www.symbios.co.za is live – although I am going to update the Team page later on.
Derived from the word Symbiosis which means “the interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.”
I’m officially in business!
With the help and guidance of two good friends, I have founded Symbios, a business that incorporates CSI into enterprise growth strategies. The goal is to create and facilitate sustainable CSI projects that go beyond positive PR. We want to make a genuine investment in the communities our clients operate in.
I’ve worked on two projects – from the planning to implementation to evaluation – and it’s exhilarating to see them transpire. I love business and I’m driven by a desire to make a positive impact. I cannot wait to get more work done.
I am, at heart, a philanthropist. It makes me feel good to know that someone is benefiting from my actions. It is not about how good I will look, what drives me is the ability to make a positive impact on someone’s life. That is power. Power isn’t about having control over people, it is about the ability to change lives and make great things happen. We all possess this power, but most of us do not harness it.
I am entrepreneur because I have identified an issue, albeit accidentally, and I stepped up and decided to address it. I am new to entrepreneurship – in fact, I have told myself that I am merely engaging in a few “projects” but someone I respect and admire, referred to me an entrepreneur, and so I affirm this.
The issue that I have identified is social discrepancy among South Africans, I live in an upper-middle class suburb with the richest people to the left of me and extreme poverty to my right. I want to live like the people on the left but I cannot ignore the people on the right. I have spent six years actively engaging in fundraising for and volunteering at many NGOS. It is hard work, but hard work has never detoured my sense of responsibility.
I have also noticed how NGOs PLEAD and BEG for money and resources. I do not want to plead, I want to encourage businesses to be responsible corporate citizens because they have the means to make a substantial impact.
I aim to address this by incorporating CSI to a business’s growth strategy. This is not merely donating money to random NGOs, to address the issue, we need a sustainable solution. I want to work with businesses and employees to select a cause that is relevant to that business and plan a long term project which is ultimately a genuine investment in the community. A business WILL reap the rewards – and there are many rewards. Forget using CSI to look good, consumers can see through that. I am passionate about helping people and I coordinate projects in a hands-on way. I have always been 100% involved at EVERY step and ensure proper feedback and evaluation with regard to every project that I have undertaken, whether in my personal capacity or with Rotaract and NGOs.
Essentially, I will be spending someone else’s money on my passion. My passion is people and social development. However this does not mean that I don’t enjoy the finer things in life or that I won’t splurge occasionally – because I will, but it brings me joy to know that I have done something to help – to help a business enhance their competitive advantage and retain loyal consumers AND to help the communities they operate in, thrive.
I was fortunate to have been selected as a Mentee for this year’s Mentoring Walk in Johannesburg – it is a global initiative where young aspirant women leaders are paired with a successful, well established female leaders and business women. Over 70 cities from over 50 countries participated, so it is a pretty big deal!
Mentorship is an empowering tool and it equips a person (mentee) with sound advice, guidance, and support in order for them to progress in their personal and professional life. However, approaching someone to be your mentor can be intimidating.
When you remove the expensive clothes and the fancy office, the invisible barriers fall away and this allows you to interact with these incredible women in a way that does not make you feel less than they are, suddenly, you are face-to-face with a regular human being.
Being International Women’s Day, the walk on 8th March was nothing short of special and inspiring. There were women from around the globe present with equally impressive stories. I met VP’s of large corporates, founders of NGOs and entrepreneurs – ladies from different walks of life who are products of a broad range of circumstances (some were retrenched, others were victims of traumatic events, some had no money to pay for their education and others who were born into wealth) but there was one common thread – ambition and drive. These women are no strangers to hardwork and sacrifice. The wealth of knowledge in that room was infinite, and I walked out feeling like a million bucks. My mentor, Irisha Luhanga, the founder of Redefine Human Capital, has a remarkable depth to her and she has sparked my entrepreneurial desire. Cultivating healthy relationships is very important and everybody has something to offer. Thank you to the Passionate Professional for the opportunity to be a part of a network of incredible women!
Entrepreneurship – The only ship worth boarding.
Starting a business is easy, keeping it afloat is the difficult part – there are MILLIONS of things to do and ideas shoot out of me like a bullets from a pistol in the hands of a trigger happy fanatic who drank too much and who’s waving it around like he just doesn’t care (phew that’s a mouthful) my point- ideas are easy. You need the drive and the passion to follow it through. You need to be wholly invested in an idea and that is the hardest part.
I started a business in high-school, made a profit and closed shop. It was small, but that freedom of being financially independent (not having to ask for an advance on my allowance) stuck with me. Since then, I have always wanted to have something of my own – but I have never been so determined about this until recently, when the thought of having someone else dictate how many hours I should work and how to work felt suffocating. Of course, I do not mind working, I welcome it – it’s the best way to learn and improve skills, however, if there is one thing I value, it’s making my own decisions – and how I spend my time is a very important decision.
Distance learning has enabled me to study however and whenever I wanted to – in my pajamas; on the floor; day or night; before bed; on the beach… and so on. I crave a career that allows me this freedom, I would much rather invest 168 hours a week on my own business, than 45 hours a week on someone else’s. Wouldn’t you?