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Business Culture Featured Reviews

Youth-led South African NGO, Young Aspiring Thinkers, Gets Selected To Pitch In Paris, France

South African business leader and serial entrepreneur says that to truly transform South Africa, education is a tool through which we can drive much-needed change. The future of South Africa bright but there is a lot of work that needs to be done for us as a nation to reach prosperity. Many young South Africans are not sitting down drowning in complacency; they are moving and shaking leaving no room for mediocrity and the predominant status quo. They understand that to succeed; you need to zone in on the problems that exist in your surroundings and find solid solutions so we can become product of our environments that are efficient, effective and purpose-driven.

One youth-led non-profit organisation, Young Aspiring Thinkers, is a great example of an entity that consists of young people that see a better future for South Africa and the world. With education being one of the core sectors that they aim to deliver value and change in, they are are actively building our nation one student, school and mentor at the time. Founded by three entrepreneurs and professionals; Monewa Matlwa, Thulani Masebenza and Masego Modiba, Young Aspiring Thinkers is an innovative concept which promised to deliver immense value by linking and assigning young professionals with high school learners for facilitate mentorship programs. Their focus is to reduce youth unemployment, improve learner career prospects and optimise how we teach young people in the public schooling system — particularly in the township.

We got the privilege to speak to exciting entrepreneur and co-founder of Young Aspiring Thinkers,  Thulani Masebenza, to find out more about their NPO, their visions for the future and exciting developments in their entrepreneurial and professional careers.

image of Young Aspiring Thinkers co-founders
Image credit: Young Aspriring Thinkers

Please introduce yourself and your startup?
Young Aspiring Thinkers was a Non-Profit Organization which was created by Thulani Masebenza, Monewa Matlwa and Masego Modiba which aims to improve youth education, reduce youth unemployment and improve the career prospects of young learners in public schools particularly public schools located in South African townships. All our career journeys have been interesting and uncertain, and we felt that even in our relatively privileged position as young black South Africans we are directed towards certain careers mainly out of necessity instead of careers which are linked towards our passion.

When conceptualising Young Aspiring Thinkers, what was the ‘why’  that drove you from an idea that lived in your head to a living entity?
As we started to explore the problem we began to realise this wasn’t only a problem which we faced, but a problem which other black South African youth face. When we’re young we are expected to enter careers such as Law, Medicine, Accounting and Engineering. This creates anxiety amongst youth that any career outside of those four is not one which should be pursued. Our original idea for Young Aspiring Thinkers was using a “speed – dating” solution but the career version where we invite young professionals excelling in their respective professions, to serve as mentors for the students on the day. The mentors speak to about two students at a time, for roughly +/- 5min where they give the students an insight into what they do, what their job looks like on the day to day, what degree they studied and other pieces of advice which could help them. This is beneficial as the students get exposed to multiple careers in one day. Usually we have a mix of professionals from entrepreneurs to consultants to doctors to football coaches to marketeers. All giving young South African students a view into their career and food for thought, for their futures.

What are some of the challenges that you face on a day-to-day basis and how do you view challenges as an entrepreneur?
As our organisation has grown and as we have run more sessions at schools we have realised that the scale of the problem is bigger than we initially thought. As much as we think career skills development and career guidance are important, we are trying to tackle the larger problem of education and youth unemployment in South Africa. We are doing this through building structured programmes which we implement at schools, our programmes aim to increase the future career prospects of learners, filter our learners into bursary and scholarships programmes, help them develop youth led businesses or help them find employment. These programmes will all be different in nature depending on what we want the outcome of the programme to be, the first programme which we have implemented is the Illuminate Programme which we are running at Olievenhoutbosch Secondary School. We are also in discussions with a major international corporation which we can’t reveal yet and are planning to launch a programme with them at a high school later in the year. We are also in discussions with a German Business School which is interested in creating online content for the learners in our Illuminate Programme.

image of Young Aspiring Thinkers co-founders
Image credit: Young Aspriring Thinkers

You have been invited to pitch at the prestigious ChangeNOW Summit in Paris, France. Congratulations, that is a great milestone and achievement. How can South Africa rally behind you in support?
This vision of moving from once-off career development sessions to programmes for the youth has led us on the path that we are now, which is having the opportunity to pitch our social enterprise at the ChangeNow Summit in Paris. ChangeNow is one of the largest platforms in the world for social impact startups, ChangeNOW is all about concrete actions and innovations: climate change, end of plastic pollution, new forms of agriculture, new models of education, solutions to the refugee crisis, clean energy, sustainable cities and other solutions to our most urgent global issues. Young Aspiring Thinkers has been selected to pitch in the education pitching session. This will allow us to pitch our vision and raise funding for the projects which we aim to implement throughout the year as well as gain strategic partnerships which will also us to further our impact. South Africans can rally behind us for support by joining our crowdfunding campaign, as a company we’ve been able to raise R15 000 for this trip to Paris, and we need your assistance to gather an addition R30 000. We’ve come up with a campaign that will help us reach our target and pitch our vision at the summit. We need 300 people to pledge and donate R100 each and would appreciate your assistance in reaching that target. This financial assistance will allow us to buy tickets, book accommodation and secure Visa’s for the trip. We are also always recruiting young mentors who can join our sessions and programmes to help with facilitation, giving career advice to the learners or talking about their career journey to help inspire the learners.

In conclusion, what is your vision for Africa?
Our vision for Africa is to become the most transformational youth led organisation on the continent. We hope to impact the lives of 50 000 learners by 2030, this means in the next 10 years we hope to impact roughly 125 South African public schools and either run sessions or implement a programme at these schools. We believe impacting lives to that scale would have such a positive impact on our economy as we believe the foundation of a successful economy is built on education, especially as we grow towards a knowledge based economy.

image of Young Aspiring Thinkers co-founders
Image credit: Young Aspriring Thinkers

Where can people contact you online or social media?
You can visit our website, Instagram and LinkedIn.

 

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Business Featured Music Industry Insights Reviews

The New Frontier: An African Startup Focused Show Crafted To Highlight Real Entrepreneurship Stories

In September, two Johannesburg based entrepreneurs; Lungile Mayindi and Nkululeko Nkosi embarked on a journey of creating and crafting content focused on the startup journey in Africa. Now this content is not structured to give people wishy-washy and fantastical ideas of entrepreneurship; its focus is impart real knowledge, provide interesting insights and deliver value in the form of truth.

Lungile Mayindi is a young entrepreneur who hails from the East Rand region of Johannesburg, who is now based in the North of Johannesburg and has his own production company called Iron Heart Films. Nkululeko Nkosi is a Mpumalanga-born and Johannesburg based entrepreneur who co-founded WeDigitize Agency — a digital and solutions-focused agency. The two started the Youtube series to provide meaningful content about the startup journey, content that will be real and speak to the difficulties of the entrepreneurial journey and how one should manoeuvre the business world as a young African startup founder.

Topics such as avoiding burning and staying consistency, the struggles of entrepreneurship, how to network and book recommendations for entrepreneurs. The channel is structured to be an edu-tainment

Watch the releases episodes below.

More videos are going to be shared and the two entrepreneurs look forward to connecting more with other entrepreneurs in South Africa and Africa. It is their contribution to the African startup scene and they hope to deliver tangible value to their viewers and target audience.

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Business Culture Featured Music

Introducing Oh OneOne Vinyl: Joburg-based lifestyle brand pushing and promoting vinyl culture

Let’s face it, music consumption has changed drastically. Globally, listener habits have shifted to accommodate tech-driven solutions where music discovery is handled by algorithms and not by dated traditional platforms, like radio or TV. Streaming platforms are king, physical sales of music are seeing a sharp decline and albums are getting shorter and shorter in response to changing listener habits. Music largely exists in the digital form and people can access vast amounts of music on their smartphones while only having to pay a monthly fee of about 60 South African rands.

As music goes digital, something odd and peculiar is also happening – vinyl record sales are also increasing month on month. A fascinating phenomenon, which comes as shock as the music industry as it now largely has its eyes set on introducing disruptive tech to create better experiences for people. This vinyl boom is largely driven by millennials who faintly remember a time where one music consumption was only possible through analogue technology. Millennials yearn for difference, something they can hold and physically interact with and showcase to other people as a status symbol. Sure, digital tech as an idea and innovation is revolutionary, but the one thing it lacks is the tangible aspect of music. Music is heard, but the music experience is not limited to one sense, as there’s a visual, lifestyle and physical aspect to it.

Music in the physical form, especially in the vinyl, carries a lifestyle and culture aspect to it. Sub-cultures and underground communities have formed which have vinyl at the core. In South Africa, vinyl culture is deeply entrenched in the music culture. Though the numbers of people who collect vinyl may be small, but they are still enough to allow entrepreneurs to spot opportunities to cater to this demographic. Bigger music retailers like Musica, have also seen this and have started pushing vinyl records but they lack one thing – understanding how the vinyl culture moves and functions. Something which the smaller retailers understand, as in many cases the culture functions off a ‘by us, for us’ model, which is very people-focused.

New Joburg-based retailer, Oh OneOne Vinyl, plans to genuinely bring innovation and great records for vinyl collectors in South Africa. Functioning as a boutique, semi-online retailer that also doubles as a lifestyle brand, the record store aims to cater to the underground and other alternative sub-cultures that are not catered for by mainstream platforms and businesses. The music startup has already built a solid customer base through networking and is growing steadily.

To find out more about this new, exciting business, you can visit them Facebook and Twitter. To make a purchase, mail them here: oh11records@gmail.com.

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Business Culture Interviews

Kea Mooka: On the importance of collaboration, the beginnings of Artizens of Joburg & plans for the future

Towards the end of September, we had the privilege and opportunity to speak to Kea Mooka, who is the co-founder of Artizens of Joburg. Artizens of Joburg is a creative movement and business that is invested in youth and creativity.

Listen to the interview here: