SA: Matsi and Jena, could we start by asking you to tell us about yourselves?
MM: I’m the Managing Director of SiMODiSA, which is an industry association for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. We’re essentially the golden thread that connects the entrepreneurship eco-system in SA, as we feel it’s a very fragmented space that’s still often difficult to navigate. SiMODiSA’s task is to connect stakeholders through engaging with funding and, in particular, the venture capital space.
JM: I started off in the automotive industry, working with General Motors, Jaguar SA and Daimler-Chrysler. I was very settled in the luxury brand market, but at the same time, I was looking for a school for my little girl. I was a busy parent who just didn’t know which school would offer her all the benefits I’d had in my younger years. My family had a brilliant pre-school for 20 years in Belgium, so I’d been exposed to the best and I wanted that for her. I later resigned and then enrolled as a student myself and obtained a Master’s degree in business management. Education had become a priority for me, so I started the Little Ashford Preschool Group with R5 000 in just one room, with my daughter as my first pupil and me trying to motivate the neighbours to come and enjoy my little space! We now have 10 branches.
SA: Khanyi, Ndalo Media also has interesting plans in the education sector. Could you share what’s on the cards for the next few months?
KD: For this year’s Power of 40 issue, we thought we should do a cover that not only celebrates diverse examples of excellent African women. DESTINY MAN has a similar list covering men. These lists also hone in on people who are in industries that we’re expanding in as Ndalo Media. This is the education and mentorship space, plus careers and business support. Going forward, we’re taking our Good Schools Report supplement – which we’ve run as a print product for seven years – digital. We’re creating a platform, www.goodschoolsreport.com, which will offer much more dynamic and versatile school-search capabilities according to various metrics, including fees, activities, facilities and diversity, in addition to providing premium educational content. We feel this ties in seamlessly with our pay-off line, “Positively impacting lives”. While the platform is a business idea that will generate revenue for us, it’s also one we believe will have a positive impact in terms of empowering and helping parents, educators, children themselves and other stakeholders such as investors to gather quality data and information on schools.
As for our second project, we’ve been dabbling in the mentorship space for a long time. Both DESTINY and DESTINY MAN have mentorship in their DNA in terms of the content we carry, which is aimed at helping readers enhance their lives, careers and businesses. We try to ensure they get the inspiration, direction and information they need to make bold, powerful decisions for themselves. I’m also often personally approached by people who want to be mentored and the challenges frequently involve time and capacity. It’s also common for people to struggle with the structure of a mentorship relationship. So we’re launching MentorFeed (www.mentorfeed.com), to bring mentees together to ask questions of people they probably wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. The website will also offer peer mentorship opportunities, as well as comprehensive advice about personal development, careers and entrepreneurship, drawn from carefully curated articles, podcasts and videos. In addition, we’re developing some key online courses. It’s being designed as a platform where people can openly share what they do and don’t know, and hopefully obtain information that helps them become the best they can be.
Both platforms are currently in development and we plan to launch them in the first quarter of 2017.