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“I’ve always cut out the red tape. We don’t have long, ineffective meetings: we crack on” in these pubs, including donations from famous people and MPs, so the chain got great publicity, then we distributed these to townships in South Africa in time for the World Cup. We then took 10 pub managers from the company out to Cape Town to meet the kids they’d helped. It was brilliant. They’d never experienced anything like it. We encourage this handson approach; we don’t want companies just to hand us an oversized cheque.”

From top: Shade Aid, through which unwanted sunglasses are given new homes in developing countries; the Little Learners project, encouraging disadvantaged youngsters to be excited by reading

various collections and fundraisers at school. “I guess that kind of evolved into what I’m doing now,” she says. “I struggled with the idea that you spend most of your life working, as I wanted to be able to do something good with most of my time. The solution was to find a job that would allow me to do that.” Sparkes’ first client was the owner of a large pub group where she had worked part-time. After eventually persuading him to employ her, he was sold on her business model, and is still a client today. “We did a fantastic project with the pub group for the last World Cup,” she says. “They wanted to promote their showing the football on TV, but that’s not interesting to the press. Instead, we came up with Project Fair Play, which asked people to donate unwanted football shirts to kids in Africa. We got 20,000 shirts collected 64



In good company Katherine Sparkes was recognised one of Junior Chamber International’s Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World in 2012, alongside other young achievers including: Bobby Kensah, UK After a tough upbringing, Kensah devotes his time to tackling youth issues including knife crime, bullying and gang involvement. He also established the Phase One Network to help disadvantaged young people find work. Tendai Concilia Wenyika, Zimbabwe Social activist Wenyika is the founder of both the Zimbabwe Young Women’s Network and the Zimbabwe Entrepreneurs Youth Association, inspiring young people to become community activists and fight for their voices to be heard. Aisling Neary, Ireland Nurse Neary uses her medical skill around the world, reaching the remote and underprivileged. She also raised the money to build the first school in an impoverished Ghanaian village.

www.flamingo-creative.co.uk www.jci.cc the red bulletin

Additional photography: Flamingo Creative (3)

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any of Sparkes’ clients have received awards for their involvement in CSR, and last year, she herself was honoured, when she was recognised by Junior Chamber International, a voluntary organisation for young people effecting positive change. With past members including Al Gore and John F Kennedy, an award from JCI is a highprofile accolade. They named Sparkes one of their Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World for her work in CSR and community action. “It was a huge award to get,” she says. “I never thought I’d be chosen. It was really exciting going out to Taipei for the awards ceremony, and it was inspiring to spend time with the other winners and share ideas. A great experience.” Sparkes may now have an international award, an office in Bristol, five members of staff and up to 20 freelancers working for her at any one time, but, 10 years on, her general business philosophy hasn’t changed. “I still don’t have a business plan,” she laughs. “Any plan I make is redundant the following week. I think a lot of it is about gut instinct and being quick to adapt and evolve. We can shrink and grow as needed, and I’ve always cut out the red tape. We don’t mess about with long, ineffective meetings: we crack on. It’s about having an impact, planting a seed with these companies that will hopefully grow.” With her business thriving, Sparkes is no longer a jack of all trades, but a master of one. All she needs to do now is nail that front crawl.

Profile for Red Bull Media House

The Red Bulletin May 2013 - UK  

The world’s best bike trails. From Canada to Asia, the best mountain biking location, chosen by pros.

The Red Bulletin May 2013 - UK  

The world’s best bike trails. From Canada to Asia, the best mountain biking location, chosen by pros.