Tapping into a practical space from the home of Influential Leaders

By Abongile Davani

“What is it that makes this province produce influential leaders? And will we be able to produce these
leaders in the near future?”- Activator Prince Charles

Eastern Cape is one of the provinces which produces bona fide and iconic leaders. On the 22 nd June,
more than 40 Activators  gathered at a provincial Imbizo to tap into a practical space of information sharing, how to start and sustain businesses/projects especially in the first 6 months while moving towards using The Business Canvas Model. The network has been talking and it has been revealed that “anybody can have information.”
At the same time you can talk about how to eat well but not eat well yourself. If you have information you need to put it into practice.”- Malusi Nzimande. He went onto say that “we need to move into a space where we are being  practical as the network.” By demonstration of hands it was evident that most Activators are already in business but are still navigating their way through it.

What is it that the network specifically lacks in the business space? And what do we consider to be a business? The business world can be inspirational and the drive for change is irresistible to many. The reality is that 37.4% young people in the Eastern Cape are unemployed and that is certainly a national crisis. Prince Charles took us through his grandmother’s small business in selling fat cakes and how we overlook that type of business while it sustains families and sends most African children to school from its revenue. It was thought-provoking to acknowledge that most business driven leaders and groups do “not talk more about the dark side of starting and sustaining businesses.”- Nathancia Olivier. The subject should be, how do we look at a business from an African perspective? We cannot run away from the fact that poverty strikes many homes and leaders dream of living a better life but in the midst of that a leader should be able; prioritise; use available funds efficiently; be more innovative and start practicing appropriate
business ethics. Perhaps if we start from “practical information hubs; buy amongst each other for support; use the network as our first client, provide a platform for access to market; collaborate, and hold ourselves accountable to understand business terms” then we would see progress.

Small things that we ignore in African entities that sustain most families can take us far. If the leaders before the current paradigm were able to link different sectors to become iconic as they were then it is possible to produce a powerful wave of influential leaders that will contribute to the economy of the province and South Africa as a country. It is beyond recognition that “being in A! space brings opportunities. We are powerful and have a great impact that has strong influence on the ground within and amongst each other”-Mzwandile Msimang.
The expediency of the Imbizo went as far as EC-YEP Activators taking time to retrospect the latest
Business Development Services Policy draft by The Department of Small Business to bring solutions
that are in the context of issues at hand. This is after going through Business Model Canvas step by
step with Mzwandile.

Young leaders from EC who attended the gathering found the Imbizo to be “thought provoking, necessary to find opportunities of collaboration amongst each other and filling the gaps where necessary while understanding business terms.” We are the living forces that carry the history of our ancestral generations through our bone marrows and our contribution as youth to the economy is much greater than one can ever imagine.

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