Can you tell us a little bit about your background – personal, educational and professional?
I am 26 years old, and from Orange Farm. I am an entrepreneur and started working at 16 years at a community radio station called Thetha FM. After matric I left radio to go to university, where I studied BCom Marketing. I wanted to study advertising but my mom couldn’t afford AAA School of Advertising. My dad passed away when I was 14-years-old so I was raised by a single parent. Towards the end of my degree I switched to Communication Science, which I am currently finishing off. In 2009 I started a promotions and marketing firm with friend called Feminine Touch. We ran for three years but closed down in 2011 due to different interests.
Can you tell us a little bit about your company and what you do?
Brains Empowerment was started in the back room of my home. We are a media and communications company. We publish the magazine Successful Woman, which is a hard copy magazine targeting women who have a startup business or who want to be professionals. The target audience is lower LSM which includes township and rural areas. We have also extended into radio shows for the magazine. We work with community radio stations discussing issues in the magazine, but more in depth. We also partner with organisations to empower our readers through workshops and training. The communications division does PR and marketing for other businesses.
“Media is an important mode of empowerment which can be used to transform and change people’s lives”
What were some of the obstacles you faced starting out, and how did you overcome them?
Firstly, my age. When I started in the magazine space I was young. Other challenges was my background, where I come from. When I applied for funding investors would see a young, black, inexperienced person from Orange Farm and wonder if they could trust that the magazine would work out. They would like the concept but because of my background I couldn’t get funding. I also had to deal with a lack of resources. I started out with just a laptop and modem.
How many people does your company employ?
Six full time and 40 interns. We are working in partnership with the Gauteng Entrepreneur Propeller which helps with skills development for young people. They asked if I could take 40 young people to train them in communications, media and other industries. They are all from different townships and backgrounds.
What is your overall vision for your business?
I want to have a media house which is able to publish magazines and newspapers, with a TV and radio channel focusing on entrepreneurship, leadership and empowerment. Media is an important mode of empowerment which can be used to transform and change people’s lives.
How did you finance your business, how difficult or easy was the process?
I went to NYDA” data-scayt-lang=”en_US”>NYDA in 2012 and applied for voucher to help build a website, but I raised money from friends and family to print the first issue of Successful Woman. With the second issue I got funding from the NYDA to print. Going forward I still had to raise money because a lot of money is needed for print production.
What are the three things you attribute your business success to?
Hardwork, commitment and prayer.
“If you know the recipe for hard work you can create your own luck and opportunity”
When did you know that you were an entrepreneur?
When I was young I was very entrepreneurial. My brother and I would sell sweets, but I would eat the profits. I was always looking for ways to earn extra money.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I am an open minded leader. I encourage creativity and want everyone to excel and to be comfortable. My passion is empowerment, if you don’t know someone you can’t empower them.
What are some of your favourite motivational books and motivational gurus that have inspired you in growing your business?
I’m part of the Unleashing Leadership Potential (ULP) lead by Morris Radebe. He mentors us. I am also inspired by my church. My bishop is passionate about leadership, you see from his leadership how to lead. Book-wise, I read Donald Trump. I’ve read Think Big and the Art of the Deal, they help a lot. I also read the bible.
What three pieces of advice would you offer young entrepreneurs starting out today?
– If you want to get into business you must be obsessed with what you are doing.
– Believe in yourself and have confidence because you will get a lot of no’s but you must be able to drive forward.
What’s the worst and best business advice you’ve ever received?
The best was from my dad who said to always keep my head up. It helps whenever I’m down, I know am best and can conquer and overcome.
And finally, do you believe in luck, hard work or both?
Hard work because if you know the recipe for hard work you can create your own luck and opportunity.