Tamla Oates-Forney invests in the future of young women of color

Tamla Oates-Forney (Photo provided)

TOFi™ International is a unique investment firm dedicated to investing in women and girls of color. The company is quite unique as its focus is to impact the future in a positive way by assisting women and girls to expand their reach, develop the essential skills, and acquire the necessary platforms to maintain longevity in their respective industries. Each division of the company was carefully developed to provide complimentary services and resources to cultivate the community of women and girls it seeks to serve.

On Nov. 4, 2017, TOFi™ International will present the inaugural HERs OWNly™ Pitch Contest in Atlanta. The event will take place at one of Atlanta’s premier venues, The Riverside EpiCenter, located at 135 Riverside Parkway in Austell, Georgia. The HERs OWNly™ Pitch Contest, inclusive of HERs OWNly JR™ ages 6–18 and HERs OWNlyTM, ages 19 and over, will provide women and girls of color business owners with the opportunity to present their breakthrough business concepts to some of the most powerful and influential business figures in the nation.

Entrepreneurs will present in front of judges, investors, and a live audience. Through the pitch contest, TOFi™ International will create a launch pad that will enable women and girls of color to expand their ideas. Contestants will be selected based on their business ideas, skills, background, ability to execute, and the likelihood that investors can achieve a positive return on investment and have an impact on their success and growth. TOFi™ International recently announced Zandra Cunningham, CEO of Zandra Beauty, as the ambassador for the HERs OWNly JR™ segment and Swaddy Martin, the founder of YSWARA, as the ambassador of HERS OWNly™ segment.

Read what founder Tamla Oates-Forney has to say about the competition and learn more about the objectives of TOFi™ International, as underscored by the HERs OWNly™ Pitch Contest, whose mission is to impact the future, one woman (of color) at a time through fiscal investments, thought leadership and philanthropic endeavors.

What is your day-to-day like at work?
Like most, there is no typical day at TOFiTMInternational. Our days are filled with late-night calls, weekend strategy sessions, numerous emails/text, and tons of enthusiasm, energy, and optimism about the overwhelming response we’ve received as we prepare for our first HERs OWNlyTM Pitch Contest where we will award up to $50,000 in funding and professional services to girls/women of color to help with their entrepreneurial efforts.

What inspires you to show up at work every day?
Bringing out the best in people, was one of the things that motivated me throughout my life and is a key cornerstone of TOFiTM International. My life, both professionally and personally, is a role model of what can be done via support, visibility, access, intervention and sponsorship. When I am able to coach and inspire someone to achieve more than they thought they were capable of — and it positively impacts individuals and our community … it’s a trifecta kind of day.

How did you determine your career path?
My passion for people.

What industries connect to your career choice?
All industries. For any business or organization to be successful, you need people and financial resources. I am extremely passionate about giving back and creating opportunities for others to succeed. TOFiTMand the HERs OWNlyTM Pitch Contest are testaments of my commitment and passion.

Describe the skills that will be essential to future business leader and innovators.
The ability to follow as much as lead; ability to be a life-long learner; inquisitive … always looking for a better way via people, processes, systems, and technologies; humility; transparency; candor.

Describe how you set goals and evaluate your success.
My goal setting method involves setting stretch, but realistic goals on an annual basis. What has really been the key to my success in achieving my goals is sharing my goals with others. It has and continues to hold me accountable. For example, I set a goal of running 1,000 days straight (without taking one day off) … I declared this goal to not only my running mates but to the world on FB and posted my runs every single day It was not easy, and there were days when I didn’t want to do it … but because people were watching/the world was watching, I didn’t want to let them down by not honoring my commitment to myself and to them! I not only accomplished the goal but exceeded it by eight days.

Name your favorite role models for success in two different industries?
Other than my *mother, who owns her own hair salon, Oprah Winfrey, (TV/Entertainment) is my favorite role model … for her drive, determination, tenacity, and passion for paying it forward.

My mother was a single mother who had her first child at 15 years of age, did not go to college, worked 2 (sometimes three) jobs to make ends meet and saved to open her own hair salon. Despite obstacles, a decline in the economy, etc. she has owned and operated her own salon for over 30 years.

Names three books that changed how you saw life that you would recommend to others.
• The Bible
Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
Exponential Living by Sheri Riley

Describe why lifelong learning is important to you.
The world is constantly changing and so are people. Lifelong learning is the key to survival and relevance. No one knows everything, and until such time it happens, we all must continue learning.

Describe the voice of success that you hear in your head.
My mother telling me that there is nothing I can’t do and quoting Philippians 4:13

Community success based on what you do in the community means what to you.
I live by “To Whom Much Is Given, Much Shall Be Required” and TOFiTM International represents just that. I have been very fortunate in my professional and personal life, but to me, it means very little if I can’t use my success as a platform to help others.

What role does technology play in your daily life?
Technology has taken over my life. I am glued to my smart phone and tablet as we finalize details for our HERs OWNlyTM Pitch contest.

What software or technology tools have made the biggest difference in your life?
• My tablets (I have three) and several apps
• Crowd sourcing and data intelligence software
• Life Convenience Software – mobile banking; e-commerce platforms

Define your personal culture.
I would define myself as a very humble and selfless individual who is committed to working tirelessly to do my part in leaving this world better than I found it.

Adjectives that have been used often to describe me include: intelligent, hard-working, giving, selfless, passionate and compassionate.

How does music impact and influence you?
• Gospel … the message of hope and healing
• R&B … the clean type w/ inspirational lyrics and beats
• Jazz … soothing and relaxing

Describe your favorite vacation spot.
A place full of tranquility surrounded by a body of water

If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
Equality amongst inequality. Meaning that while no two people are the same, we all should be given the same/equal opportunity to do and be whatever it is we want to do/be.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
The ability to decompress.

For more information about TOFi™ International, visit www.tofiinternational.com. For vendor information, please email [email protected]

Yvette Caslin
Yvette Caslin

I'm a writer, image architect & significance marketer. Love photojournalism, creative expression & originality.

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