December Issue 2014

Page 89

just be a consumer base for global companies and not African businesses. We can incubate and mentor entrepreneurs all we like but if they don’t have the funds to sell and market their products they are just going to add to the failure statistics, which is unfortunate not only for them but Africa as a whole.

Is there a network that exclusively supports black-women owned start-up companies? There’s a few out there but I don’t encourage anyone to wait for such funds. My business partner and I just dived into all this, we just wanted to disrupt and we’re well on our way. I don’t encourage anyone to wait for support; forge ahead don’t wait. The support and networks will find you along the way. Funds don’t like risk so the more successful you become the more everyone wants to fund you. If you have R1, start a R1 business, focus on making it the most well run R1 business out there that operates like it’s a R10 business, stay loyal to the process and eventually you will have a R100 business – what I’m saying is start what you can start with whatever skills or any other advantage you have and make it work. It sounds like I’m selling dreams but that’s how we did and many others. Don’t wait for funding it will only kill your spirit; start and then go searching for funds and if you don’t get funded go find out why and fix and go back to find funds. There’s a couple who run a R30 million engineering business but it took them 10 years of failure after failure to get there and now every venture capitalist and funder alike wants a piece and they are refusing and good for them, where were those funds when they had to sell their house? Don’t wait for a funder, just naively forge ahead.

What have been the most rewarding moments in your work?

Reward has been hiring unemployed graduates, then having to retrench them and then re-hiring them back. Entrepreneurship is tough but I’ve learnt that I’m tough, I might not look it but I’m tough and I would never have known this, I love knowing I’m tough.

What entrepreneurship myth can you dispel? You need to have funding in place. Not true. Start with R1 if that’s all you have. Start anything that needs R1 to start. That you need to have this long list of connections to make things happen. Again not true. You just need to go out there and find people who believe in you, the rest finds you. That to succeed in our era you must invent this great new high-tech business and be this hightech genius. Not true. Great inventions are not what’s driving our world, it’s reshaping but not driving. Not everyone is a Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerbergs but there are endless lists of Others. Most of us are Others. Go make your billions doing Other things which are not necessarily high-tech. The guy who supplies Bidvest with their cleaning materials is happy, very happy actually. Entrepreneurs are born. Doctors are not born. Engineers are not born. Lawyers are not born and so are entrepreneurs, you learn like everything else in life. Successful people don’t sleep. This is not true. Sleep when your body needs sleep and wake up when it’s refreshed, you can’t build anything if you’re a zombie. I don’t sleep much but that’s how I’ve always been not because I’m following this great big formula of successful people who wake up at 4am or something.[]