Lebogang Mashigo: Our role is to present platforms for discovering, expressing, empowerment and connecting

At first it was about numbers but now our focus is about quality and impact Click To Tweet

Lebogang Mashigo is a 27-year-old social entrepreneur from the former KwaNdebele region, currently Thembisile Hani, of South Africa. She is the founder and director of Nubreed Company and Music Institute.

She is a YALI (Young African Leaders Initiative Alumni in Business and Entrepreneurship, a Monash South Africa Lead (MSA Lead) fellow and was named the Mail & Guardian’s top 200 Young South Africans 2016. Lebogang is very passionate, brave and believes in her strength and that of others.

She has been nominated twice for the Women Real Architects of Society Awards. Lebogang has also been profiled on Mzansi Insider, On the Spotlight with Ashraf Garda as well as on Kicking Doors with DJ Sbu on CNBC Africa. She Leads Africa contributor, Kutlwano Mokgojwa catches up with her on all things Art, Music and youth empowerment.

What role does Nubreed have in the community and how does it fulfil that role?

Our role is to present platforms for discovering, expressing, empowerment and connecting. We started a just a music project that gave music lessons.

Today we have become more than just a music project. We educate, discover, empower and partner with young people and communities for change.

What effect does empowering the youth with music have? How has that inspired you to venture into the Visual Arts and Life skills?

Coming from a rural area where little is happening to stimulate young people growing up in the region of former KwaNdebele, I didn’t want to change the world, but I understood that young people are gifted and they can express themselves through music, it made sense to start NuBreed the music institute.

We are not changing people but we have inspired young people to be confident, to go after their dreams, to discover opportunities within the music/arts industry. Through workshops and many events, we host, young people, connect from those in the industry and learn from them. Working with young people helped us to discover other talents and needs which propelled us to create other platforms for visual arts, life skill workshops and business workshops.

It is all part of our mission to educate, empower and develop. We now host the biggest annual talent show in June called KwaNdebele Got Talent where we call for auditions and in June young come from all over the region to showcase their talents and compete for a big cash prize and other development opportunities.

Our role is to present platforms for discovering, expressing, empowerment & connecting @NubreedMI Click To Tweet

How has Nubreed been welcomed into the community, what relationships have you formed and how do these relationships help the organisation?

NuBreed is a recognised brand that is associated with youth, Change and Empowerment. We have been welcomed with open arms in the community.

We work with other community structures, we’ve worked with schools, churches and other NGOs. However, we still see room for more networks.

How old is your target market and what socio-economic challenges do they face?

As the music institute, we’ve worked with many young. At first, it was about numbers but now our focus is about quality and impact. So I will say we are growing our impact.

We're not changing people but have inspired young people to go after their dreams Click To Tweet

What kind of syllabus does your organisation follow and how has that helped with your partnership with the University of South Africa?

NuBreed uses the UNISA music syllabus to teach our students, we have UNISA accredited teachers and we do UNISA Music exams twice a year. This enables our students to receive UNISA music certificates and earn university credits.

Your organisation is a non-profit entity, how does that affect your operations in terms of funding and how do you manage the financial pressure?

Funding has been a big challenge. We are not formally funded. We have received donations from individuals now and then. But this has encouraged us to develop our own fundraising programme in-house.

We enter competitions for funds and we are always looking for partnerships. Now we are looking for opportunities to expand. All this is inspired by our need to sustain NuBreed.

What personal lessons have you learnt through your leadership of Nubreed?

Personal lessons: It is important to say no to some ideas.

It is important to say no to some ideas @leewaMashigo Click To Tweet

If you can spend a day in the life of anyone, living or dead, who would it be?

I would really like to be Oprah for a day. I would build art schools in rural areas.

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

Ifrah Arab: This is just not a joke for me

Ifrah Arab
We faced a lot of challenges being in a conservative community they weren’t ready to accept change Click To Tweet

Ifrah Arab is only 20 years old, but she is on a mission to alleviate poverty and inspire more women much older than herself into enterprise. Through this effort Ifrah was a 2016 Anzisha Prize finalist and a 2016 Echoing Green semifinalist quite a mean feat.

Ifrah grew up in Garissa town, a conservative community where women were never encouraged to have economic independence. In 2015, when her mother passed away, Ifrah felt the need to uplift mothers in her community. She founded SuperMom, a door to door distribution network that gives Kenyan women in disadvantaged areas access to quality and essential consumer products.

Within two years of operation, she now has 50 women now selling products door to door earning an income and making household items accessible to thousands. Ifrah hopes to draw in 2,000 women in the next two years and double their incomes.

How many commodities is SuperMom now selling door to door in Garissa County?

We sell a whole range of products. Our main ones are consumer goods which include sugar, salt, flour etc. mainly basic everyday use consumer products, clean green energy, sanitary products and health products.

Garissa has a relatively large Muslim population some of whom are conservative when it comes to women working. Has SuperMom encountered any challenges around this with the community?

Yes, we faced a lot of challenges mostly because of, as you said it, being a conservative community they weren’t ready to accept the change. Most of them saw it as a breach of culture and all that and we faced a lot of opposition.

Ifrah Arab personally interacts with the women in her SuperMom network. Click To Tweet

How are you overcoming this challenge?

We overcome this challenge by using a new tactic. We decided to first approach the community elders, religious leaders, local women groups and made them understand our mission.

This made it easier for us to then penetrate the larger community because now we had people they trust endorsing us.

You were a 2016 Anzisha Prize finalist, how has this experience improved your outlook and operations at SuperMom?

I learnt a lot from the Anzisha Prize. I met different young people from Africa who shared the same vision of making Africa great.

They were all young problem solvers aged between 15 and 22. It was wonderful being able to meet and build networks with people of the same mindset and share ideas.

You were also a semifinalist in the Echoing Green Fellowship of 2016? What are some of the lessons you learnt from that process?

I wasn’t able to make it to the finals for Echoing Green but the feedback they gave me after the selection process has helped SuperMom grow.

We were able to take in all the advice we got from them and that was really great.

What are some of the most successful pitching techniques you use when seeking funding for SuperMom?

When I am pitching SuperMom I always make sure I am clear and the audience clearly understands what SuperMom is all about. I also make sure to always show traction.

What we have done so far to earn that trust. I always give my story too. It makes people understand the reason why am doing this. That it’s just not a joke for me.

When I am pitching SuperMom I always make sure the audience clearly understands Click To Tweet

What keeps you going?

I personally interact with the women in our network. Every time I hear any of the women talking about how SuperMom has improved her life it motivates me to do more.

What big plans do you have in store for SuperMom?

The problem we are trying to solve is not unique to my community. Several other marginalised communities in Kenya face the same problem.

My vision is to expand and reach these other communities. We are also not covering all the products needed so also to form more partnerships so as to increase the number of products in our catalogue.

What’s the one thing you would not leave the house without?

My phone.

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