Originally from KwaNdebele in Mpumalanga, Mashigo says there are very few opportunities for young people in her hometown.
“My upbringing led me to the realisation that many young people don’t know that they can use their talents and natural gifts to create jobs and employ themselves,” she says. “This inspired me to create a platform that allows young people to acquire a new skill and enjoy themselves. I would like to play a role in discovering and shaping young African performers to realise their dreams.”
The power of music
Mashigo established the Nubreed Music Institute in Kwaggafontein in 2014. The NGO offers locals under the age of 21 free keyboard, bass, acoustic guitar, drums, singing, African instruments and theory lessons. She also assists students in obtaining music certification from UNISA and helps them in forming bands and attending various auditions.
“There are so many benefits of learning to play music,” she says. “It helps to boost the student’s confidence, empowers them by learning a new skill, allows them to think more creatively and offers them the opportunity to pursue music-related career opportunities.”
A slow start
Mashigo established Nubreed with her personal savings. The first year was a struggle financially as the NGO received no funding and parents were unwilling to pay towards music lessons. She had a high staff turnover as she was unable to pay teachers and many students quit after just a few classes.
“It wasn’t easy in the beginning, but we have made significant progress. After hosting a number of successful events such as #KwaNdebeleGotTalent, we have become a recognised brand in the region. We are focused on attracting quality students that will all go on to pass their UNISA music exams. I was recently chosen to attend the Monash South Africa Lead 2016/17 Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurs, which presents a great opportunity for NuBreed to shine,” says Mashigo
She adds that she often has to persuade parents to allow their children to attend music lessons as there are some misconceptions that music isn’t studied formally or music tends to lead people astray. “We have had to educate not only the students, but the community on what opportunities music can present.”
A high note
Mashigo is also a Young African Leaders Initiative alumnus. “In August I was invited to the USAID Development Partners Forum to talk about youth development with different heads of embassies and policy makers. This was a phenomenal opportunity and it taught me to use my voice to advocate for greater causes. I have discovered that I’m not just a local leader but a global leader and I must make decisions that complement this truth.”
Today Nubreed is funded by its various fundraising campaigns and donations from corporates and individuals. Mashigo has her mind set on building the first school for the arts in KwaNdebele, launching a branch in Johannesburg, and eventually expanding nationwide.
“I’ve learnt that while people may be ‘proud of you’, they often aren’t willing to help. If you want to do anything, you need to do it yourself. It’s also important to tap into your natural gifts and to walk your own path,” concludes Mashigo.
For more information about Nubreed, follow Mashigo on Twitter: @leewamashigo and @nubreedMI