Change Agent Gugu Nonjinge Means Business
Posted on February 7, 2018
Staff Writer: Dimpho Lekgeu
Powerful agent of change, Gugu Nonjinge, has a deep passion for uplifting the lives of African women. It’s no wonder her company – LeBrunch SA – facilitates a social platform that engages young women from diverse backgrounds to connect and network.
She talks to Youngpreneur Media about making a profit while making an impact and what it takes to be an all-round slayer.
YPM: Tell us about the concept behind Lebrunch SA – why do South African women need spaces like it?
Built on the ethos of women empowerment, Le Brunch exists to create a space where women are reminded that their womanhood can serve as a tool to invalidate and render irrelevant the systems that seek to oppress them. The sense of self confidence and self-esteem that women derived from attending a LeBrunchSA event is always incredible to see because we are living in societies that are ageist, sexist, patriarchal and constantly marginalise women.
YPM: You’re not only an entrepreneur but you’re also an education advocate for women on the continent. How has that influenced your journey in entrepreneurship and the kind of business you’ve decided to get into?
Before anything else, I am an advocate and activist for girls, women and education. Everything that I do stems from what I stand for and my social justice work.
With my entrepreneurship journey, I always make sure that it is geared towards translating existing normative frameworks, platforms and commitments into real tangible change, create spaces and opportunities to enable women and young people to fulfil their true potential on the continent.
In my methodology I consciously involve women and young people to ensure a holistic, integrated and comprehensive approach to issues resulting in long-lasting and sustainable change.
YPM: Many people don’t believe in making a social impact and making a profit at the same time. Have you also found this to be a challenge?
Making a profit has never been a base factor for me to start a business. However, it is a bit challenging at times because even though you are social entrepreneur, you still have costs to cover and sometimes salaries to pay. There’s no great way of doing or no formula to it, as a social entrepreneur I believe one just needs to find a middle ground between making profit and delivering quality social impact.
YPM: How have you managed to strike the balance between your 9-5 job and being an entrepreneur?
The one thing that I’ve learnt about being a social entrepreneur or an advocate for social change is that, you need to be resilient! I am fortunate enough to work in an organisation that enables me to bring a little bit of my personal work into it because social entrepreneurship requires you to be present.
YPM: You’re in business with your best friend, Mlibo Bashe. What has your experience been with doing business with someone you have a personal relationship with?
Starting LeBrunch with my close friend was probably the best decision ever. I am saying this because we both have an understanding of our brand, what it stands for and what it set out to do and therefore our relationship has enabled us to grow together. The not so nice this about it though is that in preparation for an event we work 24/7! During lunch/breakfast dates, flights, and airports…it really doesn’t stop.
YPM: You managed to seal a partnership with Renault when you launched Lebrunch SA. What are your other big successes so far since you started your business?
Our biggest successes go beyond what can be seen on media. We thrive on our person to person interactions and because LeBrunch SA is built to support education programmes such as; Reason2Read and Dream Girls Mentoring Program, our highlight has been seeing these two programs flourish in the work that they are set out to do. LeBrunch has made various kinds of contributions (monitory, digital assistance and stakeholder partnerships).
In 2018, Gugu will not only be rebuilding mud schools in rural Eastern Cape through the Gugu Nonjinge Foundation but she’s also got plans to grow LeBrunch SA into other parts of the country.