Kagiso Madibana: Our generation desperately needs hope

Our SLA community knows Kagiso Madibana as the founder/ chairperson of Nayang Association, a social venture that she founded in 2014. She is also an entrepreneur who owns a communications company called MD Africa Communications.

Kagiso is also a self-published author of the book ‘Tales from the heart of Botswana: Baareng’s journey’. She is currently working on finishing her second book which will be centered on her traveling adventures and actual journey to self-discovery.

Her passion for telling stories has also pushed her to seek partners in the theatre world to try and turn her first novel into a play. In this chat, we look into Kagiso’s writing journey, and the successes she has encountered. 

What influenced your decision to become a writer?

Over the years, I have learned that I can communicate and express myself better through writing. I also have an obsession with sharing and creating stories about experiences that could change lives or make an impact.

What was the inspiration behind ‘Tales from the heart of Botswana: Baareng’s journey’?

I grew up reading a lot of books and I learned a lot about the world these books. However, I never found characters that I could relate to. None of them sounded like my story or that of my neighbor.

So, I wanted to write a book that the ordinary Motswana/African could relate to. I also wanted to write inspirational stories about hope because our generation desperately needs it.

Your book examines relatable topics. Why was it important for you to write about these issues? 

The work we do at Nayang Association exposes us to a lot of poverty and people who give up on life because they have no hope for the future.

Through our mantra of “community building“, we want to change the mindset that one has to rich in order to help build their communities. We seek to inspire kids and help them believe that they can become whoever they want to be and also be involved in community building.

Through the book, I was able to bring to life characters that have the same challenges that people in our country face and show how they were able to overcome their obstacles despite their environment.

How did your debut novel end up being adopted for the Botswana standard four class syllabus? 

From the early age of 8, children begin discovering things that develop their personalities and form who they will be. When I wrote the book, I made the decision to use English in its simplest form so that anybody from the ages of 8-60 could read the story. 

My breakthrough came a year after I had traveled to different government schools (primary to senior). During these trips, I would give talks and donate books to outstanding students at prize-giving ceremonies.

I would also be reaching out to different schools to see if the novel would be a suitable read for the children.

Bathoen I House in Orapa, a Debswana private school was the first school to order the book as part of their syllabus for standard fours. Thereafter, other schools and Bridge Books Bookstore,  in Maboneng and Commissioner Street in Johannesburg, bought the novel for their libraries.

How did you get nominated for the Social Entrepreneur of the Year at the Africa Youth Awards? What did you gain from this experience? 

I believe in sharing the activities of Nayang Association with our network because it helps us remain relevant. Through our Facebook page, we update our network and reach out to more people to help us attain our goal of touching lives. 

One day, I received an email from the Africa Youth Awards Committee, notifying me that 5 social entrepreneurs from across Africa along with members of the Committee had nominated us.

The process was then open to public voting. Competing against very deserving and inspirational individuals was quite an honor. In the end, I didn’t lose anything, I gained a continental network.

How was your journey as a Batswana literary artist/creative? 

Leaving an 8-5 job to focus on writing in a country that doesn’t have much of a reading culture was a gamble. However, I knew I had to take this path. 

My challenging journey often made me think of giving up. There is a popular saying that “passion doesn’t pay the bills”. However, faith and the confidence in what I was doing guided my experience. Eventually, doors started to open.

During my journey, I had nobody to look up to or guide me. Don’t get me wrong, there are amazing writers in this country but I didn’t know their story. I choose to share mine to aspire young writers and help them learn and improve from what I did.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Learn as much as you can and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Search for entrepreneurship workshops in your area and online but most importantly NETWORK.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.

Kagiso Madibana: Believe in your product, Create your own hype

Kagiso Madibana
Kagiso Madibana driving the change she wants to see with social entrepreneurship Click To Tweet

Kagiso Madibana is a social entrepreneur and a former Chevening Scholar. She was selected as a participant from Botswana for the African Union’s Youth & Gender summit. In September 2016, Mail & Guardian Africa and Gabz FM named her as one of the 50 Batswana Change-makers under 40.

Kagiso is a founder/chairperson of Nayang Association. Nayang aids and empowers the underprivileged, in remote areas through a school clothing, shoes, food, and sanitary pad drive. With an MA in Communications and Media from Cardiff University, she has also worked as a Lead Researcher for Botswana with Global Integrity/Mo Ibrahim for their Africa Integrity Indicators study.

Before that, Kagiso had worked as a print journalist since 2008, during that time she was selected to join the International Journalist Programme(IJP)and was placed with the Deutsche Welle in Germany. Kagiso was also a part of the Women In News Programme from WAN-IFRA. She owns a small communications company called MD Africa Communications which offers editing and proof-reading services for companies amongst other things.

Last year, she self-published a fiction book, “Tales from the Heart of Botswana: Baareng’s Journey” which is available on Amazon and select stores in Botswana.

What would you say is the innovative idea behind Nayang Association and starting MD Communications?

Nayang and MD Communications were birthed from youth driving the change they wanted to see in their communities.

In my case, spearheading the initiative was a chance to get young people involved in contributing to their communities through social work. I also wanted to inspire young people to tell their stories. I wanted us to tell stories that any Motswana or African can relate to.

How did you go about growing your “brand” and impact to run a social enterprise and become self-sustaining?

At the beginning, Nayang Association was dependent on donations and membership fees for us to meet our mandate. We have since moved from that to intensive fund-raising strategies which require innovative thinking and new approaches to show our growth.

Using innovative thinking & new approaches Kagiso Madibana shows the growth of her projects Click To Tweet

We organize yoga sessions, workshops and hiking sessions in the country’s hottest tourist attractions. We also collaborate with other organisations and youth ventures that want to make a difference in the community. Our biggest challenge in the first few months was consistency, something we could not have due to a shortage of funds but we worked on that and we are trying to find ways of becoming a sustainable entity.

MD communications, Kagiso company

What four skills have you found yourself learning frequently since starting your social enterprise and publishing a book?

  • I am learning to become more assertive about public speaking.
  • Also, I am learning how to network strategically and make the right connections for any project that I am undertaking.
  • I have accepted that I don’t know everything and I listen more, especially to people who are in the same industry. I always pick up valuable lessons on how to best improve our everyday operations at Nayang.
  • Finally, I have learnt that delegating tasks and commending the people you work with is important for the growth of your organisation.

What challenges have you faced that are unique to your business and writing a book?

We had to start our project from scratch with nothing and ask the public to get involved. People are skeptical because we have had scams and a lot of community-based projects have failed due to mismanagement. So initially, it was tough to get the support and have people believe in what we wanted to do. We had to prove ourselves first so that required a great deal of financial sacrifices.

We had to start our project with nothing and ask the public to get involved @otwngal Click To Tweet

As a self-published author, I struggled to get my books into an already fraught reading nation. The reading demographic, especially for fiction books, has changed and I had to adapt. Instead of the traditional bookstores which are only available in towns and cities, I had to take my books to Choppies, a chain store that has a presence in most areas of Botswana. This of course also comes at a cost.

In what ways have you diversified your product to suit your market? Especially considering the Botswana context?

Nayang plans activities across Botswana as we want to bring attention to the beauty of the country. We use hashtags such as #VisitBotswana #HikeBotswana #Buildingcommunities on social media platforms because we want the average Motswana to know that they are not only contributing to a great cause but also that they are developing a sense of pride about being a Motswana.

Kagiso madibana organized zumba class

My book, “Tales from the Heart of Botswana: Baareng’s Journey” is a book of untold stories of hope. Any Motswana who grew up in Botswana is able to relate to the stories and feel a sense of belonging. My intention with the book was to inspire through fiction. Ensuring that the book is available for any Motswana to access, whether you are in Mochudi or Shorobe has been my biggest priority.

In both areas, social media and traditional media have been a great platform for me and the team to reach out to the community. This is the main reason why I started the MD Africa Communications company which deals with everything from social media management to Media relations and CSR project management.

With running so many projects, what do you do to unwind?

I watch Isibaya and every TV show known to man, I see myself as a Shonda Rhimes someday. I look up to Ferguson Films productions as well.

Reading is obviously a hobby! I also love travelling, hiking and adventure sports.

Some people want to write a book or start-up social enterprises, how would you advise them?

Believe in your product and create your own hype!

Start, that’s always the hardest part. Funding should never be a reason for you to delay implementation otherwise you never will follow up on your ideas.

Funding should never be a reason to delay otherwise you never will follow up on your ideas Click To Tweet

Kagiso with president of Botswana

Who inspires you?

Any young person willing to take a risk, as well as successful entrepreneurs who are not afraid to talk about their failures. Many times we don’t know about the financial struggles they went through in their transition to where they are today.

If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here