Lucy Worsley on building her Empire

“The first day was scary. However, with that there was a sense of freedom: I was delivering to the world my expression of how I saw it. The office space was within the that of my best friends’ office: desk and laptop ready. Simple. I had always known what I wanted to do next.” 

Lucy Worsley is the founder of Empire – an experiential marketing agency with a double folded agenda. First, to take advantage of the burgeoning female economy whilst pursuing the advantage of woman empowerment. Second, to establish a brand that exists on the premise of a shared economy. It lives on the mantra: ‘Listen. Learn. Create. Inspire.’

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The Journey is Long: Keep Pushing

In the last two quarters, several Nigerian e-commerce startups have closed shop… These were all companies with founders, visions, dreams, and a team—and now, they don’t exist. What always struck me is the way [that they close down]: there is never a farewell message on their website, or Twitter or Instagram; even our local tech blogs ignore their demise. It’s almost as if death comes at night and all you’re left with is a homepage link that doesn’t open. Continue Reading →

Stay Motivated for the Long Run

My first paid job was in Germany as a night watchman guarding a paralysed man. The job required me to be awake and watchful most of the time, to correct slumps, and ensure that my ward didn’t have any life-threatening complications at any time. I used to spend the entire night actively writing code to keep awake. —Mark Essien, Nigeria

Mark Essien is a software and mobile development expert. Motivated to be a part of the technological space after watching his father build various mechanical devices, Mark decided to explore the field of Computer Science and Engineering, and founded His vibrant startup (founded in 2012) is the largest hotel booking portal in Nigeria, and hit 6000 Hotels sign up in 2014.

Edited by Sharon Green, Editor-in-Chief

Spot the Opportunity

“My co-founder (and husband) Alen Ribic and I came up with the concept for SweepSouth out of a personal need that indicated opportunity. While on holiday in Cape Town one December, we struggled to find help with domestic cleaning. It took us weeks to search the classifieds, ask friends for referrals, and go back and forth via email and phone with cleaners and agencies. Moreover, the cleaners we did speak to were underpaid and unmotivated.

Uber had recently launched in South Africa, and we loved the idea of an ‘Uber for home cleaning’, which also used the technology to provide work opportunities for cleaners. We were excited about the idea of modernising the industry and empowering cleaners to earn fair rates and decide on their own schedules.”

Aisha Pandor of SweepSouth

Don’t Fret the Small Beginnings

Megan Grassell is the 18 year old who made headlines last year for giving up a promising skiing career and postponing university to launch the youth bra company Yellowberry.

After the initial success of the company, she faced capacity challenges. “We were in our living room sitting with hundreds of back orders and not enough products; just getting phone calls, and it was so surreal, it was so crazy!”

“I was so worried… I said, ‘Oh my god, will this continue? Or can we keep it going?’

Over the upcoming months, Grassell’s mom joined as her partner. They found office space and hired several of Grassell’s high school friends to fill the back orders. She created a system of operation to allow the company to grow, and be able to handle the growing interest. She now works with an agency to outsource manufacturing and merchandising. The moral of the story? Capacity-building is what will help you keep the business, when it comes.

Edited by Sharon Green, Editor-in-Chief

Start Somewhere, Then Build!

“Before we started, we were just a bunch of guys in college. When we would walk into a company like MTN to present our ideas, they seemed to look at us and think: ‘You really think you can do this?’

We quickly learned that you have to do something extraordinary in first, before people notice you, and take you seriously. Start somewhere, then build!”

I Am Youngpreneur

Gerard Yitamkey, Co-Founder and CEO of Ahonya: a Ghanaian startup providing an e-commerce platform for electronics and computers.


What’s YOUR Opinion?

“The greatest challenge in being an entrepreneur is always having to explain yourself. People always say to me, ‘Wait, what is it that you do again?’”

What matters is not the opinions that others have about what you do, but your own opinions. If you see value in your dream, then continue to chase it! You have to be honest with yourself, as the investor, with regards to the true return value of the enterprise. Dream big, as long as it is still worth it.

Raelene Rorke, the former Miss Teen South Africa, is the co-founder of SpringAge. SpringAge is a consultancy firm that enables youth-led organizations to resolve challenges in innovative ways.

Edited by Sharon Green, Editor-in-Chief

Join the Tribe

Kate Nero of Tribe Coffee narrates her journey to owning a third of one of Africa’s most successful coffee brands. After working for a competitor, she and her partners thought to themselves: “Why can’t we do that?” The rest, as the saying goes, is history. Continue Reading →

The Difference Between a Brand and a Business

Blackstone Bookshop is a family affair and we have all played a role in bringing this idea to a reality. I saw a gap in the market and made a suggestion to my family about the concept. After toying around it for a little while, our idea became a reality in 2010, and upon my return home in December of that year, I was involved in the daily operations and trying to re-integrate myself into the business landscape in Zimbabwe. Continue Reading →

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Getting Our Hands Dirty with Urban Farming

“We didn’t plan on being mushroom farmers. During the last semester of our university careers, Nikhil lined up a corporate consulting job and I nabbed one in investment banking.” —Alejandro Velez Continue Reading →

Anything But Average

Yacoob Carr is the founder of Munaaz Catering Equipment. Growing up in an average family, he constantly took steps that would make him everything but average. The dreamer turned successful young entrepreneur worked through the challenges of his entrepreneurial journey, situating himself as one of the most influential players in Africa’s catering industry.

Quiq-e with Laurian: Siba the Entrepreneur Part II

Quiq-e is a bite-sized entertainment show hosted by Laurian Nortje. In this episode, Siba Mtongana talks about the importance for women and other young people to own their business ventures. She also gives health tips for entrepreneurs needing to keep up a high level of energy throughout the day. Siba is a celebrity chef known best for hosting the Food Network show Siba’s Table.

Quiq-e with Laurian: Siba the Entrepreneur

Quiq-e is a bite-sized entertainment show presented by Laurian Nortje. In this episode, celebrity chef Siba Mtongana reveals how she stays at the competitive edge of her industry by keeping abreast of local and international trends. Mtongana is best known for hosting the Food Network show Siba’s Table.

Confessions: Never Too Late to Start Again

I am a technology fanatic. This should always be clear. I am Angolan, young, and fascinated by the meeting of imagination and creation that technology always facilitates. My relationship with technology proves to me, every day, that I (as an individual) and we (as a population) are creators first and creatives at best. Continue Reading →

For the Love of Travel

Ever found a place during your travels you loved so much that you wish you could find a way to stay there forever?  Forget going home, and continue with your job in a professional capacity. I believe that this is how my journey began: I found that place in Pemba, Mozambique. I had no idea that I would set up a business outside of my own country, but when I got a call one day from the owner of the lodge that I once called a second home, I realised that I had to buy it. I had to save the guest house from closing down, take a risk, and test my cards in the field of enterprise. A million thoughts crossed my mind, forcing me to sit on the offer for two months without doing anything. It wasn’t a simple decision between yes and no; rather, it was a matter of what could I see myself doing for the next years of my life? Being young and single meant that I had no other obligations. I had saved some money over time. But could I pour all my savings into one business venture that was, at that time, already failing?

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Entrepreneurship For Survival

In Africa, Kampala is known as the capital of chaos. But out of chaos, something surprising always emerges: solutions. With a youthful population (over half under 15 years of age) and an even younger technology and energy scene – the raw energy of excitement in the Ugandan capital is tangible. Young and hungry technologists are pushing the boundaries of innovation daily, creating sustainable solutions to everyday challenges from their bedrooms. This naiveté to the tech awakening has brought a social solution to the pressure of corruption.

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On the Social Side

The Social Vibe (TSV) – as a play on words – taps into our characters as individuals and strategy as entrepreneurs. Personally, we love people. Professionally, we have created a way to bring out the humanity in the investment game by creating what we see potentially to be the mind-map of entrepreneurship in South Africa for investors.

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Success From One Cent!

 We never can tell just how low an auction will end. But more recently we’ve had a return flight to Bali go for $11.03 and a return flight to New York for just $4.06.

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Quiq-e with Laurian: Lazuli designer—future doctor by day, successful fashion entrepreneur by night

Quiq-e is a bite-sized entertainment show presented by Laurian Nortje. In this episode we meet up with Layla Cassim of Lazuli to talk about design, passion, brand growth, and juggling med-school with the challenges of entrepreneurship.

Empowering the Black Female Voice

I am a young black woman who self-identifies as a black feminist. I am inspired by the ideals of black consciousness, feminism, and pan-Africanism. Those ideals are the foundation for what I do on a daily basis as a young media entrepreneur who wants to tell the stories of Africans in general and African women in particular. The work that I do is about consciousness-raising, and ensuring that as young black people, we have the freedom and ability to realise our full potential in a world that affirms us.

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Quiq-e with Laurian: Trevor Stuurman—Elle Magazine Style Reporter

Quiq-e is a bite-sized entertainment show presented by Laurian Nortje. In this episode we meet up with South Africa’s fashion and photography industry heavyweight Trevor Stuurman. We talk entrepreneurship, social media and design, all rolled up in a quiq-e.

Quiq-e with Laduma Ngxokolo of Maxhosa: Africa’s Trendiest Designer

Quiq-e is bite-sized entertainment show presented by Laurian Nortje. In this episode we meet up with internationally acclaimed Laduma Ngxokolo to talk business, design, magazine covers and creativity—all knitted together in a quiq-e.

A Modern Day Classic: The Untold Story of the Spinach King

Lufefe Nomjana is one of South Africa’s most celebrated young entrepreneurs. After creating spinach bread, he quickly found international fame as the “spinach king.” But the journey of the entrepreneur wasn’t always easy. After being exposed to the “wrong side” of life he found his way back to his “purpose” and started the company, all to leave a legacy for his family.

It is Not “African Fashion,” It is Design!

I didn’t have many opportunities at home. At the time where I should have been preparing to attend a tertiary education institution in Burkina Faso I was discouraged by the socio-economic environment that plagued my immediate society.  There were public issues at the time. With strikes mushrooming at the corner of every university campus in the country, I knew I had to get out – at least for myself. Continue Reading →

Twelve and only getting started.

I am just another twelve year old girl with friends, homework and hobbies. The only thing different about me is that I followed my dream (with the help of my parents of course!) They wanted me to know they believed in me, and that I too should believe in myself. Continue Reading →

Waste Not, Want Not: The Shoe that Changed it All!

“You are your most valuable asset and resource, and can be exploited to achieve great things.” —Roberto Gallotta, Co-Founder of Sols Sandals

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Next stop, success!

In the year of my matriculation from high school there was a sudden boom in interest for premium virgin hair. This kind of hair was not easily accessible. The market was not saturated either. So, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity. I recall sitting at a hair salon, one day, and over hearing my hair-dresser in converse about their launch. They were looking for models to showcase the stock of  the premium virgin hair by a supplier. The audacity in me saw an opportunity. Getting up from my chair, I approached the hair-dresser and told him that I could arrange the girls for free (given that they would receive premium hair to the value of R3000). It was my buy-in; my “research costs” to acquaint myself with the supplier. We met at the launch, cut out the middle man, and the rest is history. Continue Reading →

The Lucrative Business of Black Market Products

I first tasted the entrepreneurial career when I was 8 years old. I was in primary school, selling football cards to my classmates. I would say to them: ‘why buy a pack and only end up with one that you need, when you can buy the three that you need from me, for the same amount?” I had mastered my first lesson: sales. To be an entrepreneur is to be a salesmen. The rest is detail.

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Is There Value in Entering a Congested Market?

Bokang Lehabe, the founder of Bookha Creations considers the challenges of entering a congested market, especially as a young entrepreneur with no experience and no capital. Is there always a way? Let us know what you think.

When Curious Conservatives Come Out to Play

Valerie Armani founder of Kahvarah seeks to find the middle ground between curiosity and being conservative within her clothing brand. She finds that experimenting with her ideas helps her learn quickly, whilst testing them out in the market shows her whether or not they are practical. Is it the practical who succeed, or the experimental? We don’t know. You tell us!