FAIRLADY Rising Star Award Recipient, founder and Managing Director of African Entrepreneurship Initiative (AEi), Anele Mkuzo-Magape shares what inspired her to start her consulting and entrepreneurship education training company.
Have you always been entrepreneurial from a young age, if not what sparked it?
I believe I have learned to have an entrepreneurial mind-set. Entrepreneurs are born AND made! I have, over the years been fascinated about what makes some businesses successful versus others; and it always comes back to the entrepreneurs themselves. It’s their passion, hard work, ability to identify opportunities, their ability to fail forward and their tenacity to stick it out. I have also learned that your first idea might not be the one that makes you succeed, but it’s important to learn from that.
Tell us about life after matric, where did you work and what has corporate taught you about being a business woman?
After matric I went to Rhodes University and studied for a BComm in Economics, which I completed at UNISA. During my final years at varsity I worked as a temp at a mining company; Idwala Industrial Holdings in Durban. Soon after I was made permanent and worked there for four years. I left Idwala to come to Johannesburg in 2012, to work as a Customer Service Manager at IIR (part of Informa). I spent over a year there before joining the Gordon Institute of Science (GIBS). At GIBS I joined the Enterprise Development Academy and that’s where I found my passion for entrepreneurship education. Corporate has taught me that you have to always work hard because you don’t know where opportunities come from and who is watching. Corporates succeed because of the systems and processes in place; and so I have incorporated that in my business. I don’t run my business like a small business, but like a big corporate.
What sparked the idea behind African entrepreneurship initiative and when did you open doors?
I have been very privileged to have some of the opportunities I’ve had in my life. From my education, the companies I’ve worked for and the access I have had to those opportunities. Unfortunately, the average young person in South Africa doesn’t have the same opportunities, and that is not right. I knew I wanted to ensure I change that narrative but utilising education and entrepreneurship. It is my responsibility as a young person to plough back what I’ve learnt and continue learning every day.
Tell us what your organisation entails? And what were some of the challenges you experienced?
Zinde Zinde (Pty) Ltd t/a African Entrepreneurship Initiative (AEi) is a consulting and entrepreneurship education training company with a focus on the youth within the African continent. Entrepreneurship has been recognised as the most important tool to eradicate poverty and inequality. But with the current statistics on the failure of start-up entrepreneurs in the continent AEi has created a unique solution that ensures inclusivity and allows the youth, potential and existing entrepreneurs to access financial literacy and entrepreneurship education. Our solution encompasses the ability to execute our training and education in different African languages by multilingual experts. This ensures that language is not a barrier to access to information and skills. Our solutions look at the holistic value chain of entrepreneurship development and education.
New business development is always difficult and identifying corporates and government that are passionate about our vision. We don’t just want to consult and deliver training as a tick box exercise; we want to create sustainable and thriving enterprises in the continent. Create programmes that change lives and communities. Our business model stems on the beneficiaries not paying for our services and the investment coming from the corporate and government institutions we partner with. It’s a challenge at times convincing potential investors of our passion and what value it will have on their long term strategy and create greater good for our continent.
Who and what do you credit the success of your business to?
I have had a lot of support from family and friends alike. Women have played a huge role in where I am today; they have supported and ensured I grab every opportunity presented to me.
Do you have a mentor and what role do they play in the running of your business?
I have mentors but not formally. There are friends, colleagues and business partners that play that role as and when required.
How big is your team and how is your management style?
I employ on a project to project basis. Our service providers (or business partners or I would like to call them) are empowered. Everyone I work with is not just providing a service, they are part of my business and I encourage them to have input and give feedback on how we can do better as a business.
Apart from winning the FairLady Rising Star award this year what other highlights have you experienced?
I was one of the Mail & Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans 2016; I’m part of the Standard Bank Women’s High Growth Programme; I’ve been a speaker for UKZN’s InQubate Entrepreneurship Week; and have been featured on Kaya FM, SAFM and Channel Africa Radio
What is the best business advice you have ever received?
Master your craft, and in the process don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is a lesson in itself.
What are your success tips for young people who want to own successful businesses?
Firstly, start…Once you’ve started be a sponge for information, be curious and do as much as you can to learn more. Also don’t marry your first idea, if you see that it isn’t viable move on to something else.
For more information on Anele’s business, visit: http://aeinitiative.co.za/
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