Queens series celebrating Black women throughout March, a fantastic project led by Yvonne Christie. Read more here

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