Yoliswa Cele on Changing the South African Youth Narrative
Posted on June 27, 2016
“Young South Africans are only relevant when burning things down. I’d attend economic forums to find in room full of international players, one Nigerian; one Kenyan and no South African. How could this be when South Africa is a giant on the continent,” questions Yoliswa Cele, co-founder of Ndosi Strategies.
In addressing the need to spearhead the country’s narrative concerning its youth in the international community, Cele and her partner, Vuma Shongwe, created the annual event: Meeting of the Minds: South Africa’s Enterprising Next Generation. The event invites and connects young South African entrepreneurs and leaders to share stories, business skills and tools to develop the entrepreneurial movement in effort to close the international business gap. “The vision is that this platform will expand opportunities and visibility for South Aftica’s startup movement – being the first step in international investor outreach and partnership cultivation.”
The event brought together a pool of South African entrepreneurs based in South Africa or the United States, this past Saturday. Attendees included Thebe Ikalafeng (keynote speaker) who is the founder of award-winning advisory firm Brand Leadership Group; South African based entrepreneur Siya Beyile of The Threaded Man fashion and lifestyle portal; Roxsanne Dyssell of technology startup Nalla International LLC; and Kenny Morifi-Winslow blogger of the 3rd Citizen. The event included South African diaspora to include an on-the-ground perspective. “Since I grew up here, I’ve found that there is not enough representation of South Africans of colour. The social constructs are replicated. There is no sense of community.” As a mean to address this, the conference also insured exposure to opportunities that would enable the entrepreneurs to cultivate their own partnerships.
Cele moved to New York at an early age. In 1988, her grandmother migrated to the United States because of a lack of opportunities. “She was ambitious! She’d quickly set up shop to sell: “I love Harlem” t-shirts. By 1992, she’d had enough to bring both my mother and I over to stay with her.” With an ancestry embedded deep in entrepreneurship, it wasn’t long until Cele’s angst to branch out and have equity got the better of her. Having previously worked in disruptive banking as well as a South African migrant community organization, Imbizo, her experience had positioned her to set up Ndosi Strategies – a name derived from her ancestral praise song. “The name reminds me to operate at my best potentials – at all times – as the company doesn’t just represent me, but my family as well.”
Looking back on the achievements and effectiveness of the past weekend, she cites: ” it’s really exciting to see an idea come to pass. It’s so surreal.”