While radio broadcaster, film producer and owner of Zinokwanda Media & Communications Khanyi Magubane started her venture with zero start-up capital, she now makes an annual turnover of R2,5 million.  

Since her early teens, Johannesburg-born Magubane has been in tune with her creative side. Whether she was participating in poetry sessions, theatre or debates, she was a story-teller. It took the guidance of many different people in her journey to blossom into the media titan she is today, but no one’s influence has been more vital than that of her parents. “I attribute everything I am to them. I grew up in a family who loved and promoted education,” she says.

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For that reason, her path led her to the University of Johannesburg, where her studies formed the foundation of her illustrious media career. She got her start in radio and journalism at Talk Radio 702 before working at SAFM, where she became well versed in working both in front of and behind the scenes.

However, as a story-teller, Magubane knew a career in film was inevitable.

“This is what I was born to do. I’ve always loved writing and being creative. I’ve never been satisfied doing one thing – I’m always hungry to learn and grow,” she says.

Her venture into filmmaking began when she was commissioned to head a project by the SABC to repurpose archival footage and create new content. From there, she developed an affinity for producing and directing documentary and fictional works, including the critically acclaimed Why Are We So Angry?Sheroes and Amukelani, among many others.

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With an extensive production resumé, the 39-year-old decided to form Zinokwanda Media & Communications, a multi-division company that offers consultancy, public relations and film and TV production services. She started the business in 2011 with no capital: all she had were a laptop, a cellphone and a vision. “I wanted my company to reflect who I was and be a one-stop shop for media services,” she recalls.

However, being a businesswoman came with many lessons. Magubane’s had to learn to value her brand, while dealing with the highs and lows that come with being an entrepreneur.

“It’s not as glamorous as it looks. You’ve got to understand that rejection’s part of the game. You’ve got to deal with more ‘no’s’ than ‘yes’s’, but the ‘no’s’ prepare you for the great moments, once they come,” she says.

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Dealing with clients, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. “One of the most difficult parts of being an entrepreneur is having to fire people. It’s never easy, because I intrinsically believe in developing them,” she says, adding that she’s a tough, but fair employer who challenges her staff members to realise their full potential. “I love helping people discover themselves. I hire people to build them.”

While she’s already accomplished what many only dream of doing, Magubane has her sights set on more, including expanding Zinokwanda beyond the borders of SA.

“As an entrepreneur, I’m not just building an empire – I’m building a legacy,” she says. 

Author: Lethabo Nxumalo