Brilliance Map: Ibrahim Kamara, Co-Founder of GUAP Video Magazine
The routes into leadership for Black, Asian and ethnically diverse leaders are diverse and unique. Subsequently so are the range of skills and perspectives. Often that specificity goes unmapped. This Brilliance Map series asks leaders across the country to map their routes and share their vision of our cultural futures.
Ibrahim Kamara is a 27-year-old digital entrepreneur and co-founder of GUAP, which has grown from the world’s first video magazine to become a multi-platform youth media brand, covering all aspects of creativity and culture. GUAP produces print and online content, events and has a youth co-creation agency.
Where did your career start and what were the key turning points that impacted its development?
My career started while I was at university. I studied accounting and finance but in my final year the idea of GUAP came around. It was a hard balancing act between university and my new business. It was challenging but we made it through. After I graduated, I was in the real world with a business making no money. To support myself I found a job at Tesco on the checkouts. I worked there for three months before deciding to leave to do GUAP full time. This was the main turning point. Once I had the time to focus all my energy and efforts into GUAP, it made a big difference to the growth. What would have taken us two years to complete, we could do within two months – just because of the freedom.
What extra knowledge or insights do you feel you bring to the table as a leader of colour?
As a leader of colour – especially a Black leader – there’s so much that comes with it. Media often showcases Black people in a certain light and there are not many [Black] people behind the scenes dictating that narrative. This means when we’re the audience being spoken to, there is usually a disconnect because the people behind the scenes don’t really understand us. Being Black and young, I am the audience I’m trying to reach. This puts me in quite a unique position.
What two or three innate strengths do you find yourself most drawing on in your day- to-day work?
I think the three strengths I tend to draw on most are my ability to persevere, problem solving and an ability to get things done.
How would you define the culture you hope to create and how do you go about creating it?
I run a digital media company for emerging creatives – especially those from traditional underrepresented backgrounds. Our method for creating this space is to dedicate every day to exploring the world through digital and in real life to try to find the best up-and-coming talent. We use our available resources to document these stories, but also platform and highlight them to a bigger audience. It’s our job and we wear it with pride.
Are there other specific types of external resources that you draw on for your work?
Once I am inspired by someone, I do spend a lot of time researching them, their journey and thought processes. I look at every interview I can find on this individual and dedicate time to understanding them. I also write on paper a lot. In a world that is very digital, I find breaking down my thoughts and creative ideas really helps to bring them to life.
What do you hope culture in Britain will look and feel like in 20 years’ time?
A world where no matter who you are, your background, sexual orientation, colour … you will be accepted and be able to live freely. I don’t think we are completely there yet, but we are steering towards that direction now, so I hope in 20 years’ time it would be the norm. I also hope we will see the influence of this generation. There are so many young people using the internet to make the most outlandish careers for themselves. I hope this inspires the next generation and we have a culture where creativity and entrepreneurship are the norm within our communities.