Monthly Archives: January 2016

Fashion Torch Africa’s Fashion Entrepreneur MeetUp

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All photos by https://www.facebook.com/Ngash-Sage-Photography

It is always a great feeling when you finally meet friends you have been chatting to online face to face. On my visit to Kenya in December 2015 I finally met the Fashion Torch Africa team. A team I had been conversing with since Fashion Torch was merely an idea. What was meant to be a few friends hanging out turned out to be a small talk on fashion with me as one of the speakers.

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Being the person who I am; a person who has a touch time standing in front of people, talking and being the centre of attention I decided to hold a discussion instead. We discussed challenges that many fashion entrepreneurs faces; from legislation to lack of funding among other things and solutions were shared among the group and I am glad that the Fashion Entrepreneur Meet Ups are going to continue every month tackling issues that we face as photographers, models, presenters, fashion designers and so on.

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I am really inspired by the number of young people in Africa who are not making excuses about being unemployed but instead they are taking initiative and starting businesses in things that interest them. For instance I met Sally and Lola who are starting a publishing business and they will have a fashion magazine covering African fashion. I also had a chat with Tyrus who started an events company which happens to be doing very well regardless of being less than a year old.

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Effective communication and complying with policies or legislation were key issues that were discussed. Most of the time creatives often overlook legislation they run unregistered businesses. I know how boring admin can be but it must be done. A right team is very important in order for the business to succeed. Someone whose name I cannot quite recall said you must take care of your team or employees so they can treat your customers right.

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Speaking of customers, fashion designers always have problems with customers who demand lower prices for high quality products because they say they can always buy some cheap Chinese replica. As customers we need to support our local designers and we must try understand that material, labour and the time it took to bring the product into its present condition form part of the price.

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I had so much fun interacting with my brothers and sisters in Nairobi and big up to Wilkings and the entire fashion team for having me around and showing me a great time. I cannot wait to see the empire grow #AfricaReign.

 

 

 

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Media , you screwed us over P2

The Culture Of Entrepreneurship

So while researching on African Cultures for my blog series I decided to add a segment on business in Africa. Businessman and creative Jermaine Charles tells us how Entrepreneurship began in his family. As Africans we have always been entrepreneurs.

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The Culture of Entreprenuership – A Perspective

Written By Jermaine Charles  @charlesjaymr on twitter

Charity Begins at Home.

Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu.

These two sayings have been heard by everyone at least once in their lifetimes.

These two philosophies are as meaningful as they are powerful.

These words give us more than just food for thought but inspire many to action.

Given that most of us grew up hearing them, why have these thoughts not inspired a culture of entrepreneurship?

Could the mindset around creating and starting a business be formulated using these sayings?

This got me thinking about my family history.

I grew up in Zimbabwe and from a very early age was exposed to entrepreneurship.

My maternal grandfather, Solomon Tshuma, ran and operated his own businesses, namely a butchery and a grocery store.

Although he and my grandmother Elizabeth Moyo were qualified teachers, as the Rhodesian regime did not allow for them to be trained in a variety of careers, they made the transition from workers to business owners.

My mother Tembi, told me that her fathers’ first business idea was selling dried fish from Malawi. (My great grandparents actually came from there before they moved to what was then called Rhodesia).

The story has it that he saved some money, hired a truck and drove a few 1000 kilometres to Malawi and bought tons of dried fish.

He brought these back and sold them out of the back of the truck in his community with my grandmother.

He became a successful business person because of the community, his networks and the support of his family. He did not make it alone. He was a true reflection of the saying ‘Umuntungumuntungabantu.’

Furthermore, from that initial investment and risk they went on to build a business that put their six children through the best schools they could.

It also enabled my grandfather to satisfy his passion for American cars. I’ve seen old pictures of some of his cars, ranging from Cadillacs to Fords, with a lot of envy in my heart.

How does this relate to Charity Begins at Home?

My aunts and uncles learned that with calculate risk there is a reward.

No one will give you permission to create your own wealth or life.

Even in apartheid they saw that they could still do more than what the imposed boundaries seemed to dictate.

All of his children worked for the business and learned business principles early on.

When he went into exile due to his involvement in the liberation struggle, his eldest son took over the business.

Had it been a more progressive time his eldest daughter, who was both street and business smart would have done so.

The rest of his siblings went on to start their own businesses too.

My uncle Steven became a qualified mechanic and now runs his own car dealership and service garage.

My mother worked in banking and was the first person I ever hear utter the words ‘business plan’.

Later in life she ventured into service businesses and tourism in a country she was not born in.

My dad Felix was also latter to become a business person as the economy was unravelling. He came from a family where the men and women could make, repair, grow and create things with their hands, with what they had.

I learned the same lessons from his mother who raised chickens and sold them in Mpopoma, Bulawayo.

I am a third generation entrepreneur and I am thankful for the example of my parents and grandparents.

So in essence, we can begin to create the culture of entrepreneurship if we start to recognize what and how our grandparents helped put food on the table.

It is time we started asking the elders to teach us what they learned and how they earned whether they had business licences or not.

Surely some did not even think to call it business, just survival.

Because although businesses might be different, the principles are the same.