(Mel and I before the Expresso shoot)
By: Catherine Young
So our experience of #GEW2015 was extraordinary! We had very little sleep but much fun! Feedback received from the SMEs was overwhelming. They loved the engagement, mentoring, advice and focus on their businesses. With our #inmyshoes campaign we endeavoured to feature a startup per day for the week, and we therefore want to share with you the feature per day for days three, four and five of last week.
By day three we reached the halfway mark for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2015 and the feeling was overwhelming with the level of support we saw for SMEs. It was very evident that SMEs are supported in a massive way throughout Africa by corporates and governments alike, and the media is helping greatly in spreading the message as wide and as often as possible that SMEs are the future of many economies throughout our continent. We had the privilege of showcasing two entrepreneurs that we worked with over the last while on the South African SABC3 morning Expresso Show. The show was kind enough to allow these SMEs some airtime to talk about their challenges, their journey to date, and how to keep on keeping on.
One of the SMEs who accompanied us to the show on Wednesday morning was Melanie Botha from Orpheo International (www.orpheointernational.com) with a product they (Mel and her sister Sonja) recently launched called “It’s Me African Paper Dolls” through their Women Life Studio initiative. Orpheo International’s main focus are on two main pillars of helping others grow, predominantly: 1. Growing women in Africa; and 2. Growing SMEs in Africa. I asked Melanie to share a day in her shoes with us and to explain why growing others are so important to her.
This is her sharing a day in her shoes.
Mel worked in the corporate environment for many years, where after she decided to take the big step into entrepreneurship on a full-time basis. She traded stability for risk, certainty for excitement and the known for the unknown. Her energy levels were infectious as she explained her passion for the business and her hope to help SMEs and Women in Africa. She believes in paying it forward, and doing the work she does fulfills her. If you were part of the discussion you would clearly observe the same. She works a fifteen hour day most days. Weekend is only a word in the dictionary and she is relentless in her pursuit of connecting the dots. She clearly has a heart of gold, as she speaks, passionately, about helping. Albeit helping young African girls find identity or helping SMEs gain access to markets.
With their "It's Me African Paper Dolls" product, that Mel and Sonja made available in both South Africa and Ethiopia as a start, they found inspiration in the fact that young African girls can find a strong sense of identity through engaging with products that help them to do so. They launched the It’s Me African Doll Series successfully in Ethiopia and South Africa will be launched next. This is the perfect gift for young girls over the festive season at only R249 per pack! To order the product in time for festive season gifts, click here: http://itsmedolls.co.za/.
I wonder often what our economy, our world would look like if we make a conscious decision to start buying from small businesses. We have the ability as consumers to create jobs through our purchasing behaviour, and in turn change the world.
Why would we not?