They procrastinated about starting their own digital TV channel for over two years, but now actresses Salamina Mosese and Stephina Zwane have officially launched Aza TV.

Excited by the ever-evolving digital TV arena, the pair decided to launch a digital TV channel under their production company, which they started over ten years ago.

“The idea for Aza TV came about in 2011 – we’ve been talking about it for almost three years. We realised that the media is changing daily, and we asked ourselves: what are these changes and how do we contribute to them?

“It’s been something we knew we would eventually get into, either part-time or as a full-time venture. The channel comes after many years of conversation, ideas and planning. Because we were both focused on different things, we couldn’t fully commit to the project until now,” Mosese says.

They’ve been friends since their teens and both women share a passion for telling stories – authentic African stories. They wanted to find a platform from which to share them.

“When we were growing up we were not so conscious about Africa and who we are. As you get older, you start to ask yourself . . . who am I and how do I fit into the greater picture of Africa? You start to travel more and you meet people, and that shapes you. That’s where the idea for Aza TV stems from,” Mosese explains.

The realisation that they could do something big, that would not only give South African producers a chance to showcase their work, but also film and television producers from across the continent, made the idea even more appealing.

As great as their idea was, Mosese and Zwane knew nothing would happen without money. Like so many other young entrepreneurs before them, they soon learnt that sourcing funding was tough. They were rejected so many times that they eventually lost count.

People are stressed in this economy and it’s not easy for anyone, even for banks to give money to ideas, but it’s important for entrepreneurs to keep believing in their ideas and developing them.

So Steph and I thought it was going to take a long time for us to get this baby off the ground, but it was okay, because we were going to own our facilities. It was a matter of saving and saving and begging for favours,” Mosese recalls.

Banks were reluctant to invest in the project as its success could not be guaranteed.

“It is difficult for any start-up to get funding because you can’t say on paper that it is really going to work. At the end of the day, online is about numbers and we can’t guarantee that it is going to work, until you are online. So we did have to pitch and we got a lot of rejections. We had to invest some of our money into this,” she says.

They had to invest nearly R700 000 of their own money into the company.

To show their commitment to the project Mosese, who was working on SABC2’s soapie 7de Laan, and Zwane, who was producing Mzansi Magic’s Sifun’Ukwazi left their jobs to give the Aza TV their all.

The channel was officially launched last week and now that their vision has become a reality, we ask how the pair plans to generate income from the channel?

“We hope to partner with other stakeholders, either with show sponsorship so that shows start paying for themselves or by advertising,” says Zwane.

Transitioning from acting to entrepreneurship is a big adjustment for Mosese and Zwane and they’re learning every day.

“It’s not easy to start something from scratch. You must have tenacity, because it’s very easy to just give up when you think your idea is not going to work. We’ve had to grow thick skins because you know you’ll get 13 rejections but you just have hope that one ‘yes’ will eventually come your way,” says Zwane.

Mosese adds that it’s important that entrepreneurs never give up on their dreams.

“People are stressed in this economy and it’s not easy for anyone, even for banks to give money to ideas, but it’s important for entrepreneurs to keep believing in their ideas and developing them,” she says.

Aza TV is a live-streaming channel that allows viewers to watch content online via their smartphones or tablets once they’ve downloaded the Aza TV app from www.Azatv.co.za or the Play app store.

The channel currently offers four shows focused on lifestyle, health, entertainment and inspiration.