Melinda Belle, with an ever-present smile, stepped out in faith seven years ago to help others with their finances. (Picture by Christoff Griffith.)
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If one was asked to come up with an equation to show who Melinda Belle is, it could go something like this: financial and budgeting advisor + blogger x author + fashionista = a woman who is happy in her own skin.
Believe it or not, the 36-year-old founder and managing director of Astrape Finance, a financial company offering “financial stability and prosperity through education, sound planning and advice”, wanted to be a 3D animator.
“I was always fascinated with computers but that has nothing to do with finance,” she told Easy during a laughter-filled interview on a recent, sunny weekday morning.
“I have an associate degree from [Barbados] Community College in computer studies. Then I did a double major in computer science and management at the University of the West Indies, but my job was in accounting and I fell in love with accounting. I didn’t think I would, but I actually did.”
After a couple of years, she “transitioned” to an offshore bank, worked there for five years, and jumped to start her own business.
Melinda listened to the whispers in her head that couldn’t be quelled, overcame the fears, doubts and dissenting voices who questioned her ability because she was young, to remain in business for seven years.
“I started Astrape Finance because I would have seen first-hand how the financial crises would have affected people; not knowing the best decisions to make and going bull-headed into stuff. I figured there was a niche because people needed to know how to manage their money. I don’t think there was a Caribbean voice really, or more likely a Barbadian voice, so I took the risk from March 1, 2012 to start this.
“I had to learn how to be a businesswoman because transitioning from being an employee to being a business owner is a totally different story altogether. The day after I left the offshore bank, it was me, myself and I, and I was panicking a little, ‘cause I was alone. Then it hit me that it was really up to me to make the business happen.
“Initially, in the first couple of years, I got a comment, ‘You’re young, you shouldn’t be doing this. You should consider getting experience first and then actually get into this’. I heard everything she said, but I was keeping up-to-date with everything, getting more knowledgeable, doing courses, making myself more visible.”
As a “financial architect and female empowerment leader,” Melinda was determined to chart her path focusing on developing solutions that could help people make better decisions to better their lives. (GBM)
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