Black Like Me. Before our shelves were stocked with Dark and Lovely and L’Oreal, back in apartheid South Africa, Herman Mashaba dared to build a brand called Black Like Me. A home-grown hair care line created under what must have been tough conditions in the bleak 1980s. Like too many of today’s youths, when he started out, he had no professional qualifications and had never been employed by anyone. Almost thirty years later, he has managed to build a reputation as a mzansipreneur of note.
Mashaba has recently written an article ‘Racial myths stand in the way of entrepreneurship’. In it, he debunks some myths that black and white businesspeople hold about each other, and that get in the way of cross-racial collaboration in this country. Instead he argues that:
“The country requires new partnerships. The new challenges require new solutions. We need to create a reality for ourselves where we are actors and not acted upon, where we shape the economic ground on which we walk and not depend on others to clear the way. Business must wake up to this new positioning — how we forge links, how we actively position and market ourselves favourably as players in our local economies and in the world market.
Our history has written itself in black and white. Our present and future are far more multicoloured and magnificent than we can possibly imagine. As entrepreneurs, we need to start a new chapter in our history, no longer as black and white, but as South African business asserting itself nationally and in the world.” (Herman Mashaba, Business Day).
Also catch him sharing some insights at GIBS (video): Mashaba at GIBS