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.

Lessons we can learn about building a social brand from Seatbelts&Openspaces

thuto sekate seatbelts&openspaces being lizzie
It is important to incorporate a social issue that can be part and parcel of the story behind your brand Click To Tweet

Social branding is important in trying to build enterprises that are btoh sustainable and socially responsible. We can learn a few lessons from Seatbelts&Openspaces CEO, Thuto Sekate.

Seatbelts&Openspaces is an ethically social brand which produces sustainable merchandise including up-cycled arts and crafts, clothing, and décor made from organic material, old clothes, trash and scrap material.

1. What influences your brand?

For Thuto, a #MotherlandMogul making vintage clothing with environmentally friendly products, her influence is from her past.

“Seatbelts&Openspaces is a result of an ethical father and mother. My dad once worked for an NGO that dealt with social issues, then moved on to work for a can recycling company. Later, my mother started a glass and paper recycling company while I was still a minor. So caring for the environment was naturally drummed into me.”

In university, she had the experience to cover a topic of sustainable fashion. This exposed Thuto to her calling to address her social issue of choice through eco fashion.

When building a social brand, it is important to incorporate a social issue that can be part and parcel of the story behind your brand.

Source: Seatbelts&Openspaces Facebook
Source: Seatbelts&Openspaces Facebook

2. Clearly define your brand

Through her platform, Thuto directly addresses environmental issues, making clothing from waste or recyclable material. She also upcycles, with ethical practices such as using natural dyes like coffee and tea in her production.

Thuto’s focus is incorporated in every fabric and material she makes which is clearly visible in whatever she sells. Through her style of fashion, Thuto reduces the carbon footprint by handcrafting her work.

There is a conscious effort in her work to ensure that her brand clearly associates itself as environmentally conscious and friendly.

Thuto Sekate directly addresses environmental issues through Seatbelts&Openspaces Click To Tweet

3. Learning from others

“I am definitely following other social brands, both fashion for their trends and just eco brands for the information of staying eco conscious.”

Thuto learns a lot from more developed socially responsible brands that help her find better ways to structure her business. This way, she can improve her process and technique as well as raising her integrity associated with being a “woke” brand.

Source: Seatbelts&Openspaces Facebook
Source: Seatbelts&Openspaces Facebook

4. There will be challenges still, SLAy

In countries like Botswana, building a eco friendly brand is not common or well known as part of the business process. So not everyone will understand immediately your work.

“Awareness of the cause is still building up in Botswana, so very few people understand the deeper meaning of the brand. The educational part of the need for such a brand needs to be built before we can successfully make a significant social impact.

I guess that’s why Seatbelts&Openspaces is a need. Our attempts are to close that gap of understanding and rocking the brand while creating employment opportunities for the youth. Mostly the balancing of profit and good will.”

Beyond looking to make a profit, your brand has to look at long-term sustainable solutions to ensure it meets its targets and impacts its community positively.

Building a social brand requires realizing that you improving your space in one way or another Click To Tweet

5. Be a game changer

Building a social brand requires realizing that you are different and improving your space in one way or another. Your platform can influence others on how they perceive social challenges around them, especially now in Africa.

“The possibilities are endless for us, we are the actual future. With the amount of “woke” young people in my circle alone, my faith in humanity is restored daily. Photographers, weavers, bloggers, doctors, lawyers, accountants, online store owners are each tackling different social issues.

From documenting poverty in photos, offering artisanal skills to the less fortunate, selling art made by locals all over the world at fair prices, giving locals an opportunity to grow beyond borders or awarding free medical services, with the help of crowdfunding. We do need to make profit, but it should not be at the expense of others.”

Seatbealts&Openspaces does not shy always from realizing the task of changing the narrative on consciousness in business in the Motherland. Neither should you.