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Milk too messy for sterilised corporates

At a pan-African conference with more than 40,000 delegates, one imagines that a not insignificant proportion of attendees are parents of young children. There is also the emerging trend of business travellers who take their children along on business trips, out of choice or circumstance, as I tend to do.

Yet when I asked the conference organisers if they had considered adding a childcare booth as part of the conference amenities, I was met with bewilderment.

I shouldn’t be surprised. I have hosted a conference in Cape Town myself and not once did the thought of childcare enter my mind. We live in a world with hard boundaries between the spheres of paid work and care work. Parents have to split themselves into parts, and in many ways, it remains taboo to let these spheres intersect.

On my first business trip with my baby daughter, I had to attend a two-day conference held at a hotel outside Stellenbosch. I booked into the hotel, located on a large property with lovely walkways and with one of the rooms converted into a cosy playroom. This was not a good way to start, because it was too easy and convenient, and raised my expectations. On the next trip, I ended up at a high-end hotel in the Cape Town central business district. It had great facilities but on inquiring about the playroom I was informed that the hotel caters to business travellers. I, too, am a business traveller.

Once, a client-side colleague on a project told me that when she had a young baby that fact was not visible in her work life. She was juggling graduate school and building a consultancy and none of the people she encountered in her work-life would have guessed that she had a newborn. The implicit advice was that I do the same lest I lose out on opportunities. In the context of our conversation, that advice did not come across as harsh as it might sound and was probably a little exaggerated. But it still raises concern.

Have we set up workspaces where parenting has to be invisible? Where it’s aspirational to take time off for a soul-searching sabbatical but admitting to the demands of childcare seems like shirking?

As one who acts as an adviser to organisations in various capacities, I have a vantage point into the diversity of support offered to parents in the workplace. I have had to pump breast milk in bathrooms (would you make a sandwich in a bathroom?), once in a Top 40 CEO’s office suite (a lovely gesture aimed to conceal inadequate facilities) or at the airport clinic en route to an institution I knew would be hopeless on that front.

But the worst part about pumping is the product.

A US woman entrepreneur, founder of Naya Health Janica Alvarez, set out to revolutionise the user experience with a smart pump that does not make the hideous sound, collects more milk (and useful data) and is truly portable. But she is reported to be struggling to raise the next level of financing from (male-dominated) venture capital firms.

Global health guidelines are unanimous on the value of breast milk, but financiers fail to appreciate the opportunity to transform the user experience.

Finally, I should mention I’ve begun to make a conscious effort to refer to “parents” in discussions, because they so easily scale down to the challenges facing working mothers. The triumphs and trials of modern parenthood are framed as if men are not part of the equation. It is dismissive of fathers, and families led by men only, to proceed from the assumption that a woman should always be the lead parent.

(Published originally on Business Day on 21 November 2017: https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/columnists/2017-11-21-trudi-makhaya-milk-too-messy-for-sterilised-corporates/)

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Social Enterprise Masterclass Challenges Delegates to Build Sustainable Organisations

The concept of social enterprise has gone mainstream over the past few years, reflecting a desire for new ways to create economic value in a manner that delivers measurable social impact. This year’s Global Entrepreneurship Week kicked off on 10 November at the continent’s largest start-up campus, 22 on Sloane in Bryanston. On Wednesday 15 November, the venue hosted masterclasses on various aspects of entrepreneurship such as social entrepreneurship, funding strategies for small business, purpose-driven enterprise, as well as inclusive growth.

The first session, Social Enterprise and Impact Investment, kicked off with Mbali Zamisa, enterprise Programme Coordinator of the South African Breweries Foundation talking about various SAB Foundation enterprises that seek to fund various small businesses. These include the Tholana Enterprise, which seeks to empower marginalised groups such as women, youth and rural business.

The room comprised mostly of determined and engaged entrepreneurs whose business’ life span ranged from one to five years old. Rudzani Mulaudzi from Grades Match and Nneile Nkholise from Likoebe Innovation Consultants spoke about impact investment and measurement.

No let-down was The Disruptors author Kerryn Krige’s talk on the complexities and contradictions of social entrepreneurship and especially what it really is. Her talk featured many salient questions and statements that served as food for thought for entrepreneurs:

  • How am I going build stability in this organization?
  • Legitimacy and authenticity are inextricably linked
  • Funding social value in a sustainable way
  • Social enterprise blends income methods which enables you to have control over the types of income you bring in
  • It’s not about how much money you get!

 

Other important take-aways were about were remembering that ‘‘your story is more important than your numbers but use numbers to back up your stories (“finance people aren’t as stupid as they look!”), and the importance of doing homework on your investor, needing your investor to offer more than just money, and enhancing your own ‘‘investability’’.

The Future of Sustainable Job Creation talk with Managing Director Zanele Luvuno of Transcend Talent Management explored the ways in which policy creation can aid job creation and exposed challenges with implementing BEE legislation. The objective was to invite professionals to see beyond corporate life and tap into research and business development facilities to pursue small business development.

The last session on Integrating the Township and Informal economy by Sifiso Moyo was a dialogical sitting that had all delegates debating on the ways in which the township could benefit more from entrepreneurial ventures. Moyo asked critical questions that involved historical facts, relevant statistics and real-life case studies to observe and analyse successes and failures of a few entrepreneurial ventures in the township. The theme of the Township Renaissance was an indispensable topic that pushed the entrepreneurs, many who are from the township, to shift mentality and think of innovative ways of serving their communities with the intention of creating a strong township eco-system in which the rand would circulate numerous times and not only once in a context where R2.2 billion rand is generated out of township economy annually. This challenge presented the opportunity for township entrepreneurs to become real and legitimate competitors with big competitors and franchises.

Global Entrepreneurship Week endeavours to host more events in which more entrepreneurs will actively and consciously engage with like-minded peers who have succeeded such as Vusi Thembekwayo, who graced this week’s first event. The Masterclasses were informative, thought-provoking, and mostly motivating to the passionate and driven young youth who came to learn from the best in the business.

Written by: Gabaza Tiba (Makhaya Advisory)

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Agricultural data pioneer Gro Intelligence receives financing boost

Gro Intelligence, the New York and Nairobi-based agricultural data analytics business used by investment professionals, major corporations, governments and international organizations around the world, has raised a round of financing led by TPG Growth, the middle market and growth equity platform of alternative asset firm TPG. TPG Growth was joined by Data Collective, and strategic family offices.

Founded in 2014, Gro Intelligence has built one of the world’s most sophisticated products dedicated to search and predictive analytics in agriculture. Gro collects and synthesizes hundreds of trillions of data points from disparate and often previously unavailable sources, providing users unique, comprehensive, and real-time support for mission critical decision-making and operations. Beyond aggregating and transforming data, Gro has developed new analytical tools, algorithms, and predictive models, marrying domain expertise with machine learning to allow users unprecedented current and future insights into the global food and agriculture industry.

“Gro Intelligence is reimagining how data can be used in global agriculture,” said Sara Menker, CEO and Founder of Gro Intelligence. “Agricultural data is complex and messy, historically requiring teams of analysts and huge amounts of time to sort and process. Our product solves this problem and simultaneously opens up a level of analysis previously unavailable to entire sections of the agriculture supply chain. Gro offers unparalleled insights and predictive analytics for our customers. We want to be a leader in the $5 trillion global agricultural industry.”

“TPG Growth has a track record around the world of identifying and building disruptive, market-leading companies,” said Yemi Lalude, Managing Partner, TPG Africa. “Gro Intelligence is transforming how data is used across the agricultural sector and is a natural partner for TPG Growth, given our experience with companies specializing in data, analytics and machine learning. This deal highlights the rich opportunities that exist to invest in early-stage technology companies that have a presence in Africa, but can also operate successfully on a global level.”

The system developed by Gro Intelligence responds to a shortfall of reliable agricultural data globally. Access to accurate, well structured, and current data has the potential to increase agricultural productivity and eliminate inefficiencies. The need for reliable data is only set to increase. In the next decade alone, the world needs to produce an estimated 214 trillion additional calories to feed a total population of 8.3 billion, according to the United Nations.

TPG Growth’s investment was sourced through its strategic relationship with EchoVC, the seed and early-stage venture capital fund that targets early to growth stage deals in the technology sector in sub-Saharan Africa. This is the second investment made pursuant to this relationship this year, following the investment into Frontier Car Group in February 2017.

Learn more about Gro Intelligence: https://gro-intelligence.com/blog/gro-intelligence-fundraising-announcement

Author: Portland Communications

Image Source: https://gro-intelligence.com/team

 

 

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KASI Insight finalists at 2017 World Angel Investment Summit Awards for ‘Most Promising Startup’

This years finalists in The Most Promising Startup category at the World Angel Investment Summit awards are KASI Insight marketing researchers who are pioneering what they call ”grassroots market research”, which ”provides reliable consumer data and actionable insights from Africa in 2 weeks”.

Since 2015, KASI Insight have been using major research hubs to understand and reach burgeoning African consumer segments and have penetrated various fields such as ” mobile banking, shopping habits, ad campaign testing, brand tracking, gap analysis, opinion polling, sensitivity and satisfaction, product usage, business concept validation, lending, and mobile app usage in the biggest countries in Africa”.

With over four million responses, KASI Insight continues to ”disrupt the African market research industry” and looks forward to empowering more business leaders and entrepreneurs looking to tap into the fast-growing markets of Africa.

For more information visit: https://www.kasiinsight.com/about

 

 

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MZANSIPRENEUR Q&A: Aramex Drop Box the perfect delivery solution for small business

Always on the look-out for great solutions that take the hassle out of running a business, MZANSIPRENEUR spoke to the folks at Aramex Drop Box about their nation-wide and international delivery service.

  1. Tell us about the Aramex Drop Box.

Aramex Drop Box is a store-to-door courier service located in over 540 participating Pick n Pay and FreshStop stores nation-wide.

  1. Where in the country does Aramex offer these services? And for how much?

For just R99, you can send a parcel to ANY destination in South Africa. For R299, loose documents can be delivered to any destination worldwide.

  1. What parcels/objects can be delivered through the service?

Drop Box is the ideal option for sending documents, parcels and gifts throughout SA, as well as for sending loose documents internationally.

  1. What is the process involved in sending a parcel?

Drop Box is super simple to use in 3 easy steps:

  • Buy a pack from participating Pick n Pay or FreshStop stores
  • Following the easy instructions on the pack, complete the waybill (a form) and insert it into the pouch on the courier sleeve
  • Drop the package into the Aramex Drop Box. We’ll collect Monday – Friday at 15h00 (unless specified otherwise) and deliver in no time!
  1. How long do deliveries take?

Drop Box is an express courier service for main centre deliveries so packages are delivered by 12h00 the following business day. Packages sent to outlying areas are delivered within 1 – 3 business days.

  1. Can I use my credit card?

Drop Box packs can be purchased from participating Pick n Pay and FreshStop stores using credit cards, debit cards or cash. No payment is required from the receiver of the parcel.

  1. In what ways could Aramex Drop Box be beneficial to small businesses and start-up online stores?
  • It is a fixed cost of R99 to send shipments nationwide with Aramex Drop Box – there are no month-end surprises when it comes to your courier bill.
  • Drop Box delivers overnight to main centres – urgent packages can be sent for only R99.
  • Drop Boxes are conveniently located in over 540 Pick n Pay and FreshStop stores nationwide – packages are dropped in the Drop Box and there is no need to be available for a courier collection.
  • All parcels can be tracked on our website.

Visit http://www.aramex.co.za/store_to_door_courier/ for more information and to find your nearest Drop Box location.

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