The Faculty of Arts and Design (FoAD) hosted its third FoAD Entrepreneurship Week 2020 webinar last Wednesday, 28 October 2020 via MS Teams.
With the theme being Entrepreneurship and Communication, guest speakers such as Paula Thomson, Karen Monk Klijnstra, Lunga Shabangu and Nokwanda Ncwane shared their creative entrepreneurial journeys on their ‘road’ to entrepreneurship.
Opening the webinar was Thomson, who has worked with the Hillcrest AIDS Centre Trust for over 17 years managing the centres Economic Empowerment project Woza Moya. This project aims to uplift and upskill patients and community members who are impacted by HIV/AIDS to earn an income through traditional craft techniques, mainly beadwork.
Woza Moya works with over 1500 crafters assisting each crafter with design, product development and access to market. Its claim to fame are several large commissions, Woza’s beading of the largest beaded love letter, that was commissioned by the Moses Mabhida stadium in Durban in 2010; the biggest beaded billboard commissioned by Toyota in 2018 and the Dreams for Africa chair that travelled the world collecting dreams.
Thomson spoke on her subproject, Woza Moya and how the journey had begun, emphasising it all began with the aim of putting food on the tables of patients.
“At that time there was no treatment available for HIV/Aids and it has come a long way. My role at the Hillcrest Aids Centre is to work with patients that have come up through our hospital and work with them to earn an income, and so we do that in various ways. We identify skills if they have a skill. We have done crocheting, quilting, sewing, and our main focus is beadwork,” she said.
She stressed that Woza Moya started18 years ago with about 10% of the crafters, and those skills were shared with other members, making them experts in the field, 18 years later. Another point she mentioned is that they did not want to step on the traditional bead workers’ toes, and left the door open for them.
“On a Thursday, all the traditional beaders who work in the Valley of a Thousand Hills, will come and sell their beadwork to us and we don’t influence the design or patterns, and we buy all our traditional beadwork from the traditional crafters, focusing on is making more contemporary beadwork using new colours and new patterns,” she said.
She also spoke further on the importance of branding in a business, saying that what worked in terms of social media was putting up a story on Facebook with a link to the brand shop.
Renowned designer, Karen Monk Klijnstra spoke of her fashion journey both locally and internationally. She focused her talk on her career in the commercial fashion industry. Klijnstra is the director of her own clothing design business. She also specialises in street-based fashion across Mens, Ladies and Children’s wear and offer a made to order Haute Couture Service.
“For those of you who want to open your own business, it is good to get into commercial business industry first before you open your own, as it teaches you a lot about work ethics, pacing yourself, and also exposes you to your contacts within your particular field,” she said.
Klijnstra said that she personally learnt incredible skills on how to deal with people, people on the streets, at grassroots level, so nothing one learns in the industry is ever wasted.
“Always take opportunities to learn how to communicate because communication is the most vital aspect of running a business, especially if you trying to sell something, you need to package yourself first,” she said.
Sharing his experience in the business world was the dynamic Cebo Dladla, a second-year language Practice student, who along with his friends have started a business that makes clothing for teenagers, and women’s clothing.
He indicated that studying Language Practice has helped him with his communication skills, and this has helped him branch out to a different kind of audience, even giving him the opportunity to communicate with the hearing impaired (deaf) people for his business as well.
“Whatever you do, just keep working hard to achieve your goals. Keep true to yourself and everything will work out in the end, no matter what work or field that you are in,” he said.
Shabangu, a DUT Language Practice graduate gave more insight into his business, where he is the founding member of SATIF recordings, a Language company that provides transcripts for recorded proceedings.
“I realised that the importance of entrepreneurship is that the idea has got to be bigger than you. I am doing my business to assist those who require assistance concerning language services which is a broad industry and one can survive by transcribing alone, and you can make a profit. Also, with the service you provide you have to find out what the client really requests,” he said.
Lastly, he emphasised that one needs to be better, faster and more affordable to one’s clients.
The last speaker of the webinar was Nokwanda Ncwane, a Journalism student at DUT, who during lockdown focused her ‘creative juices’ into her baking business.
She stressed that instead of focusing on just obtaining employment, one needs to create one’s own employment opportunities because there is job scarcity and South Africa has a high unemployment rate.
Pictured: One of the speakers at the webinar, Paula Thomson. (https://www.facebook.com/HillcrestAidsCentreTrust/photos)