‘I had to move back to Soweto to understand my market’
Bontle Molefe has great plans for her township-based advertising company. As a media specialist, the 32 year-old single mother established a go-to business for businesses looking to extend their marketing and advertising efforts in the townships.
“Our plan is to infiltrate the township advertising space with the right kind of message, using the right platforms,” Molefe says. “We use a bull’s eye approach by differentiating the business needs from township to township.”
The move to back to Soweto
Thanks to her experience of more than 10 years in the advertising industry, Molefe soon realized her business success lay in immersing herself with her clients. In 2013 she decided to abandon life in Mogale City’s upmarket suburb and trek back to her parental home in Meadowlands, Soweto, in pursuit of better understanding her clientele. Molefe holds diploma in media studies from Boston College, and now she’s pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration with Regenesys Business School.
But first, she had to overcome a minor culture shock.
“Many of us move out of the township when we accumulate a little bit of money”
Townshipreneur Bontle Molefe
“Many of us move out of the township when we accumulate a little bit of money. Yet we continue to claim allegiance with, and to understand township life because we grew up there,” she says. “We have realized in our business that the township is not what we used to think it is.”
“We started by doing research for our business in the townships and soon realized that we can’t specialize in areas that we have little knowledge about,” Molefe says, adding that all her employees contracted are townships residents.
The Potter and The Clay Media Communications was the second media company that Melefe established. She says the Bible inspired name resonates deeply with her because it helped her through a tough time both personally and professionally. She established Potter after having to close the media company (Sebata Media) that she had co-founded and ran together with her ex-husband for 10 years when the couple decided to go their separate ways.
She says it was difficult having to start over again and this time on her own with her only work experience, apart from Sebata Media, a seven month stint that she worked as a call centre agent.
“There are specific things that are unique with each township”
Standing out from the crowd
The business works, first and foremost, with community radio stations, opening up advertising space for both big and small businesses looking for end-to-end advertising solution in the townships. In this regard, they work closely in partnership with over 120 community radio stations countrywide.
Molefe’s other specialities include advertising through wall branding, social media, murals, mobile media platforms, activations and exhibitions, and other various platforms geared for the township market.
Within six months the company employed 12 agents across the country and many others on ‘ad-hoc’ basis. Molefe says she hasn’t yet audited her company’s value, but she’s proud to mention their broad clientele including the City of Johannesburg, Nedbank, and the SABC among others.
“By doing business with us, our clients benefit because we get their messages to specific target markets using specific languages. Each campaign concept is well researched within the market targeted. We do not believe in blanket messaging,” says Molefe.
“There are specific things that are unique with each township,” she said. “These included the languages, signs, dress codes, mixed cultures and the general spirit of each individual township.”
Asked whether she has any regrets for leaving a plush lifestyle in the suburbs, Molefe said: “I’m loving the perception of what the township is and its social life. There is love and the township is very real, warm and has no pretense.”
Main picture: Sea Turtle via Flickr