Rinae Sikhwari: I want to be a change driver

Meet Rinae Sikhwari, a 26-year-old young woman from Tshikwarani Village in South Africa. She currently resides in Polokwane finishing off her BCom Economics and Business Management from UNISA whilst working at New Leaders Foundation.

She is a fan of reading African literature books, watching series, traveling and discovering new places. Her favorite pastimes include going to food markets, organizing activities for the children in her home church, as well as watching TED Talks and writing. 


Rinae describes herself as a change driver and a learner at heart. She is an advocate for providing quality education, especially for children in disadvantaged communities.

Education has always been one of Rinae`s biggest passions and she strives to gain a stronger understanding of the complexities, challenges, and milestones of the South African Education System.

Part of this is to not only be a solutions bringer but also a change agent to see the education system transformed to cater to the needs of all the children across the country.

 

The South African Education Government spends 6.4% of its GDP on education, however, performance levels are lower than many other countries in the region. Not all children have access to the same quality of education, a legacy left behind by the apartheid government.

Rinae is a consultant at New Leaders Foundation, a non- profit organization that is committed to transforming South African Education. The Organisation founded the Data Driven Districts Dashboard Programme, an approachable, highly intuitive dashboard that displays appropriate education-related information to education officials at all levels in the South African Schooling system.

She emphasizes the importance of data – “Having accurate data ensures that informed decisions are being made, data determines all the decisions and interventions that need to be undertaken.”

Her work involves a lot of interaction with stakeholders from the department of education in driving data-driven conversations and decisions. Engagement with these stakeholders is based on data attained from schools through the South African School Management System.

“I’ve learned to understand how essential it is to have people skills and managing working relations with officials of different levels and rankings”. Her work ranges from assisting Department of Education officials from district directors to curriculum advisors and school principals attain data that will assist them to make informed decisions.Her work also takes her into the field where she can see firsthand how the policies of the Department of Education affect local communities.

“Working in the field has offered me the context to understand the data we extract from schools on a daily basis.” This has brought visibility of complexities of the department and an understanding of the massive gaps and inequalities in the education sector.

Central to her beliefs is the importance of advocating for the education of young women especially those that are growing up in areas where they are faced with so many socio-economic issues, who face so many challenges and a lot of the times education becomes a pillar and an enabler for them to defy the odds against them.

Her own upbringing in a rural village made her understand that it is through education that a woman becomes independent and attains opportunities.

“I am still such a firm believer that not only does education enable one to critically think and analyse but also education gives one the opportunity to be inquisitive, seek to explore and know more and the more you can do better, a learned/well-read/educated woman is able to challenge the status quo, I believe being educated gives one option and looking at how marginalized women are in society particularly black women it is imperative and essential for women to be educated.

Rinae established a reading club in the township of Seshego in 2015 for children aged between 4-14 years old, currently, the club has over 50 children and has strong support from the parents.

She describes the reading club as a platform for children to learn to read and write for enjoyment, it’s a space in which children learn mathematical, social and literacy skills.

“I’ve just observed how children enjoy our sessions and most of them have become avid readers, I love how they speak their minds and express their opinions that is actually what’s important for me.”

Rinae has always wanted to do work that has a meaning to her and her development as someone aspiring to be a change driver. What does this mean? Being a change driver means doing more to better her community whether it be through mentoring and tutoring or supporting community development initiatives started by her peers or young people from her village.

It also means giving a voice and a platform to those who need the change most- raising awareness about initiatives and shinning the spotlight on the developments in the community.


Know of anyone impacting your community? Share their story with us here.

Nomvelo Chalumbira: There are endless possibilities available to millennials now than there previously were

‘Lazy…entitled…’? Enough with the name calling!

Because some bold young ladies are challenging the way some describe millennials, and Africa is already celebrating their work!

Nomvelo Chalumbira, 23, recently graduated from Wits University where she studied journalism and is currently interning at Reuters Africa.

She is also the co-founder of Melenial Media, a digital-content platform created by two young black women, for young black women, with the aim of empowering them and supporting the great work they are doing in different spheres of society.  

What started as a blog is growing into a great media brand, and with a prestigious award already on their shelf, we thought we should get into the psyche of this aspiring media mogul, and also asked her to share some of her work with us.


What made you decide to start early, co-founding Melenial Media while still studying?

I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do after university and felt that my degree had not prepared me for the job market, but I was always interested in media, and after doing a blog with my friends for a year, I wanted to start something that represented me and other black millennial women.

My passion was to be a part of the change of the media landscape in South Africa and not rely on building a career at already-established media companies.

In my third year, my current partner and I saw a huge gap in the market of voices of millennial women of color, and thus Melenial Media was founded.

There is no set path to success Click To Tweet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Millennials have been called many (not so great) names, such as ‘the Me, Me, Me Generation”, as expressed in an article by a reputable magazine. What are your thoughts about this?

Times are very different and things are being done very differently. Many traditional industries have been disrupted and altered to suit the needs of the current generation.

For instance, the media industry is becoming more digital and fast-paced. We must all keep up with the new.

As an article in the Atlantic put it very well, “every generation has been a me, me, me generation”, so what is new?

How did you go from blogging to having an award winning media brand? What drives you as an entrepreneur?

It hasn’t been easy! Building a business has taught me discipline and perseverance, especially juggling studying full-time and doing Melenial. But, I absolutely love what I do and having the privilege to do what I love every day is a great blessing.

That has helped me get through the tough times, knowing that the reward is sweeter than the sweat. We try our best to be consistent and put out the best content.

Entrepreneurship is challenging but I have a great family support system. What’s even more exciting is being able to be a part of the advancement and empowerment of black women.

Please share some of your photojournalism work with us:

 

More Than a Barcode: Like identity, our sense of place is fluid; it changes as the place changes and as we change. One’s sense of place becomes part of their identity, and one’s identity affects the ways we define and experience a place. Therefore in the construction of identities, part of what one does is to instill place with meaning by attaching memories and experiences to the place.

 

Serene yet Strong: Mammy Setshogo fulfilling her regular duties of looking after and running a tavern household in Soweto. Here she is washing the household’s clothes and she looks serene, regal, strong and beautiful whilst doing a mundane chore.

 

 

 

How does Melenial Media aim to empower millennials and change such narratives about them?

Melenial Media showcases a diverse range of women doing great things in their respective fields. We are breaking down the stereotype and notion that there is one type of black woman.

The content you find on our site is interesting, fresh and relatable – not only to millennials but to any generation. We showcase that there is no set path to success.

Melenial Media shows that anything is possible if you believe enough in your vision.

We are breaking down the stereotype and notion that there is one type of black woman - @nomvelo_c Click To Tweet

From the work you have done so far with millennials, what potential do you think they have to make Africa even greater?

There are endless possibilities available to Millennials than there previously were. This makes the potential to do great things even greater.

With information, access, and opportunities available at our fingertips, millennials are creating their own opportunities and path.

Africa is a wealthy goldmine of opportunities and it’s all about seizing the moment and just going for it. And that is exactly what millennials are doing. They are not afraid to take a chance and create their own realities that suit them.

Africa is a wealthy goldmine of opportunities and it’s all about seizing the moment and just going for it. Click To Tweet

You won the ‘2016 Top Youth Culture Blog in Africa’ award in such a short space of time. What does the award mean to you and Melenial Media?

It was a humbling milestone to have reached in such a short time. It has made us realize that we are creating a sustainable business that is making a difference and contributing positively to society.

What we have created is something quite relevant in the current South African media landscape. We have started something unique, which I am extremely proud of.

...anything is possible if you believe enough in your vision. Click To Tweet

Got an article or a story to share with us? Share your story with us here.

8 Technology Hacks for your Growing Business

Whether you’re a new business owner or been in the game for a while, you all have one thing in common: you need to be on top of your game. Real talk. This is why I’ve put together eight of some of the easiest tools in this technology-driven world to propel your growing business.

Canva

Hands down, this is a favourite technology hack. It’s a simple graphic tool with thousands of templates at your disposal. Canva is great for designing Instagram and Facebook posts, posters, letterheads, infographics; in fact, all kinds of graphics. It’ll make anyone feel like a graphic designer. Certainly fuels my ego.

There’s a mobile version available too; and it’s free. Happy customizing!

PicMonkey

PicMonkey is my favourite photo-editing tool. There’s a free version with limited options, but it allows you edit, make collages selecting from a ton of templates, add text, resize and more. It’s also great for creating watermarks. You can choose the paid version if you require more features.

PicMonkey is amazing if you deal with a lot of content!

Hootsuite

Hootsuite is gold. This hack allows you schedule and sync your content across your social media pages. You can mention other social media handles whilst drafting in Hootsuite (and see if they’re the right ones). It’s great for shortening lengthy links as well.

Save time by scheduling up to thirty posts at a time!

Calendly

Calendly is a great tool for setting appointments. It’s a convenient way to send your availability to clients by sending them your link through which they can book a slot. Once the client books, you will receive an email confirming this. It will also be added to your calendar on Google and send you a timely reminder.

It makes perfect sense!

Office Lens

Maybe I’m just really lazy, but I use Office Lens to scan all my documents when I’m away from my desk. It’s great for emailing copies of documents on the go and is a lot tidier than using the camera on your phone. With Office Lens you can crop and make simple adjustments, save and even convert to Powerpoint or PDF.

What are you still waiting for? Download this tool now!

Fiverr

Fiverr is a freelance site with a large pool of sellers offering services for a lean $5 and upwards. There are basic tasks you may wish to outsource as a business owner, to enable you focus on your core. Browse through Fiverr for services such as business writing, video, branding, graphics work. There’s also Fiverr Pro for more technical, professional work.

Check reviews carefully before you buy!

Trello

Trello is amazing and absolutely easy to use. It’s like a little personal assistant that helps you keep track of the work you and your team have scheduled. You can update plans for the team to see and move across different stages. You can make checklists and add key team members to activities.

It’s fun and highly useful!

Quickbooks

Major hack here! This helps sort out your business accounting with an annual fee. You can keep track of payments, send invoices (and include your business logo), manage different customers’ finances. It can also be used on multiple devices. The best part is all your data is backed up.

It’s quite a technical tool so you’ll need to undergo a tutorial or training!

I got you covered with these technology hacks to meet your business needs from graphics, to accounting, to personal organisation, but there are tons of other good ones. So make sure to research and ask around.


Let us know here, which other technology hacks you love!

Sharon Moatshe: A PR Business Must Not Over-Promise and Under-Deliver

sharon-moatshe

From the dusty streets of Kagiso township in Gauteng, South Africa, Sharon Moatshe has  tapped into the world of entrepreneurship at a young age, and believes that she can create whatever door she wants to open. After many months of looking for a job after graduating, the solution was simple, start a business with the limited resources that she had and survive.

Currently, she is the Director and Co-founder( along with Unathi Dingiswayo) at PR House of Creatives, a motivational speaker, wife and mother.

In her words: she didn’t believe she would end up so great; but here we are. Take a walk with us in this interview as we look into Sharon’s amazing work, and how she’s helping startups thrive in South Africa.


Take us on a walk through PR House of Creatives

PR House Of Creatives was co-founded by Sharon Moatshe and Unathi Dingiswayo after a long time spent job searching, and the resultant unhappiness of not seeing the change we wanted to see in our lives for ourselves.

We were then able to identify the necessity of PR and marketing, pertaining to brand management for SME’s within our community.

 

What support systems are critical to companies like yours?

Financial backing to ensure that costs are covered for: the technology used in ensuring we deliver real-time results, keeping up with current news & trends, graphics for content. As well as for our PR travels.

Another important thing is mentorship from big PR Firms and structures. PR is not an easy industry for businesses to remain sustainable, your business many come and go because of lack of mentorship.

 

sharon-moatshe

 

What innovations have helped your business stand out from competitors?

For a previous client of ours, Distinkt Vodka, we made media kits with vodka bottles and we had packaged these in potato bags, because the primary ingredient of vodka is potatoes. We draw our inspiration from client products/ services, and conceptualise from that point.

 

What challenges have helped your company grow over the years?

We have had challenges with regards to what we charge our clients. We have had to learn that SME’s are still growing and not making much money, but ,we must still charge a price that allows us to grow and sustain our business.

 

Know your WHY, your business exists as a solution to a problem Click To Tweet

 

What values are critical for success in the PR business?

Intergrity. A PR business must not over promise and under deliver! Always be a person of your word. Execute and do your very best to match the concept you sold your client.

 

 

What is your greatest success story thus far?

Our greatest success story has to be TG Foods and Events! We started with the team in the township when they were starting out, we poured our hearts into our work with TG. After a few months of working together the team got their own shop which they cater food from in an uptown busy market! The place is big and beautiful.

The teams understands the importance of their brand, even when they keep growing they continued using our services! It’s been beautiful watching them grow from strength to strength and knowing our creative team is a part of this journey.

 

Always be a person of your word Click To Tweet

 

What’s the next step for your company? Any plans to help small businesses outside the shores of South Africa?

We would love to first help small businesses in South Africa grow and sustain that growth, then certainly the rest of Africa will have a piece of our goodness!

The first thing businesses cut-out when they sinking/struggling is marketing and PR, which is more like stopping the clock to save time. We want to re-introduce to Africa what amazing impact PR can have for a business.

 

We want to re-introduce to Africa what amazing impact PR can have for a business. Click To Tweet

 

 

One phrase that resonates with your business strategy?

Creative team of all trades and master of all!


Do you run a PR company?

Let us know more about you and your story here.

Women at Wave: Empowering Young Africans Beyond the Limits

Wave Academies is a vocational training platform which aims to empower millions of disadvantaged West African youth. With skills that transform their mindset and employment opportunities that enhance their social mobility.

Misan Rewan is the founder of WAVE Academy. Born and raised in Nigeria, Misan plays a vital role in the transformation of Nigeria’s education and skill development sectors. She has worked in management consulting with The Monitor Group on a wide spectrum of projects in both the private and public sector. She also supported aspiring Ivoirian entrepreneurs through, TechnoServe’s Business Plan Competition; and developed a scholarship administration model as a consultant with the Center for Public Policy Alternatives in Nigeria. Misan supported Bridge International Academies’ international expansion strategy, and  is a Draper Richards Kaplan Social Entrepreneur.

Noella Moshi is the Programs Lead at WAVE.  She was on the founding team of African Leadership University (ALU) Education where she directed Marketing, and worked on the curriculum. Noella co-developed Goodbye Malaria, a social impact venture that works with private and non-profit organisations to eliminate malaria. She is a Mandela-Rhodes scholar, and a Praxis Fellow.

Ifeanyi Okafor  grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. She is passionate about helping young people discover themselves.

Aissatou Gaye  is a Senegalese citizen who works as a Finance Coordinator at WAVE. She is currently helping the organization draft its way towards financial sustainability through various revenue diversification and cost reduction strategies.  Aissatou is also the co-founder of YAWcamp, a summer camp that focuses on developing critical, creative and proactive thinking among Senegalese youth.

Amina Lawal is the training operations coordinator at WAVE. She is skilled in communication, research and creative writing.  She firmly believes that having the balanced 360 degrees life is possible and steadily strives to have such balance. When she is not working, Amina writes for various blogs.

We share the amazing story of these great women and how their awesome work at WAVE is creating the next generation of change drivers.


What was the driving force that lead to creating WAVE?

Lifting John Stott’s definition of vision as: a deep dissatisfaction with what is and a clear grasp of what could be, I’d say the driving force behind starting WAVE was a deep dissatisfaction with the state of affairs for West African youth.

There are over 40 million unemployed youth in West Africa, but beyond the statistics are real faces, people like you and I, whose reality is chronic unemployment, disillusioned poverty and a loss of dignity that leads to growing levels of frustration across the region.

WAVE was an attempt to stop complaining and to do something about it. So a few friends got together in a room and started designing a solution. Enter WAVE – an attempt to level the playing field for hardworking young people by teaching them the skills required to get a good job, increase their incomes and build a brighter future

 

 

What has been the biggest challenge(s) you’ve faced and how have you crossed each hurdle?

Biggest challenge faced has probably just been me dealing with my own insecurities (imagined and real) and coaching has been helpful in crossing the hurdle. I don’t hear enough leaders in this part of the world talk about their shortcomings and how they’ve built support networks to deal with them, and I’m no different.

So overcoming has been through everything, from having a coach who helps bring self-awareness to my “automaticities” (my default way of responding) and helps me generate my best self, to family and friends who “hold the space” for me to JUST BE (rather than DO), to the serenity prayer that helps me discern where to focus my brain cells, effort and anxiety. I could give you a laundry list of other challenges faced but the critical challenge/hurdle is dealing with me first so I can see most other challenges as opportunities for learning and growth.

 

I see most challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow Click To Tweet

 

What values have been crucial to your success in the business world?

Inclusiveness – Most of what drives me comes from a simple notion I’ve had since I was a kid, of not wanting poor people to be poor.

At WAVE today, this value translates as “Putting People First” – from the people we exist to serve, to our team who does the serving to our partners who support our service. Our clients see how we have designed our model, service delivery and feedback culture to put them first and so are able to be very forgiving when we slip up, give us feedback and grant us a second chance to make it right.

 

 

 

What principles and skills are necessary for young people to possess in order to excel in today’s world?

There are three things I think are important for success: Knowing your “why”: Understand what motivates you, and connect it to whatever work you are doing. For example, I care about learning for the sake of personal growth. That’s my “why”. As long as I am doing work that pushes me to stretch beyond my current capabilities, my “why” is being fulfilled.

Learning from everyone: Everyone has something to teach us, and if at any point we aren’t learning, then we need to look harder for the lessons. One of my favourite things about working at WAVE is that each person brings insights from their unique experiences; from the driver to an intern, to the people we serve.

Trusting yourself. No one knows you better than you know yourself. Take advice from everyone, but at the end of the day, whatever decision you make must come from you, so that you can stand by it. That way you avoid regret, and you avoid living someone else’s life.

 

What innovations have helped in achieving the set goal at WAVE, and how exciting is it to train young people of diverse background and see them become more equipped Africans?

Our goal at WAVE is to increase income for unemployed youth. We do this by screening youth for attitude and motivation, training them on employability skills, and then matching them to job opportunities, where they can earn while they learn.

Our most powerful innovation has been to integrate “paradigm change” throughout our process. End to end, we focus on helping youth to mentally connect the dots from where they are, to where they want to be. After WAVE, youth who had dreams but no belief that they could achieve them, can now see how their current efforts will lead them to the next step of the ladder to wherever they want to go. Their self-image also changes: After WAVE, they no longer say “I can’t do this”. Instead they say: “I can’t do this yet”.  And that mindset shift makes all the difference.

 

 

Everyone has something to teach us, and if at any point we aren’t learning, then we need to look harder for the lessons Click To Tweet

 

 What mechanism are necessary for facilitating trainings at the Academy?

A trainee must be between 18 and 35 years old, they must agree to the terms and conditions of the training. The trainer and the training operations coordinator must be physically and mentally ready. We make sure each training cycle runs at it’s optimum best.

 

What tools and support are relevant for young people in the course of their advancement and what kind of partnership would be vital to this?

We provide absolute in-house trainers and also external facilitators who are experts in their fields to train these young people. We also provide ”on the job” support for them, by arranging workshops, alumni panel and counselling.

A partnership with Google could help with the ICT angle, covering the fundamentals of computer skills and basic software they need to know about. Also, the social media angle, most of the jobs we get are evolving, so many of our employers want people with computer skills, or those who can use social media.

 

 

 

What support system has been relevant in helping WAVE thrive over the years?

The success of WAVE over the past three four years has been a combination of multiple factors. The level of engagement and passion from our staff to deliver a rigorous and excellent model. To make access to economic opportunities easier for young underprivileged youth, the financial support we receive from our funders and their commitment to the vision that we are after, and last but not least our employer partner network who are willing to hire based on soft skills, instead of proxies like degrees.

 

How impactful have the programs at WAVE been over the years, and what kind of investors are you looking to work with in the future?

WAVE’ s reach has grown a lot over the past four years. Since our inception in 2013, we were able to train over 1600 youth on employability skills and place over 800 of them on jobs in the hospitality and retail industries, of which a good number was able to double their income after a year on the job.

We however still have a long way to go to reach the numerous unemployed youth in Nigeria and across West Africa; we cannot do the job alone. We are currently codifying our magic to share with different stakeholders that could effectively reach our target market and bring about the change we want to see: a world where every young person is equipped enough to move up the economic ladder.

 

 

What’s the one phrase that resonates for WAVE and why?

The resonating phrase at WAVE is “Start small, Learn fast and Grow big”. The reason behind this is that we believe and understand that the soft skills we train on are vital to the achievement of career goals. Success is not achieve overnight, but it takes consistent conscious steps towards the achievement of success. WAVE is one of those conscious steps to career growth.

 

Start small, Learn fast and Grow big Click To Tweet

 

What recent achievements have re-echoed the growing impact of WAVE?

One of the recent achievements that re-echoes at WAVE is the increment of our Alums average Salary to N33,000. It is an achievement for us because this is what we set out to do; increasing the income of youth who do not stand a fighting chance in our economy today.

 

Tell us your favourite destination country?

My dream destination country is America because of the limitless career growth  opportunities available.


Are you doing any impactful work to empower unemployed youth?

Let us know more  here.

5 minutes with SheHive London 2017 speaker: Minna Salami

Minna Salami is a Nigerian-Finnish writer, blogger and commentator who has contributed to the popularisation of African feminism through her blog, MsAfropolitan


On woman empowerment:

At the risk of sounding too spiritual, or something, let me first say that I believe that if there is a purpose to life, then it is self-actualisation. Some might call this “becoming the highest version of yourself”.

 

Challenges facing professional women.

I would say, firstly, the absence of adequate constitutional rights. Secondly, the absence of a robust civil society fighting for adequate constitutional rights. The absence of both disturbs the smooth flow of a woman’s professional life.

 

Women feeling whole and complete.

We need to cultivate a culture where women feel the opposite of lack, namely a sense of wholeness. Women working in male dominant fields, as most women are, need to cultivate a sense of inner acceptance that they are enough just as they are, which will enable them to want the same for others.

Hear Minna speak at SheHive London 2017: https://sheleadsafrica.org/shehivelondon2017/ Click To Tweet

On Economic growth…

The question women should be asking is: How is the money they are contributing to the economy benefiting women? The system should work for us and not vice versa. Put it this way, gender equality is indeed necessary for economic growth, but economic growth is not the only reason we want gender equality.

 

African women and feminism.

It is in Africa that I have encountered women with the most dedication to the feminist revolution; women who do not pander to patriarchal narratives, and women who inject a deep humanism and criticism to the global feminist discussion.


To hear more from Mina Salami and her world changing creative pursuits, get a ticket to our SheHive London event on the 24th of September.

 

Mmabatho Mokgadi: I want to see Colorsofthearth among the list of top tea brands across Africa

Mmabatho Mokgadi from Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, Is the founder of Colorsofthearth. An organic loose leaf tea company specializing in herbal and fruit blends.  Currently she is also a full- time student at the University of South Africa, completing her second year towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Science and Social Services. Mmabatho loves yoga and is passionate about tea, particularly the medicinal components of herbal plants.

When she is not reading on community psychology and the functioning of public services in South Africa, she is running her business from home.

I have a good support system from friends and family who encourage me Click To Tweet

Who is Mmabatho?

I am the founder and tea tailor of Colorsofthearth. Currently I’m  studying full-time at the University of South Africa, doing my second year towards a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Science and Social Services.

I’m passionate about tea, particularly the medicinal components of herbal plants. My current read is on Prof Maurice M. Iwu’s “handbook of African medicinal plants”. I enjoy yoga, great food and I’m always up for an adventure.

 

What is Colorsofthearth?

Colorsofthearth is an organic loose leaf tea company, with teas sourced locally and internationally. I specialise in handcrafted fruit tea blends (using spices, herbs and dried fruits) and herbal tea.

 

How did you find a gap in the market for your business?

When I established Colorsofthearth in 2015, all I knew was that I loved tea. As a result I had lost weight drinking yerba mate, white tea and green tea and my skin was looking healthier. I wanted to share this insight with people.

I have extensive knowledge of the product because I used to work for one of South Africa’s leading tea franchises, The Tea Merchant. During this time I grew to learn that tea repairs and builds from the inside out. Even after I left The Tea Merchant the love for the tradition of tea continued.

Soon I began making my own blends, playing around with herbs and dried fruits. When friends came over I would serve them the tea I made and they liked it a lot. A close friend of mine encouraged me to start my own business, saying that I’m “the tea person” because there’s nothing I didn’t know about tea.

The tea industry is growing rapidly and I want to see Colorsofthearth among the list of top tea brands across Africa.

 

How has the market responded to Colorsofthearth?

In February 2017 I took Colorsofthearth to the South African Broadcasting Company canteen and the response was positive, there was a lot of interest and support.

I have also exhibited at Market Esque in Soweto, but this crowd was different because most people were not interested in tea. I’m aware that people still have a certain stereotype about tea, which is: it is boring and should be consumed only if you are sick.

But, I can say though that the response has been more positive than it has been negative and there is ample room for improvement and growth.

 

What are three key business lessons you have learnt since running Colorsofthearth?

  • Persistence
  • How to manage finances
  • The importance of market research.

 

How do you balance your studies and running Colorsofthearth?

I write out weekly and daily schedules which help me distribute time evenly. Although at times I give more attention to school work when I have assignments due or i’m preparing for exams. In addition to that, I use resources on SLA’s website regarding balancing studies and running a business.

Overall I have a good support system from friends and family who encourage me and keep up to date with my progress.

What are two challenges you have faced and overcome as Colorsofthearth?

In 2016 I lost all hope and drive to keep Colorsofthearth running after my contract ended as a sales assistant at a kids clothing store. This happened a few months after I established Colorsofthearth.

I could not afford the apartment I was staying in and had to move back home. The move did not make it easy. I was back home, no call backs for interviews and a failing business. It was challenging financially to keep Colorsofthearth running.

But, In January of 2017 I decided to step out of my “hopelessness” mode and took it upon myself to finish the things I had started. Firstly, complete my undergraduate; I registered with UNISA and applied for funding, which was approved. I remember the excitement that came with the prospect of finally getting my degree!

Secondly, I needed to pick my business up again. I had to go back to the drawing board and determine why I registered my business in the first place. I soon realised it was because of my passion for tea and the desire to create and provide a product that is healthy, sourced locally and refreshing. Communities like She Leads Africa helped me gain my self confidence and purpose again.

Mmabatho Mokgadi: I want to see Colorsofthearth among the list of top tea brands across Africa Click To Tweet

What keeps you inspired to run your business each day?

My mother, my vision board and prayer.

 

What is your three year growth plan for Colorsofthearth?

My plan in the next three years is to supply hotels, restaurants and delis around Johannesburg and across South Africa. Either employ one person or find a partner that I can work with in running the business. Have an iced tea range. Build an online store with worldwide shipping. Travel and form relationships with tea plantation farmers in Africa: Kericho Kenya, Satemwa Malawi and Tanzania.

In one sentence, how will you like to be remembered?

A holistic wellness brand.

Instagram: @colorsofthearth

Facebook: colorsofthearth

Twitter: @colorsofthearth


Are you in the tea business or aspire to be?

Let us know more about you and your story here.

Thabiso Mahlape: I want to grow the amount of South African black authors in the industry

Thabiso Mahlape
We chat to Thabiso Mahlape, about her publishing imprint, Blackbird Books Click To Tweet

Publishing aficionado, Thabiso Mahlape has been on our radar for quite some time now. Her publishing imprint, Blackbird Books has garnered a lot of success and already has memoirs and autobiographies by big names under its belt. Blackbird Books aims to bring stories by black authors to life, giving them a voice and a platform to grow and hone their skills as successful authors.

Being the first black woman with her own publishing imprint has had its challenges, but Thabiso makes it known that she is doing an incredibly important job of making sure that our voices, stories, and talents are being seen and heard. Below, Thabiso tells us how she is exposing black talent, one paperback at a time.


How did you get into the publishing industry?

I got into the industry by chance. I had done engineering for about 4 years before deciding to study for my first love, journalism. I didn’t get in to do journalism but my guidance counselor suggested I try publishing. After studying I didn’t have a job for 3 years until I landed an internship at Jacana Media, and my career took off from there.

Please tell us more about your brainchild, Blackbird Books?

Blackbird Books is pretty much the extension of the work that I was doing at Jacana. I wanted to expose stories that are unapologetically black and written by black people. After I had my daughter in 2014, I decided to finally venture into developing Blackbird.

Have you had any challenges as a woman, when it comes to making it in the industry?

As the first black woman to have my own imprint I have been undermined by all men, black or white. I have even been undermined by black women. I was walking with one of my author’s one day and my white male colleague told him, “if you’re looking for a real publisher, come speak to her” pointing at a white woman. I’ve had all kind of backlash, but that’s not to say that I have not been embraced by those that love Blackbird.

What are you currently reading?

The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna.

I wanted to expose stories that are unapologetically black and written by black people Click To Tweet

What problematic issues have you picked up from being in the publishing industry, especially as a black person?

The publishing industry is extremely white. It was definitely not representative of the majority of the country, but it is making progress as time goes by. More and more black authors are being exposed and the status quo is changing.

What inspired the name, Blackbird?

The name was suggested by a colleague of mine at Jacana. The name stems from the Nina Simone song called “Blackbird”. The song refers to the struggles of a black woman and how that woman wants to spread her wings but finds a lot of difficulty in this due to societal issues bringing her down.

What future plans do you have for the publishing imprint?

Some plans I can’t spill just yet but I want to see Blackbird grow and solidify it as a publishing house. I want it to be a platform for black people to find themselves and grow the amount of South African black authors in the industry.

What advice do you have for young black women who want to break into the industry they love?

Invest in your work, put in the time and work really hard at it. We live in this “Instagram” time where everything is seen and instant gratification is important. You cannot get anywhere without working really hard. Make sure you are doing the right thing, which is what you want and are most passionate about.


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

Morongwa Maifo: You are never too old to learn or too young to teach

Morongwa Maifo
Mo combines her love for chemistry, fashion, and literature in her daily life and hustles Click To Tweet

It is a public secret that the future of the Africa we envision lies solely in the hands of each and every young individual who dares to dream. The inclusion of women in various decision-making positions has better positioned and equipped young women to step up in their entrepreneur journey.

Barriers are continuously being smashed, as the African girl dares to take over, below is an interview with Morongwa Maifo, the owner of VintageKlozet. Morongwa, aka Mo, is a young woman determined to let her passion become her success ladder.


Hi Morongwa can you briefly tell us who you are and what you are currently up to?

I’m a young dynamic phenomenal woman named Morongwa Nesly Maifo. I’m just an ordinary person who grew up in a normal background. My journey has been very challenging, especially not growing around parents. I spent most of my growing years with my brother, as my parents were at home in the village. I can say that I started learning responsibilities of doing things by myself at an early age.

Growing up I had low self-confidence, I have always been that young girl who would do anything to buy a friendship or try harder to make sure people accept me. Nobody ever taught me it should start with you. But these happened for a purpose as it’s now revealing itself.

I enrolled for my first degree at the University of Witwatersrand in Chemistry, am currently in the completion of my honors degree in Chemical engineering. I also obtained a certificate in sales and marketing with Unisa.

All I’m up to right now is the new baby VintageKlozet and Club Readership.

Chemistry, fashion, and literature are worlds apart, tell us how you manage the playing field you have occupied?

In my growing up journey, I realized I get bored easily with routine. I’m an explorer, a huge fan of learning, and I’m more progressive when I learn various aspects of content. At the at the end, I noticed how everything is interconnected.

I enrolled for Chemistry with Chemical Engineering because I have always been fascinated by science. I want to become an engineer. My most motivation in obtaining this degree is to contribute back to society by using the knowledge I have gained to solve daily problems.

Growing up, I suffered a lack of confidence in speaking, reading, and writing, specifically in English. Because this bothered me a lot, I started reading books from high school, and slowly I found reading fascinating. This hobby continued until varsity, I started reading a lot, especially motivational books.

I have always loved clothes, initially, I underestimated it because I thought it was just a women’s thing. It became unique when I would play with my mother’s wardrobe. That lead me to notice that I’m not a fan of trendy fashion, then I finally figured my sense of fashion is vintage.

I'm not a fan of trendy fashion, my sense of fashion is vintage - Morongwa Maifo Click To Tweet

As VintageKlozet aptly describes, what motivated you to start your own vintage retailing business and how responsive has been your target market?

I have always been motivated by Bonang Matheba especially when she said, “If you love something, get someone to pay you for loving that thing, then you will never work in your entire life”. I started VintageKlozet because of my passion and love for old style, and how I have found myself through this styling sense.

As a final year student, I have never believed I was sent to college so I can work for someone else. I have always believed as African men and women, we all have the skills to start our own companies and improve our economic status as well as that of the future generation. As the business just recently started, the response has been good so far, most people seem to fall in love with the culture of vintage, how unique it is and how it tells the story. So far, I have got responses as far as Cape Town, and few people from Zimbabwe.

How important has social media been to your business and what lessons can other aspiring fashion retailers get from you?

I’m still in the journey of learning and exploring diverse ways to market the business and establish it. There is so much power in social media because so far 80% of sales VintageKlozet has made are from social media, particularly Facebook and Instagram. Obviously, there are many ways to advertise, but so far these have shown a positive response to the business.

I have never believed I was sent to college so I can work for someone else Click To Tweet

You mentioned that you are also CEO of Club Readership, briefly tell us what it is all about?

Club Readership it’s a book club before everything. It is created for readership in Africa, focusing on African literature, of course by African authors. This is the institution that noticed a gap of reading outside academics in Africa and is determined to bring back the culture of reading in a fashionable manner.

It believes we all have stories to tell and to embrace. It would like to improve and celebrate the culture of reading mainly in black communities. As it promotes this culture of reading, it ensures to produce relevant material for Africa, therefore it publishes books. Club Readership encourages people to write and makes it easy for them to publish, for more info, people can visit our website.

How challenging have all your roles been?

Honestly, challenges serve an opportunity to grow you as a person. I have found myself doing uncomfortable things but turned my being into effective. It is challenging, but it is the enthusiasm of learning that keeps me pressing forward each day, therefore I embrace challenges.

Aspiring young business women out there are dying to know how you balance your family, academic and business life. Tell us how do you do it?

I have never come across a programmed equation for balancing life. It always brings me back to prioritizing and ensuring every second is utilized effectively. Through falling and failing, I learn what is more important and less important.

I’m one that lives by the power of the law of attraction. What I send to the universe, I get the same frequency back. Therefore, I ensure I always release positive frequency into the universe even when it becomes hard. I’m a very strong spiritual human being. When I’m at peace, happy and content, people around me, family and friends automatically become happy. That’s how I manage my relationships with them.

When I’m in good health, good spirit, I work better, be it in academics or business. So in short, I firstly manage the person from within, she is the one who guides me to manage my other important aspects of life.

So who or rather what motivates Morongwa?

I always call it a blessing to be surrounded by people who see the best in you even when you are numb. People who see a potential in you and can actively help you to unleash it. These are the two young leaders, who are not celebrated every day, very humble, but they touch thousands of lives every day.

They motivate me, I call them doers of things. One of them is Mafule Moswane, author, and chairman of the most amazing non-profit called Faculty of Best Advisory (FBA) that is changing the education of black children. The other is the president of Club Readership, Sbusiso Gama, author, and entrepreneur, also serving as the CEO of FBA.

These are the two young leaders who don’t judge and have effortlessly given their time to serve the community. They are my pillars at this moment and keep me going forward.

Describe your fashion sense in five words and what’s your fashion must have item in 2017?

My fashions sense in five words:

  • Vintage
  • Comfortable
  • Buttoned
  • High wasted
  • 80-inspired

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

Zizipho Dyubeni: I understood the struggle of having inconsistent income

Zizipho Dyubeni
Zizipho Dyubeni is behind an agency built on the premise of heightening the voice of creative Africa Click To Tweet

Zizipho Dyubeni is a communications specialist and entrepreneur from Cape Town, South Africa. She uses her creativity to promote and uplift fellow entrepreneurs in the township areas where she grew up. Through her company Blue Apple Concepts, Zizipho curates and organises bespoke events aimed at entertaining and empowering the youth, especially those interested in entrepreneurship.

One such event is the popular GlamHour, which serves as a platform for fledgling entrepreneurs in the beauty industry to showcase their work, network and gain new clients. The events also offer pampering massage sessions, facials, nail therapy and fresh delicacies for women who want to unwind in style- a rare and novel treat to the township areas of Khayelitsha. Then there’s the Lingerie Fair, aimed at encouraging young women from disadvantaged areas to openly talk about sex and practice healthy lifestyles.

Apart from the pioneering strides, she’s made in the entertainment industry, Zizipho is also a speaker, entrepreneur, event coordinator, concept developer, a freelance communications specialist, content producer and a much-loved radio personality for 2OceansVibe, an online streaming radio station.

Being such an inspiration, we just had to share her amazing story with you, our SLAy community, and find out what makes this ambitious creative tick.


Tell us about yourself. Who is Zizipho Dyubeni?

I am a young 27-year-old mom to 8-year-old Storm. I grew up in Milnerton where I went to high school. With a passionate love for all things creative, I furthered my studies at the University of the Western Cape where I later dropped out due to financial constraints.

Fast forward nearly 8 years later I have created a creative agency built on the premise of heightening the voice of creative Africa, work in media. I enjoy a life wonderous and eventful! I am also an events coordinator with a specific interest in women related lifestyle eventing.

What inspired you to start BlueAppleEye Concepts and where do you get the inspiration for all these innovative event concepts that you’ve come up with?

I was and still am a freelancer, I understood the struggle and pain of having inconsistent income.

The main idea behind the Creative Corner is to regulate work activity for creative freelancers and in doing so creating a solid creative e-commerce.

What challenges have you had to overcome on your journey in the entertainment and communications industries?

I would be lying if I said I have overcome a lot of the challenges, the creative industry is one that requires resilience. Right now our biggest struggle is merging business rationale with the creative concept.

Tell us about your other creative and business pursuits…

I am an influencer, MC, vocalist and radio DJ outside of running a small business.

Zizipho Dyubeni: The creative industry is one that requires resilience Click To Tweet

How do you manage to remain focused and disciplined to keep up with such a packed schedule?

My work does not feel like work. I am passionately living out my dream every day, on hard days I cry and pray. My family, friends and business partner keep me grounded.

What are your plans for the future?

For my business to grow into the biggest service agent in Africa housing plus 200 000 or more freelancers with sufficient work monthly.

That is the biggest dream.

My work does not feel like work. I am passionately living out my dream every day Click To Tweet

What do you do for fun and relaxation?

I party, read, listen to jazz and spend time with my loved ones.

What are the 4 skills you had to learn/use when entering the entertainment and communications industries?

  1. Listening
  2. Collaborating
  3. Paying attention to detail
  4. Concept development

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