Fifty-five delegates from around the country joined together in the first ever national SWITCH weekend seminar at the Alpha Conference Centre in Johannesburg. The seminar brings together Switchers from diverse backgrounds who run various projects in their communities to exchange ideas, exchange lessons learned, develop skills and inspire each other to strive for greatness.
Drive, resilience and determination are words Switchers know intimately. After travelling from far and wide, with some spending hours on a bus to get to the seminar, Switchers enthusiastically participated in a networking session, public speaking activity and shared experiences, among others. The day was jam-packed with dynamic speakers and informative presentations created to reinforce the positive gains Switchers have achieved within their individual projects. Said Ndumiso Sokhela from Durban: “For me, the day has enlightened me and provided me with specific information as a networker and public speaker to achieve my project goals.”
Guest speaker, Steve Mululu, CEO of Dream Body kicked off the seminar by emphasising the importance of seizing opportunities. Using an unconventional presentation style, Steve rattled the group by challenging who they are, why they were at the seminar and how they propose to plan for the future. Steve furthermore hammered home the significance of time: “Time is the only true democracy in the world. We only have 24 hours in a day. It doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are time is consistently constant. The difference is what you do with your time. Do you invest your time or spend your time? That will determine how your future unfolds,” he said. Duane Kok from Pietermaritzburg encapsulated Steve in one word “organic.”
Carrie Leaver, SWITCH Co-ordinator gave the group a practical talk on legal forms for social enterprises, touching on essential issues every social enterprise should be cognisant of when registering. Carrie emphasised the importance of understanding the purpose of a ventured social enterprise, and the difference in processes when registering or applying for funds as PTY’s, NPO’s or NGO’s: “130 0000 non-profit organisations are competing for the same funds and corporate spaces are also tighter with money. If you have a sustainable business plan, companies will give you money. You just have to find the right funders,” explained Carrie.
Another guest speaker, Mpumelelo Zulu, founder of Kofi Africa, the first premium coffee bar in Soweto along renowned Vilakazi Street, shared his experience of creating a credible brand and owning his dream: “You need to believe your brand is actually good. That’s why I strive to give my customers a good cup of coffee even when I’m not there,” he said.
The group also participated in a public speaking exercise facilitated by Slilindile Ncube where she highlighted essential public speaking skills required for funding presentations. Erika Joubert presented a session on partnership analysis in order for Switchers to understand collaboration, the difference between developmental partnerships VS ordinary joint ventures and the various forms that partnerships can take.
Although the group was thoroughly spent by the end of the first day, everyone seemed excited to confront the final day of the weekend seminar. At close of the first day, William Sirengqe from Orange Farm said: “It was well organised and the content was fruitful,” while Dean Jates from Western Cape said: “The first day has reminded me that I’m on the right track and its okay to make mistakes, but it’s equally okay to be successful, I can’t wait for tomorrow.”