“Thriving as underdogs”. That was the main thought around the latest Yoco Meets with Mokgadi Mabela, founder of Native Nosi and our very own Divya Vasant. The women chatted with Pelontle Mosimege, the creator and host of She Brigade, about how they have navigated the task of owning a small business in 2021 as women.
During the brief introduction from the two women, Divya recounted that AMAZI is not a company, it is rather an ecosystem that allows women to meet their self-care needs while giving a hand up for other women to learn and earn.
Pelontle posed a question to Mokgadi about the challenges that came from inheriting her company from her father, to which Mokgadi broke down her story of how she came to take over without having any plan to. All from her love for honey. She navigated the journey along with being a mom and working with her father as a farmer. She’s been able to grow in the business by focusing on creating premium honey for the market. Showing how keeping your eyes on your purpose fuels your growth. Mokgadi also dropped a very informative tip; keep the rest of the noise out so you can focus on your why.
Through answering a question about how she supports underdogs while being one herself, Divya also broke down the AMAZI SHEtribe story, from the humble beginnings of just a laptop and whatever space she could find. Back then, AMAZI started as a skills-training programme, finding a way for women to not only learn a new skill but earn with it as well. As the ecosystem evolved, Divya found that she needed to create access to the market for these women to earn with their skills. Thus opening up the Nail & Beauty Bars, and giving the everyday women the opportunity to support the underdog as well.
Creating sustainability and with impact is still something new to South Africa. The marriage between a nonprofit and for-profit wasn’t taught, but rather kept separate. So, Divya had to learn how to meld the two worlds together; doing good while making a profit. Although it did not come without its own struggles. Divya narrated a story of the first time she was stolen from, by a woman she had personally invested time and effort into. Teaching her that it’s not about unconditionally giving, it’s about accountability, expectation and a two-way process.
Mokgadi related to this story, as she opened up a store in Pretoria and hired two young employees. Through opening her store, Mokgadi also gave a hand up to another marginalised woman that needed support. She tries to make a difference where she can while focusing on her business, finding challenges along the way including funding stock and beehives. Despite these challenges, she found that she had to stock her own honey and manage the red tapes that come with access to the market. To her, the key is collaborating. With AMAZI, Native Nosi the relationship allows for increased awareness and opportunities.
A personal challenge Divya encountered when she started AMAZI SHEtribe, was the fact that she was considerably young and still finding herself. She was on her own and played to her strengths but didn’t think she needed help from others. As she tried to figure out how to pay bills and grow the business, she found herself burnt out and crying herself to sleep with anxiety and the crippling feeling of failure. Divya finally realised that she had to invest in her relationship with herself, and her purpose. After that, she brought on her co-founders, growing the team and allowing AMAZI to take on a life of her own. Removing her own restrictions on her growth. From her experience in the banking industry, she believes that it teaches too much self-importance especially when young. Learning the importance of working on yourself is not as common.
Advice for the underdogs of SA, Mokgadi plainly states “Just start and be honest”. Open up a social page, research, do things that you have at your disposal. You don’t need to stay in one place and expect what you need to land in your lap. You need to demonstrate your work, your plans and start investing in what you want to achieve. Help comes in different ways, but they need to find you doing something to show your worth.
Divya’s advice expands on Mokgadi’s point; people invest in people initially before the business. To inspire people to follow you, you need to give everything you can into making your dream a reality. Secondly, Divya says that it is important to uncover your purpose. Passion and purpose don’t live on the same level. Using the ikigai concept, find what the world needs and if you can solve it, and if people are willing to pay for it. Solving the problem comes a little harder than being passionate about something that might not be a need.
After a Q&A session - Yoco Meets is wrapped up by a few parting words from the women. Mokgadi lets the viewers know that no one has it all figured out and experience is your best teacher. Divya shares her mantra “you don’t need to be anything more than what you are and you don’t need to need to do any more than what you are doing”. Because you have everything you need within you and the universe will conspire for your purpose. Feel free to watch the live for the full talk, it was definitely an empowering and insightful talk.