Entrepreneurial journeys: Valentina Hynes

Entrepreneur Valentina is the CEO of SVH Inc, a community interest company who work to boost wellbeing and mental health through training and away day experiences.


SVH Inc. stands for Strong Vibrant, Happy and Incorporated. SVH Inc fosters wellbeing and happiness at work through mental health training and workshops, speaking engagements and away day experiences.

“SVH Inc. CIC was born out of a personal conviction to address the pervasive issue of workplace stress and its consequent impact on mental health and well-being. Founded in 2019, alongside my husband, in the wake of our own challenging experiences with work-related stress, SVH Inc. has evolved into a pioneering force within the realm of workplace wellbeing.

As a Community Interest Company, our mission is to foster Strong Vibrant Happy and Incorporated communities/workplaces across Yorkshire and the broader UK community. Our services are meticulously designed to enhance the employee experience, placing a strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and overall happiness at work.

Our offerings include mental health first aid training, bespoke away day experiences, and engaging speaking engagements. We provide the little and big things that make all the difference in fostering a wellbeing focused culture.

SVH Inc. CIC has a strong passionate executive team made up of myself and three other directors, each bringing a unique blend of expertise and dedication to our collective vision. It is a majority female and Black led organisation.

SVH Inc. CIC is at a pivotal stage of reinforcing our foundations while actively pursuing growth opportunities. Our aim is not just to expand our footprint but to make a significant, measurable difference in the well-being of workplaces across the UK. We are actively working to broaden our network of collaborations with organisations and stakeholders who share our vision for improved workplace wellbeing. We are also constantly refining our service delivery to ensure that it meets the evolving needs of our clients and has a lasting impact on their employees' wellbeing.

Behind the scenes, our executive team is focused on sustainability and scalability. This involves not only securing funding and resources to support our growth but also investing in our team's development to maintain the high quality of our offerings. We are leveraging technology and innovation to enhance our operational efficiency and reach, ensuring that our interventions are accessible to a wider audience."

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Valentina's Journey

“I embarked on my entrepreneurial journey in 2005 as a university student, I started with crafting beaded jewellery, quickly identifying and catering to a niche market of bankers. This venture marked the beginning of my business acumen, adapting to market trends by transitioning to costume jewellery and establishing a significant presence in jewellery markets and salons.

My post-university years saw me diving into marketing and business development, enriching my expertise and setting the stage for founding V14 Ventures in 2010. Specialising in event ushering and experiential marketing, I garnered prestigious clients and recognition for my social responsibility efforts, including an award from the Lagos State Government and an Associate Fellowship from The Royal Commonwealth Society.

In 2019, my entrepreneurial path took a heartfelt turn with the inception of YOLO Dance, aimed at strengthening mother-child bonds through dance, and the co-founding of SVH Inc., born from personal trials with work-related stress. These ventures not only showcased my resilience but also my dedication to community well-being, earning me the Business Woman of The Year Award, WISE100 Top 100 Women Social Entrepreneurs and other prestigious nominations. Each step of my journey reflects a commitment to innovation, social impact, and a relentless pursuit of positive community change.”


“Personally, my biggest challenge was my husband experiencing a work-stress induced heart attack which gave us first hand experience of the ripple effects of toxic work cultures and poor mental health/wellbeing on individuals, families, communities, and countries. It doesn’t end with one person. This challenge led to another big challenge, an immigration battle with the Home Office for my right to stay in the UK and live a family life with my British husband and son. 

When I first started YOLO Dance, my initial UK social enterprise, it was in response to my newborn baby's need to be constantly held and swayed, my own need to reconnect with dance as a means to rediscover myself, and a desire to build a community of like-minded mothers facing similar experiences. My baby was 6 weeks old when I launched the enterprise, and I was still, technically, a newcomer—an immigrant—in the Yorkshire community. Having won our battle with the Home Office largely through the power of social media, I leveraged the same platforms as my marketing strategy to attract the community I needed. I also went door-to-door, engaging local businesses for support through vouchers, which my clients could win in a monthly draw and which also helped raise funds for local charities.

I learned a lot from this venture: the importance of an exit strategy, defining your goals, conducting due diligence, authenticity, and fostering self-confidence and astuteness.

These lessons were invaluable in setting up SVH Inc. CIC, which we established in the same year, while my youngest was just a few months old. We launched it as a partnership in January 2020. This time, I was playing in a different field; my clients were not mothers on maternity leave but professionals in workplaces, who weren't always open to engaging with a startup founded by a Black woman. I had no network here, and my husband's previous connections were no longer useful, given the length of time he had been away (over 20 years).

To circumvent this, I encouraged my husband to be the face of the business, knocking on doors and holding them open for me. This was frustrating, to say the least. To add to the challenges, I was still nursing a baby and caring for a 4-year-old.

We managed to secure a big client for our second event—Leeds United. And then COVID-19 hit, and they pulled out! The business seemed dead on arrival. No networking, no cold calling, nothing! Then I heard about the NatWest Entrepreneur Accelerator program and applied. Initially rejected due to the business's novelty, they eventually admitted me, marking a pivotal moment. It gave me the opportunity to witness how a huge organisation like NatWest pivoted to a virtual world, and I applied those observations to my business. I learned about pitching, creating a proper business plan, developing a business model canvas, and it gave me access to a network I desperately needed.

I realised a partnership wasn't the best model for us, so in 2021, we pivoted into becoming a Community Interest Company. Thanks to the lessons from YOLO Dance, I understood the power of conducting thorough due diligence before taking action. Finding and appointing a board of directors who would row in the same direction as me, keep me focused on the path I had set out, and help me stay accountable was very challenging. Fortunately, I had done a lot of virtual collaborative work through the lockdowns and built a strong network through LinkedIn. I used that to find my directors. The rest, as they say, is history”

Business Role Models

My business role models are distinguished leaders from various sectors, each embodying resilience, innovation, and commitment to social impact. Dora Akunyili’s integrity in combating counterfeit drugs in Nigeria showcases the power of fearless dedication to public health. Chetna Gala Sinha illustrates how innovative financial solutions can empower disenfranchised communities, mirroring my belief in using business for empowerment and change.

Jacinda Ardern exemplifies empathetic leadership and effective governance, blending compassion with decisiveness to navigate crises, embodying the positive societal contributions businesses can make. 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie adds intellectual courage to this mix, navigating complex cultural and feminist narratives with eloquence, challenging societal norms, and advocating for inclusivity.

Michael Jackson's global influence in music and humanitarian efforts demonstrates the profound impact of creativity and compassion, transcending traditional business and philanthropic boundaries.

These role models inspire me towards excellence, integrity, and making a tangible difference through my entrepreneurial journey. Their diverse paths reinforce the belief that leadership, across any field, is a powerful force for positive change, embodying the values I hold dear.”

Words of advice

“I wish I had grasped the crucial distinction between strategic and operational thinking much earlier in my career. This understanding is key to ensuring a business's sustainable growth, rather than merely surviving on a day-to-day basis and risking collapse in my absence.

A piece of advice I've come to value deeply is to not let fear of others' opinions hold you back. Worrying about what people might think is counterproductive. It's more important to consider the regret of not pursuing your dreams at all. What would people say if you never even tried? This mindset is crucial for moving forward despite fears and societal pressures.Additionally, understanding that the path to success is not linear has been enlightening. Detours and setbacks are not failures; they are invaluable chances to demonstrate adaptability, commitment, and creativity. Embracing these moments can lead to unexpected opportunities and learning experiences.

Lastly, the significance of building a diverse network cannot be overstated. A broad network enhances resilience, offering varied support, insights, and resources essential for navigating challenges. These lessons have been fundamental in shaping a more strategic, bold, and resilient approach to entrepreneurship and leadership.”

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Contact us

We’d be delighted to hear from you. The Enterprise Works team can be contacted via:

+44 (0)1904 321420

Related links