“Entrepreneurship isn’t the finish line – it’s a journey of continuous learning, unlearning and relearning. As an entrepreneur you must strive to be an expert in your respective field. You may not have all the answers, and that’s okay, but don’t settle for the mediocrity of not knowing.”
This is the expert advice from Anele Mkhuzo-Magape who founded Zinde Zinde (Pty) Ltd t/a African Entrepreneurship Initiative – a consulting and entrepreneurship education training company with a focus on youth in townships and peri-urban areas.
Mkhuzo-Magape is an entrant in the 2018 Entrepreneur of the Year® competition sponsored by Sanlam and BUSINESS/PARTNERS.
She started her career at the Gordon Institute of Business Science’s (GIBS) Enterprise Development Academy, designing programmes for long-term sustainability in entrepreneurship. After three years in the position, she discovered that there was a gap in the market: there were too few Enterprise Development Agencies creating programmes specifically targeted at young black entrepreneurs in townships and peri-urban areas. Some entrepreneurs had to travel far to access these programmes and access was further worsened by a language barrier in their execution. This meant that some entrepreneurs didn’t have the confidence to adequately express themselves and what their businesses do.
When she left her job to focus on her business full time, Mkhuzo-Magape had almost nine years of corporate experience in customer service management and project management, and an education background in Economics and Business Administration. This, she says was a solid foundation to build from and she felt very privileged for the opportunities that she had – she knows this is not every entrepreneur’s story.
“I knew I wanted to change that narrative through education and entrepreneurship. It is my responsibility as a young person to plough back into the community what I have learnt and to continue learning every day.”
New business development is always difficult. Mkhuzo-Magape says her greatest challenge was identifying corporates and government departments that were truly passionate about realising her vision. “We didn’t want to simply consult and deliver training as a tick box exercise; we wanted to create sustainable and thriving enterprises, and programmes that change lives and communities.”
Mkhuzo-Magape says the business model is built on accessibility, and that beneficiaries do not pay for their services. Funding comes from corporate and government institutions that they partner with. “Our greatest challenge is convincing potential investors of our passion and making them see the value it offers in terms of their long term strategy.”
But she says seeing entrepreneurs who have been through their programmes develop and reach for opportunities to realise their ideas is her greatest achievement. “There are so many talented young people with amazing ideas but they just need the right support and platforms to help elevate them– I get to do that every day, and that’s my success.”
Over the next five years, Mkhuzo-Magape envisions African Entrepreneurship Initiative to grow into a knowledge hub for young entrepreneurs across the continent, and says she has structured the business’ growth strategies to achieve this. “We want to bring innovation to entrepreneurial education through practical tools such as simulations and gamification. Our training must be relevant and accessible to youth and be presented in the vernacular languages that are appropriate to the youth we want to target.”