Global leaders from the public sector, private sector, civil society and academia met this week in Davos, Switzerland for the 50th Anniversary of the World Economic Forum. The theme this year was “Stakeholders for a Cohesive and Sustainable World”.
Africa.com has curated hundreds of keynote speeches, panel discussions, focused spotlight talks, exhibits, and sideline events to give Motherland Moguls the scoop on what happened.
1. A Zambian teen is changing the women’s health game
Natasha Mwansa, a Zambian teen got the world’s attention when she talked about her work in Africa. The 18-year old runs her own foundation and is the most compelling advocate and activist for girls and women’s reproductive rights.
She has used her voice to address the underfunding of maternal health and forced marriages of young girls. Mwansa explained that young people want more than to simply speak at conferences or become spokespersons for meaningful causes: they want to become partners in political change.
Intergenerational partnerships are necessary to help translate youth mobilization into political change.
For the world’s most vulnerable, climate change is not a distant existential threat: it is killing people right now. Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, President of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, gave a powerful reality check.
‘In my region, people are dying because of climate change’
Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim at WEF Davos
In the video below, Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim explains what it’s like to live in a place where the effects of climate change are #realaf.
3. The Motsepe Foundation is supporting Social Entrepreneurship
Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, the newly elected Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, hosted several events showcasing the success of her work through the Motsepe Foundation.
4. This woman is leading education reform with Ethiopia’s Sesame Street
Originally a primary school teacher in Addis Ababa, Bruktawit Tigabu Tadesse developed the Whiz Kids Workshop, a multimedia enterprise that makes shows like “Tsehai Loves Learning”, the first educational pre-school TV show in Ethiopia.
Bruktawit founded the company in 2015 with her husband while looking to make high-quality education accessible to children on a mass scale. Working from their living room, they used sock puppets, computer graphics, and their own voices to produce Tsehai Loves Learning.
The most important take away from WEF Davos is that we all need to play our part to create a peaceful and sustainable world – no matter how small.
What impact does your business have in your community?
It’s no news that companies take Corporate Social Responsibility very seriously. It’s like a magic door that opens up more opportunities and this is why. The world is ever-changing and businesses are looking for more ways to connect with their customers.
As a BOSS Lady, beyond making the $$$, you need to look at the bigger picture on how you can create a positive change in your community.
Firstly, when your business is seen making an impact, it shows that you have an interest in social issues which will help raise your company profile, attract new customers and/or identify new opportunities.
Remember, being socially responsible is good for the bottom line.
If you want to learn how to create, craft and manage social change strategies, join us on Thursday, August 22nd, for a Facebook Live with Judith Owigar, founder of JuaKali Workforce, who’ll be dishing out tips to help your business aim for change.
Some of the topics we’ll cover:
How to discover what social issues are most relevant to you and your community.
5 different ways your business can create a positive social change while you make profit.
Finding purpose and grit in social projects.
Impact vs Sustainability.
Facebook LIVE details:
Date: Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
Time: 12PM Lagos // 1PM Joburg// 2PM Nairobi
Watch Facebook Live with Judith:
Judith Owigar is passionate about initiatives involving youth, women and all things technology. With a Masters in Applied Computing from the University of Nairobi, she’s the founder JuaKali Workforce, an online micro-jobs platform that connects young people to short term jobs in Kenya’s informal sector.
In 2015, Judith shared a panel with President Barack Obama of the U. S. and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. She is a 2015 East African Acumen Fellow and a 2014 international Focus fellow.
She has been named as one of the Top 40 under 40 women by the Business Daily newspaper in Kenya and has been recognized with the Anita Borg Change Agent Award by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology.
iDare.NotDread is a social Enterprise promoting innovation, creativity, and enterprise in Nigeria.
Our focus is primarily to build women communities and empower them with creative and innovative skills for business growth.
What’s one business tip you wish most business owners knew and could wield to their advantage?
Network. Meet people.
That money you want is in someone’s account. That unspoken challenge can be solved by someone. Attend workshops, events, and meet people. Most people don’t bite.
How can entrepreneurs begin to understand the power of conducting market validation, and collaboration with other SMEs?
I believe in collaboration. This is why I try to build communities. We started the Abuja food community in May, and its amazing to see how much collaboration has happened in a group full of women.
Yet, we probably thought women prefer to fight. No. The moment businesses understand that collaboration first means ‘here is what I can give you’, before ‘give me what I want’, they will lead better businesses.
With a lot of fake business coaches around, what makes your brand different?
We didn’t just arrive. We’ve been here a while. In 2013 we started with creating a platform for entrepreneurs to share their stories and inspire others.
Over time, we realized stories weren’t enough. Capacities needed to be built.
So we went all in to try to understand the real needs of the entrepreneurs we wished to serve, and since 2016, we started contributing to conversations around digital technology and creating a good impact in the digital space.
Since then, our efforts have birthed super brands.
In the past 3 years we have successfully trained 4,000 entrepreneurs on digital strategies as well as provided opportunities for business visibility.
Many thanks to the opportunity Google granted us through the Digital Skills for Africa programme and a host of other partners who have trusted us to work with them.
Why should SMEs understand their target markets before making an entrance into the market?
Because if we don’t, we would be hitting our heads on rocks. Hard rocks.
You can’t sell to everyone, and this is why research is key to identifying who your market is.
We are currently on our 3rd cohort and it’s been amazing!!! Every 2 months we launch a new set of authors who are super proud of their achievements. It feels great to empower people to create wealth with their knowledge.
We are looking to expand the community beyond eBooks to help more women create diverse digital products and generate more income.
How does the “Do It Afraid” catchphrase relate to entrepreneurs who don’t like taking risks?
We all have fear in us. It’s an emotion. I am still learning to tame my fears. And we all should. The best way to go about it is to go ahead and do that very thing you fear.
I have coached a number of businesses and one of the areas I tend to focus on is to help them fight those limitations – the little voices and beliefs that make them feel less of themselves and limited.
It’s important we act despite fear. Accept your fears but act.
What’s the worst that could happen? Failure? Then show me one person who NEVER failed.
The innovative agency also offers unique housekeeping services of weekly maids for those that do not need full time stay in maids hence slowly disrupting the sector.
She also founded the Domestic Workers Association of Zimbabwe which is a network of Zimbabwean maids with a focus on capacity building and advocacy work. DWAZ has members in Zimbabwe, South Africa and is growing daily.
In this article, she talks about how she took advantage of her background in HR to create more jobs by starting her own business.
I have a B.Sc. in Human Resources Management, a Diploma in Labour Law from the Institute of People Management and Post Graduate Diploma in Law from the University of Zimbabwe.
I’m also a Mandela Washington Fellow 2018 Alumni and a YALI RLC Southern Africa 2016 Alumni. I have done Entrepreneurship Training with Empretec, ACT in Africa. Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce and Social Entrepreneurship training with the Udugu Institute.
So far, I have worked in the energy, mining, catering and hospitality industry in the Human Resources Department holding management positions before going into entrepreneurship full time.
I write articles for different publications about domestic work and I run a blog. I have written a handbook for domestic workers.
Because of my bubbly nature and being a motivator, I am often invited to speak at various women’s events nationally.
What led you to start the housekeeping business?
When I had my first child, I struggled with getting the “perfect” maid. In a space of 6 months, I had changed maids four times! I realized that it was very difficult to get the perfect maid when you needed them.
Upon further research, I discovered I was not alone. Majority of working women need a maid but struggle to get one on time.
I also realized that there were also so many women who needed jobs as domestic workers but did not know where to start. Coupled with my background in Human Resources Management, I realized I could provide a solution.
I simply had to bridge the gap between the employers and the employees, hence the birth of Chris and Geo. My work drives me and I have a great passion for what I do.
Running my own organization brings me great joy and seeing one woman’s’ life transformed by simply being a maid is enough reward. Seeing a previously disadvantaged child go back to school because her mother can now afford it is enough satisfaction.
Chris and Geo is an organization that was formed with the family in mind. It recruits, trains and places socially and economically disadvantaged women as domestic workers.
It offers fulltime stay-in and stay-out maids and also has contract maids that are available on specific days to the clients. Chris and Geo offer on-the-job training for maids.
Through Chris and Geo, I realized there was more that goes in the sector. From working with the maids, I realized they were vulnerable and they also needed capacity building hence establishing the Domestic Workers Association of Zimbabwe.
My work is more of a calling than anything else. Domestic workers are very important with almost 70% percent of urban households relying on the help of domestic workers. It is also, amongst one of the oldest professions. Unlike in developed countries, the profession is still informal and not officially recognized.
The sector is so behind with both the employers and employees lacking the professionalism required of any profession. This is why I do what I do, I am in it to change the game.
How does a normal working day go in your business?
My work is mostly about societal impact rather than monetary impact. Being your own boss means your workload is never normal! You do what needs to be done whenever it needs to be done.
Our business is heavily centered on convenience meaning a client must be able to call us any time when they need a maid. As such, every hour is a working hour for us.
In Zimbabwe are people comfortable with strangers coming to their homes to clean? How have you managed client inhibitions?
Actually, in Zimbabwe majority of households have stay in maids. It has been like this for so many years. Families prefer having someone that stay within their homes.
Generally, Zimbabweans are open people and the family structure is very important. We have huge families and the extended family is usually a close family.
As such, it is not very difficult to have someone join the family. Our private space is so accommodating that we have few inhibitions about having someone in our homes.
It is only now that we are beginning to have formal distinctions with domestic work, Otherwise, culturally the maid is part of the family with titles like Aunty or Sister.
Now, people are beginning to have stayed out maids that do not stay with the family. This is why the domestic work sector is very huge in the country. It only lacks professionalism and formalization but it has been in existence since independence.
What has been your major challenge on your business journey? What can be done about it?
I know this is going to sound rehearsed and rhetoric but it is the truth. Capital is a challenge for many businesses and mine has not been exempted.
I did not start my business with any loan or grant or funding of any sort. As a result, my growth has been steady rather than spontaneous. This has its advantages and disadvantages. It allows me time to refine my business model but it also gives greater room to competition and effluxion by time.
I have managed to work around this by using the lean startup approach and also by ensuring I am innovative and relevant. It is about survival after all.
You recently returned from the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF), what would you say were and how will this impact your business.
MWF was such a great eye-opener and not only did it help me in my work but also in my personal life. Before leaving for America, I had my whole work plan drawn out and I knew exactly what I wanted to do.
Imagine my shock upon getting to America when I realized that the playing field is totally different! Whereas in Zimbabwe, almost every urban house has a maid, in America, where I was, it was the opposite.
All the people I met and talked to did not have a maid, let alone a stay in maid! I was however very fortunate to meet up with one housekeeping business owner and we shared notes. I’ve also got a few great business ideas and I hope to even have a day-care in the future. I know I’m in the right direction.
Before leaving for MWF, I had started on contract housekeeping services which are not so common in the country. I was excited to learn that this is the norm in America and it reinforced the direction I was taking in business.
Although they have their own problems, domestic workers in America are heavily covered by legislation making the job a real formal profession. It is this kind of formalization I envision for the Zimbabwean and African domestic work sector.
What do you wish you knew before starting out in business
That passion alone is not enough, that capital alone is not enough, that education alone is not enough, that faith alone is not enough. Business success is a combination and a recipe for many things.
You need the right amounts of all these ingredients and strategically used for final success. It is not like what we see on TV or read in novels, they exclude the hard, dirty and painful parts of it all.
It is not even that glamorous at times. I wish I had known this all before I started my business.
What advice would you give to young African young women seeking to start businesses
Just do it!
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Samantha Mogwe is a Motswana singer/songwriter who brings a fused element of neo-soul/RnB. Raised to appreciate poetry and performing arts, she was exposed to music at an early age.
She has had the opportunity to perform not only in Botswana but in South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia, and Sweden. Sharing the stage with well-known artists such as Zahara, The Soil, Zonke, Joe Thomas, Kenny Latimore, Lira, Micasa, Hugh Masikela among others.
Samantha is a 2014 YAMA award winner for Best Female Artist for the year and a BOMU Award winner for Best packaged Album, in 2015.
She is a multifaceted individual who places great value on edification and re-inventive qualities. She holds a degree in Theology and has studied music with the Trinity College of London.
Samantha is a wife and a mother, radio personality on local radio station Gabz Fm, a voice coach, fitness enthusiast and businesswoman who maintains her work-life balance by scheduling everything and prioritizing what is important.
In this interview, she chats to us about personal and business branding qualities, new radio show venture and social entrepreneurship.
Have you always wanted to be a musician?
I come from a family that loves music and arts in general. I knew I loved music but I did not grow up thinking I would choose music as a career.
It’s something that crept up on me when my best friend forced me to join My African Dream when we were 15. We came second in our category and then I would always find myself gravitating towards performing on stage despite fear and being shy.
How have you steered clear of the ideology that doing music in Botswana is not a sustainable career?
Like any career, the arts are unpredictable, and I say this because we now live in a time where a staggering number of our graduates are unemployed even though they are in fields that our parents assume would be safer when it comes to making an income.
I personally have never been the type of person who was caught up in following the ideas and norms of what society expected of me.
I think it’s because I remind myself that I came into this world alone, and one day I will SOLELY stand before God to give an account of what I did with the gifts and opportunities that He has given me.
My faith and hope for being a successful musician are what also fuelled me to keep at it even when there were so many reasons to just simply give up and try something that seemed to have more certainty.
Why was it important for you to transition into the radio realm and how did you prepare for it?
How I got into radio was a bit of a strange one. Some people think it’s because I “knew someone” who gave me the opportunity but that is not how it happened.
At the beginning of 2017, I had a deep inclination to invest in myself and learn the art of public speaking. I joined Gaborone Toast Masters and spent the entire year with the Club, learning how to speak in public without being afraid and how to articulate myself.
Gabz Fm then put out an advert where they were looking for new radio presenters and I tried to ignore it. My husband and sister then convinced me to drop off my applications and demo.
Three months later after they had gone through the applicants, I was shortlisted to join a group of ten who had potential. We began training in December of 2017 into January of 2018 and that’s how I got in.
I have always known that I would love to be able to speak on a public platform because writing music can be limiting as you are working on sharing an idea on an instrumental that is less than 4 minutes. That’s quite limiting.
I wanted to diversify my brand in a way that still maintained my purpose and vision and also challenged me so that I would keep growing as a person.
Not only that, I found that it was important that I should try and reach people who might only see me as a performing artist, but often wouldn’t think that I have opinions on issues that we as Batswana are dealing with on a day to day basis.
The “Sams Purple Lounge” among other things addresses interesting business and social issues. What encouraged you to address these?
I want us to fix ourselves and in turn fix our immediate community in our own little way. This is what Sams Purple Lounge is out to do.
To be honest, I have gotten tired of having us constantly complaining as a people. We have many problems in our society so why not show solutions.
This is why I try to bring guests who are addressing various social concerns. Our conversations are geared toward fixing social issues, and also at times educating and challenging the mindset that often needs challenging and encouragement to look at life beyond ‘ME, MYSELF AND I’!
I am overwhelmed by the response. So far people love it, and I couldn’t be happier because that encourages me to keep going and keep growing as a radio presenter.
Can you tell us more about your social enterprises?
I have aligned myself with two specific social causes:
LOVE IS ART: The whole point is to use theatre and performing arts during the 16 days of Activism Against Women and Child Abuse. Here we tell stories aimed at creating dialogue and in the process, we raise funds for safe houses for battered women and children.
This seems to be a big trouble area for Batswana as most times, we do not talk about the abuse that goes on in our homes. We see that women are daily encouraged to stay with spouses who abuse them and/or their children.
We have also gone as far having a sanitary pad drive for incarcerated women.
SKY GIRLS BW: I have been working with them since 2014, and the relationship stems from their focus on the young Motswana girl.
Teaching the young girl how to be assertive, how to be grounded and how to be okay with being themselves and not succumbing to peer pressure that comes in different forms. I think this especially is close to my heart because our peers can often derail us from following a dream.
This is because they do not understand what it is that we want to achieve in life, and I know this as someone who decided to follow the arts as a chosen career path instead of the conventional 8-5 office job.
Name three factors you used in building and sustaining your personal/business brand.
Looking back at my own personal brand, I would say what has helped me achieve a sustainable brand over the past few years include the following things
A lot of the time, people assume that you have to be a certain way in order to amass a following of a specific magnitude. I have never tried to be anything that is not Samantha Mogwe. You will see this is not only what I post on social media, but how I write my music as well as the content I bring on my radio show.
I try to be transparent and real when it comes to what I portray. I also ensure that I am credible and trustworthy. In being authentic, I make it known that I am finding my way, learning and growing just like everyone else. I am never afraid to admit when I don’t know something.
Another thing that people will realize is authenticity cannot be faked as people watch and observe to see if you maintain consistency in the things that you value and how I communicate issues that are close to your heart.
From the beginning, I have always told myself that I wanted to live a life that made a difference in the lives of people. This might include simply educating, bringing awareness, teaching, challenging.
My purpose is clear in the lyrical content of my music, in my radio show, in the conversations I have, in the projects that I affiliate my brand with, in the things I post about on social media.
How prominent is your brand? I have always made sure that I continued and still continue to build my brand internally and externally. This means that I attend networking sessions and find ways to grow myself.
I collaborate with other brands that share the same values as me. Even when I was expecting my son and took a break from music, I maintained visibility. This kept me visible yet allowed me to share something that I was passionate about.
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Makalela Mositsa, simply known to some as Kay, is an author, model and social entrepreneur with a passion for helping women realize their true essence.
She helps young women make the transition from being ordinary women to becoming future leaders with real impact and deal with the sometimes overwhelming prospect of starting a new business while still maintaining a healthy home.
Makalela started writing for She Leads Africa in early 2016. This year, she ventured into leadership empowerment where she coaches high school youth on topics like becoming leaders and starting their own businesses.
Makalela offers a wide range of programs and services – from individual coaching to seminars and keynote addresses.
Fellow SLAy queen Jeanette Nkwana had a chat with her and got to know a little more about this multi-faceted woman.
How did you go from social entrepreneurship to the runway?
Modeling has always been a passion for me. When I heard Miss Eagle SA was modeling and empowerment all wrapped in one, I knew that I had to be part of this amazing contest.
Miss Eagle SA is a great platform for me to reach out to and motivate as many individuals as I can. Women empowerment has always been my first love and modelling is just fantastic.
Getting to do the two simultaneously has been an exciting journey for me. I believe doing what you love is freedom but having everything in one package is indeed a blessing.
It is the art of bringing out the best in others and encouraging them to lead and pay it forward by empowering others.
Realising that though a lot of people have dreams and great ideas but still need to be empowered so that they can fulfill their desires is what ultimately led me to this path.
Without empowerment, motivation, and encouragement, dreams of world change will remain just that, dreams.
What are the top 3 qualities you believe any leader should have?
Passion for what you do
Full of motivation
Aspiration to make a difference
You help young women transition into leaders, what is your approach to this?
A good coaching process sets the way forward, holds people accountable, enables them to take responsibility for their own direction, opens up the way for greater communication, increases competency, and expands innovative opportunities.
These are all ingredients of leader-empowering behaviors, which has been shown to increase psychological empowerment also.
If you could, would you travel back in time or into the future?
Back in time. What I know now leads me to believe I could’ve been better and done more in the past. I don’t regret the past, but I do feel I could have made a better difference than I did.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from within. The intense passion that is burning within me always pushes me to reach for my dreams.
It inspires me to be limitless and driven, and ultimately be a better person than I was yesterday.
What are your top 3 hacks for dealing with school, entrepreneurship and work/family life?
Set time for eachtask-prepare a schedule at night for the tasks I’ll be doing the following day.
Attend to tasks in accordance with their priority.
No matter how swamped I am with school work and meeting deadlines, I never take for granted the time I need to spend with my family.
How do you explain the complexity of entrepreneurship?
Many entrepreneurs who have achieved phenomenal things did it without being in possession of formal qualifications. They observed what was happening and lacking in society and thought implemented ideas that could eradicate such problems.
Entrepreneurs believe in their own thoughts and work hard to bring them to life, but they also never forget the importance of education, in whichever form.
When you are in business you need to understand the market, comprehend the business language and most importantly make others see and understand your brand narrative so they can invest their time and money in it.
If you had to describe your life right now using a movie title, which would it be and why?
Journey. I’m on a journey to create a powerful legacy that will forever continue to empower others and have a positive impact on the society.
Has your age or gender ever been a problem for some of your clients or anyone in general? How did you deal with it?
I’m a simple person, just a young lady with big dreams and a strong desire to realize them. People are different, some arrive at their own conclusions about you before getting to know you and others get to know you before judging you or your capabilities.
I had moments where I was looked down on because of my gender, age, and appearance, but I always let my work speak for me, I’m confident in my abilities.
What has been the greatest lesson you learned building your different careers?
If you can think it then you have the ability to breathe life into it. Our imagination is boundless and that on its own makes us limitless beings.
We all have greatness within, whether you make it count is your own prerogative.
What advice will you give to young women who want to go into social entrepreneurship and women empowerment?
Firstly, believe in yourself and in your dreams. Do it because you love it. Never let the fact that people don’t see and believe in your vision hinder you.
It’s not every day that you hear the story of a beauty queen owning a farm. But the story gets bewildering when you notice that instead of just employing people to work on the farm (like some “modern” farmers do) she goes hands in and knee deep -getting her well-manicured nails in groveling dirt as she furiously uproots and plants, as she waters and nurtures and as she satisfyingly harvests and reaps.
Meet Emefa Quashie. A present farmer, social entrepreneur and an erstwhile beauty pageant winner. When she’s not furiously uprooting and planting on her farm (Mamagah Farms), she is lost in her studies for her MBA in Marketing or running Universal ChildCare Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports needy children.
SLA contributor Emma Kwenu Smith caught up with Emefa to get some insights on how to dominate in an unpopular agriculture career for modern young women and simultaneously use it to make a social impact.
Tell us about Mamagah Farms.
Mamagah Farms is a social project that mobilizes and empowers rural women farmers to adopt modern technologies in farming. We want to commercialize agriculture in rural communities in southern Ghana. Mamagah farms was established in 2015 with the main aim of empowering women economically through commercial farming and creating support schemes. These schemes create opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their livelihood.
Currently, we work with female smallholder farmers in rural communities within the Southern part of Ghana. Simply put: We farm, we train and we support.
There are so many avenues for social entrepreneurship -why agriculture and what was the innovative idea behind Mamagah Farms?
I was born into a farming community, and my mother was a small holder farmer so I spent a lot of my days on the farm assisting her. Unfortunately, along the line I grew up with a warped misconception about agriculture. Growing up in a rural community, I always thought farming was for the poor and uneducated -after all, many folks there turn to farming to be able to feed their families and also make an economic living.
However, over time I came to appreciate the relevance of agriculture and numerous opportunities it presents to the youth. Mamagah Farms was born out of this realization. This is why I decided to take up farming –to send a message to the young women.
Do you plan to diversify what you produce and expand to include other parts of the country? How are you preparing for this?
With over 200 acres of land in the Volta Region of Ghana, we specialize in growing and harvesting in maize and pepper. Unfortunately, and as is the same with any start-up, not having enough funds can slow down plans of scaling up. We are pitching for investors and hopefully, we would be able to work at optimum capacity, making full use of the land.
This way, we will be able to diversify our produce and grow a variety of crops to suit both local and international demands. Funding is everything especially for an entrepreneur who wants to leverage on technology to make farming simple and easier. There are plans to expand to other parts of the country and even West Africa.
How does your business as a social venture empower local women farmers?
Mamagah Farms is just like social entrepreneurship project. We apply business principles to solve societal problems. What we noticed is that there is potential for rural women farmers to cultivate on a bigger scale and learn the best farming methods which would ultimately impact their economic livelihood. Realizing this, we use the profit from Mamagah Farms for investments.
Apart from financially supporting these farmers to purchase inputs and commercialize their farms, we also partner with local organizations to provide training and extension sessions for these women. Most of the women who work with us are single mothers and while we want to fight poverty and promote empowerment, we want these women to have enough to afford to educate their children. An empowered woman means an empowered family and ultimately, an empowered nation.
What challenges have you faced with Mamagah Farms and its related social projects?
My biggest challenge has been reorienting the minds of the local folks. As hardworking as they are, the tradition has created a certain mindset towards change. A typical example is technology. When you suggest the use of tractors, some believe that using tractors may disturb the peace of their ancestors. With such a mindset, how can we grow?
But it is not enough to recognize a challenge and leave it there. We take the women farmers through training programs, where we address these challenges. We show them concrete examples of how farming is done in first world countries and how we can get there. Culture and tradition can have a hold on people’s mindset, and it is important to give them the needed exposure in order to disabuse this mindset.
Why should more women explore the prospects in agriculture in Ghana, and Africa?
In recent times, women are defying the odds and taking more risks in their careers. Why should agriculture and agribusinesses be any different? Can a woman not own a 10,000 acre farm and work on it herself, while managing others to work as well? Agriculture has never been and is not a reserve of men. Our natural disposition as women makes us more inclined to be the better farmers, we are nurturing and detail-oriented. This is an important quality.
There are several opportunities in agriculture we can take advantage of. From crop planting through to the distribution of produce, there are endless opportunities to explore. Food is a necessity. Africa has arable land and other resources, and there are always opportunities to meet the need for food produce. If you get such an opportunity, why say no?
They are double trouble, double threat and authors of the twin book; “Distinguish or Extinguish Yourself”. They are well known as the Ts’ita twins in Lesotho and around Southern Africa as the two powerhouses serial entrepreneurs. The Ts’ita twins have a knack for success in developing and creating multiple enterprises that solve Lesotho’s high unemployment rate.
The twins, Nts’epeng and Ts’epang Ts’ita have managed to consistently build one business after another. The Ts’ita twins empower Basotho women through the Finite women awards and build patriotism among the Basotho nation.
For their many efforts the twins have received numerous awards. Among them are the Mantsopa award (2010), the Commonwealth Leadership award (2014), as well as the Gender Links awards.
The Twin Talk brand is said to be the brainchild behind the many companies that both you two own? What birthed it?
We began creating our brand from an early age due to being twins. We always loved to entertain people, whether it be guests at home, students at morning prayer parade, and fellow school mates at scripture union service. This grew to performing with celebrities at local concerts and ultimately we refined it to a more structured collective of ‘Twin Talk’.
It was largely inspired by great and renowned world speakers. Of course, BAM group was centred around this. We have always had a dream to own businesses. This was nurtured from an early age as our father was a renowned businessman. He always encouraged us to visualise our lives as independent women who would not get into a relationship for financial security, but for real love.
As serial entrepreneurs whose main enterprises are socially driven, how has this shaped the business ventures you pursue?
We began our first business in 2005 called BAM Consultancy, it helped us grasp the basics of business and harness our skill into perfecting our craft. However as the entrepreneurs that we truly are, one company was not enough to feed our passion to provide the service.
There was so much needed out there, with so little needed to address the needs of the customers. We decided to venture into other industries such as media, later on arts and culture promotion, and eventually general promotions. Today we are still opening doors to more entrepreneurial opportunities. This is exciting for us as we get to explore new opportunities and not necessarily focus on one stream of income.
What role does social entrepreneurship play in your business endeavours?
All the business ventures we have embarked on to date at their core try to address our societies’ most pressing social problems. We are intent on ensuring that we engage with individuals and communities at large, while also creating platforms for sharing with people and experts in various fields.
This is formalized in our corporate training ventures through BAM Consultancy. We train on business skills such as financial management, use of new technologies, recruitment services and project management. We also provide training on softer skills designed to help build leadership, management and self-mastery for those needing to excel.
Our promotions services recognize individuals and help them and their impact to be felt socially within their circles of influence. Finally, our various publications focus on women, youth and the general public, as well as entrepreneurs. They also address social issues at a familial level.
We also provide mentorship services on group and one-on-one levels. We know that social evolution is centred around inspiring individuals to be brave enough to take on challenges at a scale that makes a signification impact for themselves and their environments.
What birthed the concept of the Finite Women awards? What does it mean to be a ‘finite woman’? Do you think that after four years running, the awards have achieved their ultimate aim?
We’ve always loved creating opportunities that put women in the forefront, that is one of the reasons Finite Magazine itself was born. It was something for Basotho women to be proud of. Being finite for us was the essence of completeness, of attaining a certain level of achievement.
A finite person is someone whose story does not need to be refined any further because they appreciate who they are and are proud of what has made them be. It is about being a ray of hope to others, and sharing experiences to help others know that they are not alone.
In 2016, the awards are in their 5th year of existence. This milestone was marked with the introduction of the Male Appreciation Awards. The awards are growing stronger and broader each year. Their impact is felt by those nominating and nominated, they are more vigilant about what is happening in the women empowerment space.
What challenges have you come across as one of the few female business moguls in Lesotho? How did you overcome them?
When we started out in business, the challenge was mainly on age and not being taken seriously because we were women. We entered an industry dominated by males, and were new entrants. Obviously some people did not believe we could do it. Some did not trust us, others did not like us and some made it their business to chase us out of business.
Perseverance, the love of what we were doing, our belief in what we could achieve, our daily practice and implementation of our EQ and our faith in God made us push beyond all these negativities.
Being women with a strong sense of independence, one would think that we dominate our families, and particularly our husbands. This is not the case at all and we try by all means to practice what we preach.
A husband is a partner and needs to be treated with the respect not practised in the boardroom. We have extremely supporting and loving husbands who encourage us to excel in our business areas, and for that we are forever grateful. We create time for our children and contribute largely towards their growth, all with the mercy of God.
Among the many titles you hold, includes that of being authors and activists. What was behind the whole concept of your amazing book, “Distinguish or Extinguish Yourself”?
Initially, our academic qualifications led us to believe that financial rewards are embedded in the skills learned from school. We were in the hard science fields at university, and had always wanted to prove that we could do it in the “men’s” world.
However, our opinions changed as we started gaining wisdom of the world’s problems. We realized that soft skills are at the core of every human’s intrinsic satisfaction. The notion of writing our best seller “Distinguish or Extinguish Yourself”, was born! Afterwards, we embarked into setting up a real solution for women and youth, entrepreneurs and communities at large. We did this through solidifying the Twin Talk brand, and ultimately establishing BAM’s philanthropic arm.
We provide training and mentorship services to minority groups in an effort to build their aptitude, confidence and delivery skills. Through this all, we emphasize a skill that we even went to train and are now qualified for, which is Emotional Intelligence, known simply as EQ.
What can Lesotho and Africa expect from you in terms of expanding the business and contributing to the continent? What advice would you offer to young, up and coming female entrepreneurs?
We can only do so much “individually”, but collectively as organizations, associations and countries a lot can be achieved. Our intention is to share and partner with as many as possible. We focus on information dissemination for empowerment of individuals, communities and nations at large.
We intend to expand as much as we possibly can to reach anyone we can touch through our various tools and services. To our fellow women entrepreneurs we say do not rely on your femininity to get to the next level. Use your brains, your willpower and your passion. And never undermine yourselves, or underestimate your capabilities. All is possible once you are driven by, “If they can, why can’t I?”
As we continue to build a legacy for generations to come, what we know for sure is that corruption, lack of empathy, lack of drive and ultimately lack of vision leads nations to peril. We thank God for His Mercy to have kept us alive thus far towards impacting lives positively. We hope we are doing just that and will keep on doing just that for as long as we live.
Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.
Sandra Myambu is currently a Portfolio Programme Analyst at Dimension Data where she is involved in delivery and support of global, strategic projects. She is also the MD for Masana Social Innovations. During her university years, Sandra joined Enactus as Project Manager then Vice President. She also volunteered as a Skills Development Trainer and Project coordinator at an NGO.
When Sandra began working for Dimension Data, she still wanted to continue having an impact to society. By seeing the number of graduates increase in parallel with youth unemployment, the idea for Masana Social Innovations was stimulated. Sandra found out from various research exercises that many graduates lacked skills that deemed them employable, especially in the ICT sector. This is when she started Masana Social Innovations to uplift young people.
Sandra shares with SLA contributor, Anelisa Kasper her challenges and motivators of starting Masana Social Innovations with a full-time job.
How has your journey/transition from corporate to entrepreneurship been like?
As I’m currently still in corporate and have recently started with Masana, my transition into entrepreneurship hasn’t been hard. Masana’s aim is to use technology innovations to enable the civil society, corporates and state entities to deliver sustainable social solutions to communities. This will be achieved through bridging the skills gap in the ICT industry with a key focus on women, through the facilitation of various skills development programmes.
This doesn’t mean it will be easy for everyone, as experiences vary from one person to the next. I haven’t had to transition as much. The most important thing was to find a balance between my corporate and my entrepreneurship venture. I have always been involved in entrepreneurial activities so juggling my job and my new business is familiar territory. There have been serious adjustments, where Masana and my job are demanding at the same time. What has helped me keep the balance was to be able to effectively manage my time. As I am the MD of Masana, it’s easier to manage my work and assign work to myself that also ensures that my job does not take major strain.
What have been your hardest moments, and how have you overcome them and still overcoming them?
I have big dreams and aspirations for Masana as a social enterprise, and not just as an NGO. Articulating my vision for the organisation has been one of the biggest challenges to date. What I’ve learned from trying to explain that vision is putting it into smaller goals, e.g. this is where Masana is going this year in order for it to get where Masana ultimately needs to be.
Articulating the vision to people will still be a problem in the future because Masana is trying to use innovation to drive real social change. The issue is that people are still not ready to invest in social innovation or community programmes. The hope is that reaching out to more people in smaller scales and trying to explain the vision will help in increasing the buy-in.
One of the major challenges that Masana is still experiencing is getting the right buy-in from the right people. It takes time to establish those relationships and to most importantly, maintain them. Common ground and common interest are key in getting buy-in from investors for your business.
What keeps you going in making sure you make Masana Social Innovations an even bigger success?
It’s about knowing how whether small or big the initiatives Masana has, they are valued and they have a real impact on young people and the community. Recently, Masana hosted Africa Code Week in October. During the code week, Masana trained over 600 young people on basic coding skills. In addition, 60% – 70% of the participants were women. The programme had a big impact, and has opened up more women to coding, even if it’s starting at basic coding skills.
The initiatives that Masana holds have had a big impact. Not just to impart people with coding skills which are essential, but also to make people realise that technology is also essential. The success of a business can also be determined by the technology you choose to run your business with.
Uplifting young people is a motivator for continuing with my entrepreneurship venture. My target market has been young people from under-serviced communities and previously disadvantaged areas. Uplifting young women who do not believe they can get the same opportunities that our male counterparts receive. Most importantly, to uplift these young women in believing that they can do well in the world of tech.
Who have been your biggest supporters through your journey? How have they been supportive?
My biggest support system is my family, my friends and a few of my colleagues. I have also received support from mentors in my professional and academic life, and conferences. Those mentors have played various roles in different stages of my life. My mom and sister have been the most supportive where I’m able to bounce off ideas with them.
What has also helped has also been surrounding myself with friends that are also entrepreneurial and who have similar interests.
Attending the #SheHiveJoburg event this November, in that short period of time, meeting amazing, young black woman who are also visionaries and have aspirations of their own. Those ladies have become key individuals in my networks.
What are your plans to ensure that Masana reaches a bigger audience and brings value to more people?
Masana is still at it’s very beginning stages. So far, we’ve successfully implemented the Africa Code Week initiative. A SAP Skills Development programme is in the works. It’s important that we also become more present, especially in the digital space. Growing digitally will, in essence, help in reaching bigger audience.
We’re also targeting learners from matric, so that they know about Masana and get acquainted with our skills initiatives. We’re working towards ensuring that the skills that school-leavers get are not only from university, but we also provide programmes that will make learners employable.
A quote from Shonda Rhimes from her speech at Dartmouth University; “The most interesting, happy, creative and engaged people are the ones who are doing”. Ditch the dream, and start doing. You don’t have to start when you have all the resources, or the right connections, or in the right space. You just need to start. Start small, start messy but you just need to start. Eventually you’ll get used to the idea that you are working towards something and all the right resources and networks will come.
At Masana, we don’t have all the right resources but the important thing is that we have started and people are showing interest in our initiative.
Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.
Do it Now Now is a crowdfunding platform that has the social development of Africa at its core. Founded by Bayo Adelaja, a research assistant at the London School of Economics, Do it Now Now helps supports social entrepreneurs in their quest to make a positive impact across Africa.
Bayo also hosts frequent StartUps for Africa events on Google Campus, in the heart of London’s Silicon Roundabout. We caught up with Bayo to find out a bit more about the Do it Now Now journey and the importance of social entrepreneurship right now.
Where did the passion for entrepreneurship come from?
I love working at the LSE, the work is great and so are my colleagues but I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit within me. The only way I could do that was by stepping out of my comfort zone and saying this is who I am, who I want to be and I’m not going to let anyone talk me out of it.
I had been talked out of it in the past when a company that was trying to buy another start-up I had tried to steal my idea. At that point I wasn’t good at saying I needed help or a support network to guide me on the journey. I realised that most people don’t have that support. They also lack the skills, knowledge and connections.
I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be great if I could help people to bridge the gap between who they are and who they want to be?
What is Do It Now Now?
Do it Now Now is a crowdfunding platform with an incubator attached to it. We help people raise up to £10,000 ($12,000) from their friends, family and other interested parties. Do it Now Now helps businesses organise their campaigns, their perks and rewards, the marketing, the budget, everything. We work with the startup from A to Z, giving them all the support they need over the course of a year to help them build a healthy, scalable and sustainable business.
My job at the LSE has helped a lot as. I saw that there was a gap between the amount of work that aid organisations can do and the amount of development needed on the continent. Social entrepreneurs and start-ups can be more flexible, quicker on the ground with more local knowledge of the community that they’re in.
That’s a huge advantage, and an opportunity for them to link up with other organisations in Africa who might be able to support them in one way or another. We also partner with incubators on the continent such as the Kumasi Hive, working with tech entrepreneurs in Ghana.
How does the fundraising process work?
You raise money with us and we help you grow. Then, we expect you to donate 20% of your gross income or £500 ($600), whichever amount it higher, to the charity that you chose at the beginning of your campaign. Do it Now Now collects commission that enables us to run the programme.
We also have Startups for Africa, the free version of the programme which brings together people who are interested in growing their businesses, fostering collaborations and getting a conversation started. We want to show people that it is possible to be a purposeful, conscious person and have a business that is not just about the money, but about people and causes; it’s a heart thing.
Money is great but being part of a community that cares about people and supports you is so much better.
How can social entrepreneurs be successful on the continent?
Do it Now Now is based on this principle: start now, plan now, do it now and do it well. Get on your feet and keep moving. So many of us have a good ideas that will change Africa but we spent too much time planning and researching. We’ve been relying on potential for years, if not decades.
I want people to see that it’s not difficult at all to be a purposeful business. Social entrepreneurship is a fantastic way to support Africa’s development and still support yourself financially. I’m not here to simply line my pockets and die rich, I’m here to help people and improve life on the continent.
If we have businesses that are strong, healthy and doing positive things it becomes good PR for Africa. Be passionate about your business, your people and the rest of the world will see it too. We need to recognise who we are, where we come from and build what’s needed —no one is going to do that for us. Africa is not a token, it’s not something you do on the side, you need to treat it with the respect that it deserves.
Well, I work about 80 hours a week: I wake up at 5am to build my business then go to work at 10am. Then I sleep and do it all over again, because I’m super passionate. Someone once told me ‘go the extra mile, because it’s usually empty’. If we just pivot the purpose of business we can make a truly sustainable and long-lasting impact.
How can a budding social entrepreneur get started?
Pick a problem and pick it wisely. It has to be something you’re passionate about, otherwise you’ll quit. You’ll quit quickly and you’ll leave people in the lurch. Pick something small and specific, then you can then blow it up and make it big. Always work with other people and look out for collaboration opportunities.
I go to as many meetings as possible because you never really know who you’ll meet. My favourite saying is; ‘you can’t see the holes in your own head’. You have no idea what the gaps are in your business because you’re too close to it, so you need others to step in and provide a different view.
Share your idea. I saw an SLA instagram post that said ideas alone aren’t worth very much. And while that may be controversial, it’s true. There are so many ideas you can have in a day, what counts is the implementation, your passion, your network, your influence and how you communicate.
Just make sure that you’re able to share the idea, because without people your ideas are nothing. Realise that you don’t have to fix every problem, you just have to start with one, and if it expands, fantastic.
…And what do you do with what’s left of your free time?
My sisterhood! I love hanging out with my girlfriends, chatting, having a coffee and chilling but then I’m back to work.
There are also many things I want to do and grow in —hiking, learning French, Mandarin, Korean, reading. I also love music, someone once told me that I have 132 playlists on Spotify! Above all I love working, because I’m passionate about it. I simply do what I love.
Want to see women you know featured on SLA? Tell us what amazing things women are doing in your communities here.