By: Nozipho Mpanza
Once upon a time there lived a young man named Herman. Herman grew up in the township of Soweto with his family. Herman had a beautiful mother and she had long straight hair. As he grew, Herman began to realise that many women weren’t as fortunate as his mother: some had big bushy hair that was hard to straighten and suffered the inefficiency of ‘big black hair’. That’s when Herman decided to develop a product range that would afford all black women with silky soft hair and name it “Black like me”. Although Herman Mashaba was the initiator of the multimillion rand empire “Black like me”, his story doesn’t follow this whimsical series but the common factor between a story of this nature and that of the original story of Mr Herman Mashaba: the power of entrepreneurship.
An entrepreneur is an individual that initiates an idea with the intention of generating a profit, changing society or simply keeping busy. The world of entrepreneurship has been taken over by young people across the globe and this phenomenon has given light to the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google, all of which were inspired by young brilliant minds with the urge to transform society. Some may say that entrepreneurship is a flair that one is born with, while others simply view the quality as a skill that can be earned through hard work. Regardless of its acquisition, entrepreneurship continues to carry society from strength to strength and innovation through entrepreneurship has catapulted some of the most successful careers that we are familiar with today.
Africa is known to many as the land of potential, many young South Africans have taken a stand in support of the growth and development of Africa’s future. What better occasion to celebrate these young pioneers of economic, social and political transformation than in June. This is a period in South African history that boasts the power of youth, a reminder of the young hopeful nation that protested on 16 June 1976 for transformation in education. Today, the tale of the uprising students can be viewed from a business perspective: there was an inefficacy in society, the youth identified this and took action to correct it- the spirit of an entrepreneur!
Among Africa’s rising stars in business is Lebo Malepa who is the founder of the successful Soweto Bike Tours. The idea was simple to him: Tourists come to Soweto to see Soweto – all of it. They wish to interact with the people but safety is an issue of importance. In light of this information, Malepa developed a business plan that would ensure the full Soweto experience, guaranteed safety and a great workout. The simple brainchild has since become a great success among tourists in South Africa and has generated tremendous Revenue for Lebo’s Soweto Backpackers.
The secret behind a great entrepreneur is great courage. One has to identify inefficiencies in one’s daily life and GET rid of all fear. All entrepreneurs share the hunger for transformation and the realisations that it is not the bravest and the most intelligent that are to succeed in this life, but those that are most adaptable to change.
Some may stumble upon their brilliant idea in a conversation, others in a dream while others may never have the opportunity to create anything that will blow the minds of society. The greatest lesson about entrepreneurship is that it is not a special calling designed for the chosen few, but a hope and ambition that we all can strive towards.
The students we commemorate, on June 16, carried the spirit of entrepreneurship: people with a thirst for transformation, so too does the student tutoring maths during his weekend or the one working long hours during the week in the library.
Whether you plan on conquering the moon or changing your neighbourhood, take this month and beyond, to begin to allow your dreams to exceed their limits and remember that if IT doesn’t make you want to leap in excitement because of all the possibilities … you should Dream bigger!