SA's Social Entrepreneurs Speak Out!
5 entreps on why they grind, overcoming the odds and being part of the solution
All month long SME South Africa will highlight young entrepreneurs, innovators and influencers who are shaping the future, as part of our Youth Month 2017 coverage. Follow #YouthAmplified on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
Social entrepreneurs are in the entrepreneurship game for slightly different reasons. More than just the money, these individuals are solving both big and small challenges within their communities - everything from poverty and unemployment to the lack of access to clean water and sanitation that affect large parts of the continent.
They are proof that profit doesn't have to come before people.
"What's important for us [social entrepreneurs] is that financially we are sustainable, so that we can extend our reach and we can continue to make a real difference through the good we do. If we are unsustainable, we can’t do any good," says Bathabile Mpofu who is the founder of Applied Sciences, a social enterprise which provides access to scientific laboratory equipment to students who attend under-equipped schools.
Mpofu is part of the Red Bull Amaphiko Academy 2017 intake.
"We are resourceful, we persevere with limited opportunities, we navigate past gatekeepers, we are innovators, we have a driving passion to make things happen"
The incubator for grassroots social entrepreneurs, last month had six local startups working with world-leading innovators, entrepreneurs and storytellers to get the inspiration, mentorship and the practical know-how to take their projects to the next level.
2017's innovative new business ideas range from financial literacy, to portable grow-boxes for vegetables, water purification, medical devices, mini science kits for school learners, and more.
We speak to 5 of the 2017 class to find out the real truth about being a social entrepreneur and why the perception of youth empathy is outdated.
BATHABILE MPOFU (DURBAN): Applied Sciences
Through her company, Applied Sciences, Mpofu has developed a mini science kit called ChemStart for high school learners to use at home and school. It’s a portable laboratory designed to expose young people who don’t have access to those kinds of facilities at schools to the wonder of science and experiments as early on as possible.
I am a social entrepreneur because ... I want to help young people to become the scientists they dream to be, which is an opportunity I lost.
What many people don't know about being a young entrepreneur is ... you do not become a millionaire overnight!
What young entrepreneurs need is ... to believe that the source of power they need to achieve their goals lies within themselves.
What the government and corporates can do to support young entrepreneurs is ... provide guidance and access to market and not to design solutions without consulting young entrepreneurs on what exactly they need.
WHITNEY JACOBS (JOHANNESBURG): Employ Me South Africa
Whitney Jacobs is the founder of Employ Me South Africa. Her online platform simplifies the recruitment process and allows job seekers to create online video CVs. It’s an incredibly nifty, time saving concept.
I am a social entrepreneur because ... I have the opportunity to affect social change through innovation and to change the narrative. Providing people with the platforms to change their lives, has changed mine completely.
What many people don't know about being a young entrepreneur is ... we are resourceful, we persevere with limited opportunities, we navigate past gatekeepers, we are innovators, we have a driving passion to make things happen. South African young entrepreneurs are amazing!
What young entrepreneurs need is ... special attention; we need support, access to market share, funding, mentoring and encouragement.
What the government and corporates can do to support young entrepreneurs is ... provide an entrepreneurial ecosystem that fosters enterprise, innovation and economic growth. They need to be the facilitators of the climate that will achieve this and not continue with the formal and redundant rules that hinder decision-making and stagnate growth.
NHLANHLA NDLOVU (JOHANNESBURG): Hustlenomics
Ndlovu is a qualified bricklayer and his business provides skills and opportunities for young people living in Soweto. Ndlovu’s project, Hustlenomics, works with shack dwellers on their premises to convert their homes into proper, safe structures, improving safety and creating employment through an affordable financial model.
I am a social entrepreneur because ... I want to make a change and tackle the world’s most vexing social problems by coming up with impact-driven solutions.
What many people don't know about being a young entrepreneur is ... they approach opportunities, situations and problems in innovative and different ways, they are passionate about what they do, they think outside the box, they are not afraid of failing or taking risks, they hold the key to economic growth and significant job creation.
What young entrepreneurs need is ... mentorship, support and opportunities to scale-up their work.
What the government and corporates can do to support young entrepreneurs is ... work together to provide knowledge, skills, resources and networks and not only provide the ecosystem support through having conversations and hosting forums.
THATO MAFOKOANE (PRETORIA): Khof & Khuk Bakery
Township-based Thato’s goal is to empower differently-abled youth in his neighbourhood by providing opportunities they’ve never had before. Thato’s project, Khof & Khuk Bakery, teaches young people how to bake and make a living for themselves.
I am a social entrepreneur because .... my enterprise aims to tackle the issues in my community.
What many people don't know about being a young entrepreneur is ... you are tired of seeing the struggle. We want to drive change at large - we can't rely on the government to provide, rather we start working, and if the government comes, then that will be great; if it doesn't then at least we are doing something that we will look at in a decade, so it's a win-win situation.
What young entrepreneurs need is ... support and people (communities) who understand that we all start somewhere, to journey with us - because after all, businesses formed in local communities will benefit the people at large, enable more jobs creation and at least a pathway to success is seen. I know that "if I use people to build my dreams, then I should use my dreams to build other people’s dreams".
What the government and corporates can do to support young entrepreneurs is … to come form a productive link between us and them to help encounter what we do from our perspective; and to see where we are and where we want to go. In most cases a business would get attention when it is already blooming, and at that point there isn't much the government can do for us. However they should not give us things based on what they think, because from where we are, things are just different and money alone isn't the solution.
Also in the #YouthMonth2017 Series: The World Needs More Purpose-Driven Young People - Mark Zuckerberg
RANDY MAMPURU (JOHANNESBURG): Kidz Hub
Randy Mampuru is the founder of Kidz Hub, an NPO that pairs children living in Dobsonville, Soweto with university students in an effort to share skills. When asked what motivates her to run Kidz Hub, Randy says, "I want to give the children in my neighbourhood the chance to fulfill their potential. I hope to see them grow into well-rounded, successful adults."
I am a social entrepreneur because ... I want to see the work that I do, the purpose that I serve and the contributions that I make having a lasting effect on humanity.
What many people don't know about being a young entrepreneur is ... that we are selfish and naive, we take advantage of being young by taking risky decisions that don't always work, and we take them anyway because we can afford to fail and try again.
What young entrepreneurs need is ... MENTORSHIP!
What the government and corporates can do to support young entrepreneurs is ... to give them access to the market, basically give them business and share their network, not just give them money!