Why succession planning is an opportunity

BY Fast Company Contributor 3 MINUTE READ

As leaders, one of our biggest fears is no longer having a meaningful role to play in our organisations. For many business leaders, the fear of obsoletion can be crippling, especially when it comes to the vital process of succession planning. However, if done correctly, succession planning can afford South African organisations an opportunity to tap into diversity, build resilience, and architect a sustainable future.

We see fear of giving up power as the biggest inhibitor of good succession planning. Leaders see succession planning as losing control of the business, or sending a message that they are no longer useful or even relevant, rather than focussing on the opportunity of the process – which is creating a lasting legacy. Most of the action businesses have taken have been, at best, to designate succession planning as an HR initiative, and at worst, to succumb to virtue signalling in an effort to appear to care. Very few are talking about a systemic overhaul of how the company operates.

Leadership and culture must be codified

Exploring succession planning challenges a little further, Hawke says another common mistake she sees is that, in many businesses, culture is not codified. She says leaders can’t create a succession plan if they are not inspired and aligned on what great leadership looks like, adding that companies must have a common understanding of what leadership for growth looks like.

Everyone wants their life to mean something, and when you ask leaders to reflect on what they would be most proud of, growing people will always be part of that. Work we did with the successful payments and software platform, Yoco, saw this process in action. The leadership team needed to reset their role in the company. As much as they wanted to build a sustainable business with succession planning, the DNA of the business sat with the four founders and so until that was codified and made explicit and replicable, there was no way they could pass it on and scale the business.

Katlego Maphai, Yoco’s CEO has said of the process: “As an organisation scales, it’s essential to codify how you thrive — finding the unique behaviours that link to unique outcomes and that are difficult to replicate. Our values aren’t aspirational, and they aren’t borrowed from other great companies. They are a reflection of how we’ve done things when we were at our best.”

Moving away from traditional frameworks

In another growth business we’ve worked with, the overriding parent-child leadership style was impeding growth.

We worked with them to co-create their purpose and values – the foundations of their culture. By building ownership and getting a team alignment of what a successful business looks like we could move them away from the traditional parent-child relationship affecting so many local companies. Once everyone is in an adult space of responsibility and accountability you have the ability to move forward with plans for growth and future leadership.

Ultimately a business builds its future sustainability when it is not reliant on individuals. However, each leader is motivated by different things.

Our experience of leaders committed to building organisations that will survive and thrive, is that they are motivated by different things. Some are inspired by building pioneering businesses that pave the way for change, others might see empowered teams as the new source of growth in a business. What these leaders have in common is a sense that what has got us here, will not serve us in the future. For example, traditional hierarchies mean power and decision making is limited to a few people at the top. In a fast changing environment this can be very inefficient, not to mention extremely stressful as we have seen through the pandemic.

The pressure for leaders to have all the answers is prohibitive. Holding a mindset of curiosity, and really listening to people across the organisation not only grows leaders of the future, but engages the whole organisation in problem solving, enhancing everyone’s sense of contribution which really energises a system. These are the leaders that will build the companies of the future.

The opportunity of diversity

While so many South African organisations see succession planning as a chore, the Within People team believes it is a real opportunity for local companies to architect a more diverse, equitable and inclusive organisation – one which could be done meaningfully and organically, rather than the often mechanical and forced equity deals so often concluded.

We are at the infancy of understanding the real benefits of diversity, equity and inclusivity. Many see it as difficult to build an organisation when people come from very different backgrounds, but we should rather view it as a valuable opportunity. With some good leadership work and the right mindset, succession planning can be so much more than a compliance tick-boxing exercise. We could be laying the foundations of a strong, resilient organisation that is able to respond well to change – and in today’s environment that means companies are gaining far more than a new leader to take over when the current one retires.

By Kim Hawke, partner at global partnership of growth strategists, Within People


Meet the new Principal of the UCT Online High School

BY Fast Company Contributor 5 MINUTE READ

Bolstering the launch announcement, the University of Cape Town is proud to confirm the placement of its UCT Online High School Director and Principal, Ms Yandiswa Xhakaza, who is an avid educationalist

In July this year, the University of Cape Town (UCT) launched an online high school, and in doing so became the first university on the African continent to extend its expertise and impact to the secondary schooling market through an innovative online modality.

The public response has exceeded all expectations, indicative of the global need for innovation in the education sector. Across South Africa’s cities and towns, and the African continent; parents, learners and teachers have shown interest in this revolutionary education offering, with over 4 000 learner applications for January 2022 and climbing.

Bolstering the launch announcement, the University of Cape Town is proud to confirm the placement of its UCT Online High School Director and Principal, Ms Yandiswa Xhakaza, who is an avid educationalist.

Yandiswa experienced the dire consequences of an unequal education system as a young girl. These inequalities left an imprint in her life so profound that she has dedicated her whole life to finding effective solutions to provide high-quality education at scale.

Starting out as an English teacher in 2010, Yandiswa has grown tremendously and has continuously upskilled herself, travelling the world to learn best practice from other countries. She brings a wealth of knowledge, having started and operated a school in Centurion in 2017. She is a prolific leader and comes from leading a national literacy organisation, the Nal’ibali Trust, where she served as CEO.

She holds a Bachelor of Education degree (Wits University), Postgraduate Diploma in Management (Wits University) and a Master of Business Administration (University of Pretoria). Her incredible

operational skills and large-scale implementation capabilities are both going to be resourceful in her new role as UCT Online High School Director and Principal.

Yandiswa believes that UCT Online High School is exactly what this country needs, offering high-quality education at scale. She explains: “Online education in our context will always come with its own fair share of challenges as a developing country. The digital divide is significant and we have to work around the digital barriers such as poor network coverage, data costs, access to devices and computer literacy to mention a few. This is exactly the type of challenge I am excited about, because when we get this right, it will be a massive win for all of us.”

Yandiswa begins her tenure as the Director and Principal of the UCT Online High School from November 2021 ahead of its first official cohort, cementing her role as its leader from an early onset.

‘’I am delighted to be joining the UCT Online High School team pioneering such amazing work and I look forward to breaking barriers and working towards the accomplishment of something so deeply personal to me, a course I have been preparing my whole life to chart forth.’’

UCT Vice Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng welcomed the appointment. “Yandiswa embodies what we as an institution stand for: building an inclusive society using the knowledge and resources that we possess. With her leading us on this journey we will be building a more equitable and sustainable social order and influencing our young people from an early age to prepare them for the demands of higher education and society. Her experiences and passion is just what we need to make a success of the UCT Online High School, which is a key project of the university’s Vision 2030 and shows how we are committed to unleashing human potential across our society.”

She added: “Yandiswa’s commitment to education and willingness to continuously better herself for the good of her students is evident from her experience as a teacher, school leader and educationalist. We could not be happier that she will be joining the UCT OHS team and leading us on this incredible journey that is anchored in our Vision 2030 strategy to unleash human potential for a fair and just society and on our three pillars of transformation, excellence and sustainability. She is acutely aware of the challenges we face as a nation when it comes to democratising education and she has proven over the years how she is able to begin to bridge the divide. Her experiences and passion is just what we need to take us forward successfully and begin to play our part in bringing education to all.”

Adding support in her career move, acting Chairperson of the Nal’ibali Trust, Kay Lala-Sides, said: “We know that Yandiswa has a real passion for making high-quality education accessible to all South Africans. It is that passion that led her to Nal’ibali and it is the same passion that draws her to UCT’s Online High School. During her time with us, Yandiswa worked with our executive team and the board to help the Nal’ibali campaign adapt to our changing world, strengthen systems and processes, and introduced cost-effective innovations that helped us deliver value at scale. We wish her well as she takes these experiences with her into her new role and look forward to opportunities to collaborate in the future.”

The UCT Online High School ecosystem has been designed to service South African learners from a broad range of socioeconomic means. The UCT Online High School offers a CAPS-aligned curriculum, and enables learners in grades 8-11 in any corner of the globe with the opportunity to study at a monthly fee of R2 095 per month, making it one of the most affordable private schools in the country. Grade 12 will be offered from 2023.

Admissions for the UCT Online High School opened on 21 July 2021 and has been met with great interest ahead of school commencing in January 2022. Learners will benefit from the UCT Online High School’s supported self-discipline model, which allows learners to pace their own learning and get high quality 1:1 tutoring from expert teachers and support coaches whenever they need it. Learners will also be prepared with a unique range of university and career preparation services and offerings.

In addition, the curriculum will be made available from January 2022 for free in an interactive online platform called the Open UCT Free Curriculum. Users of the free content will be issued a learner number to save their unique learning path and data, with unlimited logins permitted. Learners have full access to a self-paced curriculum where they can progress at their own pace through expert designed notes, videos, animations, simulations, practice assignments, quizzes and more. The interactive content is intuitively organised, and easily searchable, making it an excellent resource for teachers and learners around the country to benefit from. In its first year, the free curriculum will be released in increments per grade.

For more information, live weekly webinars are hosted with UCT Online High School Head of Culture Kieno Kammies and prospective parents, as well as monthly information sessions for families who’ve confirmed that they’ll join our community in January, and for those wanting more details before applying. Reserve your place at the weekly webinar here: https://www.uctonlinehighschool.com/webinars

The Valenture Institute and UCT Online High School are currently hiring over 300 new staff members to help create the most impactful school in the country. Available positions can be accessed here for applications: https://apply.workable.com/valenture-institute-pty-ltd/?lng=en

For more information on the UCT Online High School, please visit www.uctonlinehighschool.com.


Meet the worlds Pet gear favourite brand from South Africa

BY Fast Company Contributor 5 MINUTE READ

Rogz, an internationally acclaimed brand that designs, manufactures, and distributes pet gear to 90 countries, took top place in the toys category

A South African entrepreneurial company has just been named “Brand of the Year” at the World Branding Awards 2021-2022 Animalis Edition. Over 115 000 consumers worldwide nominate their favourite brand and, Rogz, an internationally acclaimed brand that designs, manufactures, and distributes pet gear to 90 countries, took top place in the toys category.

The 26-year-old South African company employs 250 people and has recently brought the majority of its manufacturing back to SA. Co-founders Paul Fuller and Irené Raubenheimer say, “It’s an absolute pleasure to win this award. It means Rogz has been able to provide joy and relief to pets (and their owners) in the current difficult environment. For us, it has always been about remaining authentic and doing what we love.”

Danny Pek, Chief Executive, World Branding Forum, says a good brand needs to offer a meaningful experience to its customers, whilst remaining relevant and distinctive. “The world is full of brands, but a truly exceptional business has to ensure that people know what it stands for. The Animalis Edition of the Awards is very competitive.

“To be a winner at the Awards, a brand has shown that they have built themselves up to such a degree that they are placed amongst the best in the world.” Of the 1 100 brands nominated, just 28 are named “Brand of the Year” on a Global Tier.

The Rogz Story

A quarter of a century ago, two young entrepreneurs touched back down in South Africa after having spent a couple of years scrubbing decks in the Caribbean. Unenthused by the looming prospect of a slow and steady slog up the corporate ladder, Paul Fuller and Irené Raubenheimer decided to go into business for themselves. Fast forward 26 years and the idea that started in the spare bedroom of a Blouberg Apartment has grown into one of the world’s favourite pet brands.

“The whole journey started as an outflow of our days when we used to work on yachts and our sunglasses were our most prized possessions. They had those cords around the neck to keep them from falling off your head and we thought that this was a super cool business idea. So, we decided that we were going to come back home and sell them in Greenmarket square,” said Raubenheimer.

Going from working on yachts and having a ‘cool’ idea with your future brother-in-law to being a company with a footprint in more than 90 countries is rarely a straight line. In fact, when Fuller and Raubenheimer first got into business, the idea of producing the world’s coolest pet gear wasn’t even a pipe dream yet.

Back then the name Rogz didn’t even exist. What initially started out as Blue Bay Concepts, a name inspired by the view from their Blouberg apartment, quickly changed to Ratz Strapz, and with the name change came an expansion in the product line. The company began manufacturing a variety of products, including cords for river rafting gear. It was a trip to a trade fair, however, in Milan that changed everything for them.

“Things exploded when we went to Italy. At that stage we were still a tiny little company of about 15 people. We presented our product from our booth and got enquiries from a US company and a couple of others. Because of the volume they required, we had to grow our staff complement from 15 to 150 people within two weeks of the fair. The banks wouldn’t loan us money, so we had to beg, borrow and steal to keep up,” said Fuller.

From there the company started expanding, moving into watch straps. They realised the watch straps could be stretched into dog collars. And it was the dog collars that evolved into the Rogz that we know today.

“At the time, dog collars looked like something you would find at a hardware store. There wasn’t much variety in colours and the material was boring. Our thought was to make better quality products that looked good as well. People’s first responses were really positive,” explained Raubenheimer.

With the global pet industry valued at roughly $223 billion as of last year, they were onto a good thing. The success of the pet gear side of the business prompted a leap of faith by the partners. The company changed its name to Rogz and decided to focus exclusively on pet gear. This change of direction could not have come at a better time as the global pet industry had begun to shift toward treating pets as children rather than just fluffy house guests.

It was the perfect time for a company making trendy, high quality pet gear that emphasised animal wellness to enter the market. They piggybacked off their experience in international distribution and yet another successful trade fair, which saw them sign various deals with partners in 22 countries in three days. Since then, the company has grown steadily, doing business across the world, though South Africa remains their biggest market.

“We have always been very proudly South African and the support we have received here has been fantastic. That is why we were delighted when we were able to bring a lot of our manufacturing processes back home. We are uniquely positioned to be able to design, brand, produce and supply from here. There are not a lot of countries that can do all of those things,” said Fuller.

Covid-19 and the ‘pet boom’

As with almost everyone, the pandemic had a profound impact on the business, though not entirely how one would expect.

“The early period of Covid-19 was rough but before long we got permits to reopen, according to guidelines, and incrementally started to bring our staff back. It was challenging but also rewarding. It felt like 25 years ago. At first, we shifted our focus onto PPE but later on, we began to realise that the pet industry was having a sudden boom in demand and we were pushed hard to expand and grow to keep up. We survived the storm and now riding the crazy wave, ” said Raubenheimer

Profit has never been the sole motive driving how Rogz operates. The company also runs Rogz Academy. A non-profit organisation whose mission is to help people from underserved and disadvantaged communities overcome the challenges they face.

“Here at Rogz, we are a family. Among our staff is a grandmother, her daughter, and her granddaughter. People enjoy working at Rogz, and I think that is because of our relationship with our staff and the work we put into communities around us,” said Fuller.

“We felt it was imperative that we give back to the families and communities who have helped us become what we are,” added Raubenheimer.

In 2012, Rogz Academy began an English literacy programme in Dunoon, Cape Town and grew from there. It was so successful that the programme helped birth a slew of others focussed on a variety of issues including mentorship, teacher support and numeracy.

“We’re ragingly patriotic and love the people of this country, which is why we would love to start helping to mentor and assist other local entrepreneurs. There are a lot of opportunities here and we would love people to recognise what South Africa has to offer,” said Fuller.

People across the world are certainly recognising what Rogz has to offer as the World Branding Award attests. To win it, a brand must be recognised across three continents, in ten countries or more.

“We never got into this business with the intention of trying to chase awards, so it is a big award for a boy from Milnerton and a boy from Stellenbosch,” said Fuller.

And yes, both Fuller and Raubenheimer have Labradors. Who obviously get first pick of products.


The Business Case for Women to Lead in the Digital Economy

BY Fast Company Contributor 3 MINUTE READ

Female representation in senior management and executive roles in companies around the world remains low, however in South Africa it is stagnant. Worse still, women make up a mere 10% of CEOs at the world’s biggest tech firms, so one can only imagine how low the number is in South Africa.

This is according to Zimkhita Buwa, the newly appointed CEO of Quintica South Africa, the market leader in service experience management, enabling businesses across the Middle East and Africa to evolve digitally.

For almost 20 years, Buwa has been a trailblazer in the innovation and digital space, working her way up from SAP Business Intelligence Analyst at an African-based energy group, to Chief Operating Officer at a well-known software development house, and later becoming Head of Intelligent Business Applications Core Practice at a global systems integrator and managed services provider for hybrid IT. Since 2016, she has served on the board of Silicon Cape, a non-profit organisation that promotes technology entrepreneurship in the Western Cape. Her numerous accolades include winning the Techwomen Emerging Leader and MTN Outstanding Women in ICT awards, as well as being nominated for the Digital Female Awards in the category of Global Hero, representing women who follow diverse global goals and shape the world around them with their digital mindset. Now, she will be leading a local tech business focused on automation in a digital-first business world.

The new CEO believes that it is crucial for organisations, particularly tech companies, to have women in leadership roles both from a business perspective and to accelerate gender equality. “After all, it is 2021 and businesses need to move with the times if they want to succeed.” She notes that gender diversity in executive teams increases the likelihood of financial outperformance by 25% and that privately held tech companies headed by women achieve 35% higher returns on investment.

Quintica Chairperson, Allan Cawood says, “If you consider the transformation agenda in South Africa, whether it’s the economy, Black Economic Empowerment or bringing women into businesses, these are business imperatives today. I believe that any company that wants to not only succeed, but lead in the South African economy, needs to prioritise this.”

He adds that Quintica was founded on the ethos of ‘big things, great people. “Our transformation has evolved beyond a gender and race lens to recognise capability delivery, something which Zimkhita has proven over the course of her 17-year long career where she was entrenched in some of South Africa’s – and the world’s – foremost tech companies, not to mention her involvement in the African tech ecosystem in her personal capacity. With Quintica uniting technology and human capability to accelerate business outcomes, I see her appointment as the beginning of our next evolution. Her history with giants in the tech industry, coupled with her experience, have positioned her to step into a local business to provide the diversity in thinking needed to take Quintica forward.”

In her new role, Buwa hopes to empower emerging businesses, enable transformation, and get big business to support local businesses. “By focusing on those outcomes, living out our purpose, being obsessed with our clients, continuously exploring new technologies, as well as how we drive new services to clients, I think there’s an opportunity for Quintica to achieve significant results.”

She will also continue to empower other women and drive transformation not only within Quintica, but the ecosystem too. “Women empowerment is part of my DNA. It’s what I’ve lived and breathed throughout my career, so I’m not about to stop now. Quintica is a champion of diversity, and we will scale this through initiatives such as skills development via our internship programme, enterprise development, and supplier development. Essentially, it’s about continuing the work that I’ve been doing, before ‘women in tech’ became a buzzword.”

Quintica’ s annual internship programme has seen young women being given the opportunity to not only enter the industry but also receive the training they need to succeed, with the female participants typically outnumbering the males. Buwa shares that Quintica doesn’t just offer an internship programme, rather it crafts out a development path for each individual participant. “Currently, one of the company’s first female interns is now managing the entire service desk after being equipped with project management and client engagement skills, in addition to the IT skills she initially acquired. It is initiatives like this that I plan to strengthen within the organisation and expand into other areas of the business.”

In addition to her appointment as CEO, Buwa is a board member and shareholder participating in the equity of the business. She believes that making an impact lies not just in being a CEO, but in having a proper seat at the table by being a shareholder and board member.

Buwa concludes by saying, “I want young women entering the industry to know that it is possible to lead organisations and that the technology sector is evolving. With companies like Quintica being part of that evolution and entrusting their organisations into a woman’s hands, the game is changing.”

Zimkhita Buwa, CEO of Quintica South Africa


El Salvador becomes the first country to make Bitcoin a currency

BY Fast Company Contributor 3 MINUTE READ

On Sept. 7, 2021, El Salvador will become the first country to make bitcoin legal tender.

The government even went a step further in promoting the cryptocurrency’s use by giving $30 in free bitcoins to citizens who sign up for its national digital wallet, known as Chivo, or “cool” in English. Foreigners who invest three bitcoins in the country—currently about $140,000—will be granted residency.

Panama is considering following El Salvador’s lead.

Does making bitcoin legal tender mean every store and merchant in El Salvador will now have to accept digital payments? If more countries do the same thing, what will this mean for consumers and businesses around the world?

As an economist who studies wealth and money, I believe that briefly explaining what legal tender is will help answer these questions.


Legal tender refers to money—typically coins and banknotes—that must be accepted if offered in payment of a debt.

The front of every U.S. banknote states, “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private.” This statement has been enshrined in federal law in various forms since the late 1800s.

The greenback is not legal tender in just the U.S. El Salvador, for example, switched from the colon, its previous currency, to the U.S. dollar in 2001. Ecuador, Panama, East Timor, and the Federated States of Micronesia also all use the dollar as legal tender.


But despite the definition above, legal tender doesn’t mean all businesses must accept it in payment for a good or service.

That requirement applies only to debts owed to creditors. The ability for a store to refuse cash or other legal tender is made explicit on the websites of both the U.S. Treasury, which is in charge of printing paper money and minting coins, and the Federal Reserve, which is in charge of distributing currency to the nation’s banks.

This is why many companies, such as airlines, accept payments exclusively by credit card, and many small retailers take only cash.

As the U.S. Treasury points out, there is “no federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise.”

And this would be no different if the U.S. made bitcoin legal tender. Private businesses would not be required to accept it.

There is clearly some confusion in El Salvador over the issue, however. Its original bitcoin law, passed in June 2021, states that “every economic agent must accept bitcoin as payment when offered to him by whoever acquires a good or service.”

This led to protests and resulted in skepticism from economists and others. As a result, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele tweeted in August that businesses did not have to accept bitcoin.


El Salvador is betting that being the first to open its doors completely to bitcoin will help boost its economy.

President Bukele said he believes this will encourage investors with cryptocurrency to spend more of it in his country. He even has a plan to have El Salvador’s state-run geothermal utility use energy from the country’s volcanoes to mine bitcoin.

Creating, or mining, bitcoin takes a lot of energy, so mining makes sense only in places with cheap electricity.

The $30 given to every citizen who joins the cryptocurrency craze will temporarily stimulate the economy. However, the overall impact will likely be a short-term boost. The impact of similar payments in other countries, like COVID-19 stimulus payments, appears to end after people have spent the money. Moreover, it’s unclear El Salvador’s increasingly indebted government can even afford it.

And the widespread adoption of bitcoin will likely take years. El Salvador has been installing 200 bitcoin ATMs to allow people to convert cryptocurrency into dollars.

Since just 30% of the Central American country’s population even has a bank account, I believe the U.S. dollar will still be used in El Salvador for a long time, even if its president wants to move toward bitcoin.

Jay L. Zagorsky is a senior lecturer at the Questrom School of Business, Boston University. This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


Meet the woman behind SAFM news

BY Fast Company Contributor 2 MINUTE READ

You may recognize her dulcet tones as a news anchor on SAFM, and her face from SABC, but award-winning radio and television news anchor and journalist Nomsa Mdhluli is a successful business-woman and entrepreneur in her own right.

Nomsa’s career started as a Liaison Officer for the South African Police Service. She was a member of an elite police unit (which provided protection for national VIPs and foreign dignitaries) and was tasked with press liaison, program compilation and event coverage. High profile events she covered included the presidential inauguration of Thabo Mbeki in 2004 and The World Economic Forum of 2005. It was during this time that she realised that she thrived on communicating and interacting with others.

After a short stint as a Parliamentary Administrator for The National Union of Mine Workers/National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union in Cape Town she managed to break into radio in 2009 as a local News Presenter for Fine Music Radio. Shortly thereafter she managed to arrange informal training with Primedia (Cape Talk and EWN) where she gained invaluable additional insight into radio operations and news writing.

Nomsa started her media career in 2010, when she joined the Primedia Group (Cape Town) as a Radio News Anchor/Reporter/Producer for, at various stages, Cape Talk, KFM, Radio 702 and EWN. She transferred to Primedia’s Head Office in Johannesburg in 2014. She describes her time at Primedia as ‘one of opportunities’ where she substantially developed her presenting and production skills. The SABC heard Nomsa presenting the news on Radio 702. This led to her joining them in May 2015 as a News Anchor/Journalist. She presents national and international news and is constantly expanding on her presenting and reporting skills. Her performance was recognised in 2017, when she received Liberty Radio Awards’ prestigious Best PBS News Reader Award.

Nomsa’s compulsory internship in 2013 was spent at Cape Town based Public Relations firm where she was a member of a team that handled event co-ordination for The Cape Town International Jazz Festival and the launch of the Jonathan Butler Foundation. It was during this time that she gained hands-on press release, media relations, media coverage and event coordination experience. Her efforts were rewarded by her appointment as the Events PR director for the Cape Town International Jazz Festival from 2016 to 2018. She has since obtained her Honours degree in Media Studies and in June this year, was awarded a scholarship to pursue her Masters degree in Mass Media Studies with UK-based Liverpool John Moores University.

Three years ago, Nomsa started Tishala Communications to serve corporate clients who deserved to have their ground-breaking business ideas, innovations and successes brought to public and business attention. Currently she is very excited about promoting a number of key clients in the Technology Innovation, Artificial Intelligence and Healthcare sectors.

Tishala Communications’ list of achievements include a number of notable firsts for a young agency and clients have included the South African International Film Festival. Tishala has also also played an integral PR role in Africa’s first-ever Artificial Intelligence event, as well as being entrusted with the PR responsibilities around bringing the world’s largest gaming trade event to Africa.

The success of these accounts has seen Tishala becoming sought after among tech and event companies looking to convey their messaging to a larger audience.

Zuluish kettle brand gets support from Vusi Thembekwayo

BY Fast Company Contributor 3 MINUTE READ

The Zuluish kettle brand by Yandisa Zulu has ignited a social media debate about whitelabelling in South Africa.A white-label product is a product or service produced by one company (the producer) that other companies (the marketers) rebrand. White label products are sold by retailers with their own trademark but the products themselves are manufactured by a third party. Some South Africans did not take kindly to the Zuluish kettle brand as a result some tried to point out that the kettle can be found on Alibaba with a different brand. They insisted that the product is simply a product produced in China and rebranded to be on the market in South Africa. As for Yandisa Zulu this is what his brand is about:

“Zuluish is a combination of two words -uish is from a word WISH, a derivative of the word DREAM. It’s always been a dream of mine to get into the industry with a long term vision and dream to be able to have full production in South Africa. A mere dream of a Zulu child from Africa in South Africa”

A South African entrepreneur and investor, Vusi Thembekwayo, weighed in on the matter, see his view and opinion on the matter below (edited for ease of reading):

As we speak you are buying a car called Tata or Peugeot without complaint. And you buy it unaware & not concerned with where the component parts are manufactured.

As we speak you are buying appliances made under 3rd party contract manufacturer (agreements some retailers have with manufacturers in China or Vietnam to produce their private label) from retailers across South Africa without complaint.

As we speak you are using a phone to read this message. That phone was probably made in China but branded under a US, African or EU name.

To think that a start-up entrepreneur who probably has no long-term funding or equity capital, in the southernmost tip of Africa can single handedly reverse globalisation & manufacture his own appliances here without being out-priced in the marketplace is peak of hypocrisy.

Those criticising this young man are the same ones complaining about MaXhosa or Rich Mnisi prices. Clearly not concerned with marginal cost and economies of scale as a driver of prices.

They are the same ones attacking Bathu by implying that Theo doesn’t own that business. They are the same ones attacking Drip for its latest range.

Start a business they say.

But what they really mean is start something small, keep it small & charge the cheapest prices. When a young entrepreneur launched his own brand in electronics & the woke-social-media-soldiers whose only preoccupation is destroying the dreams of others are busy with exactly that, critiquing & destroying.

They clothe their jealousy & superficial understanding of complex issues with salad dressing of being woke. Like they do with everything they don’t understand, they simply label this man a “scam”.

We must be one of a few countries in the world where people label something they don’t understand “a scam”. Instead of being curious and learning, this league of judges scolds, ridicules and character assassinates innovators hiding their malevolence under the cloak of revolutionary thinking.

And when the thing they labelled scam succeeds, then are the first to shout “give back!”.

This mindset is sick. It’s dangerous. It’s a jealousy fueled range posing as wokeness. It’s the peak of hypocrisy. I am buying my Zuluish kettle and shipping it to my new home.

To every critic: you are the problem. You lack understanding & are too busy lining to attack to ask for clarification. Japan imitated the US until it built it’s own manufacturing capacity to be competitive. China copied Japan & the US until it developed its own manufacturing prowess.

Vietnam has been copying China for the past decade & is now a global powerhouse in manufacturing. This is how globalisation works. Imitate what works until you can compete.

Entrepreneurs don’t fix global supply chain. They have to leverage them to build their businesses. Some will read this and comment “yoh. This English is too what what”.

Forget the English. Argue me on the reasoning.

Yandisa Zulu. Bless you mjita.

About the author

Vusi Thembekwayo is an entrepreneur and investor. He is the founder of MyGrowthFund.


GAP acquires tech startup to enable virtual fitting of clothing

BY Fast Company Contributor 2 MINUTE READ

Online shopping is one of the best conveniences that the digital age has brought about. No more running to the crowded store or fighting for a parking space. Just click and you’re done. At least that’s how it is for most products you buy online. Buying clothing online is different—and for many, it’s more inconvenient than going clothes shopping in a store.

Why? Because the clothing we buy online often doesn’t fit as well, or it doesn’t look as good as we expected based on its online images. This leads to customer dissatisfaction and returned items, which can be pricey for any company.

Gap Inc. is hoping to address this painful point with its acquisition of Drapr, a 3D avatar and e-commerce startup. Drapr was part of the Y Combinator class of summer 2020, and its technology allows customers to quickly create accurate 3D avatars of themselves, which they can dress in the clothes they’re interested in buying. This allows customers to judge how the clothing could look and fit on their own body before ever clicking the “buy” button.

Announcing the acquisition, Sally Gilligan, chief growth transformation officer at Gap, said, “Fit is the number one point of friction for customers and, through their advanced 3D technology, Drapr has shown it can help shoppers efficiently find the size and fit they need. We plan to leverage Drapr to help Gap Inc. improve the fit experience for our customers and accelerate our ongoing digital transformation.”

Gap’s acquisition of Drapr is notable for another reason beyond the cool tech aspects of a virtual fitting room. Drapr is the first acquisition the company has announced through its Strategic Growth Office. The SGO aims to seek out modestly priced investments in startups that could help transform Gap and its associated brands, which include Old Navy and Banana Republic.


Tech enabled learning is transforming education

BY Fast Company Contributor 4 MINUTE READ

Last year, the enabling powers of technology provided a glimpse into our societal evolution and showed the possibilities as to what the future of work, education and society at large could be.

With all the changes that were brought about in the face of the global pandemic, the focus has now shifted from immediate remote accessibility between organisations to the health of their operations for long term success and the role of technology in enabling growth. This is all well and good in nations where access to technology is extensive, but how will this pan out in South Africa?

If harnessed effectively, technology will continue to lead efforts to support recovery, playing a pivotal role in enabling society to “build back better” for the long-term, ensuring that the systems we put in place solve the problems of today and ensure society is well equipped to deal with the challenges of tomorrow.

Universities are not exempt when it comes to the need to embrace technology and to ramp up compute power. Whilst educating and enabling our future workforce, universities need to keep abreast of technological change and manage the vast amounts of data being generated from remote learning while being able to invest in and harness the power of emerging technologies.

Situational analysis – South African universities

Accommodating more than 1 million students, South Africa has 25 private universities and over 20 public universities distributed across its nine provinces. Furthermore, the government plans to increase university enrolment to 1.5 million by 2030.

As student numbers increase, universities will not only need to take a hybrid learning stance but will also need to ensure that students from all communities have reliable access to digital connectivity.

In fact, according to a recent study conducted by IDC and commissioned by Dell Technologies, universities need to ramp up their compute power in order to accommodate the increase in online learning, as they move toward hybrid learning structures across the country. The study also states that technology can play a pivotal role in education content generation and utilisation. Furthermore, the report cites that at the onset of the pandemic, educational institutions had to quickly provide students and teachers with hardware (laptops and tablets) for learning purposes. Connectivity and secure access to learning content were also critical to ensure continuous learning.

Hybrid learning has emerged as the new way of learning and this situation is expected to persist throughout 2021.

Digital inequity is a reality in South Africa

In developing nations, 47% of people are connected, compared to 87% of people in developed nations. South Africa – a region where the lines between the developed and developing worlds are often blurred, as modern metropolies stand side by side with rural villages – 56.3% of the population has access to the Internet according to StatsSa. This share is projected to grow to 62.3% in 2025.

Across the world, including throughout South Africa, one of the leading barriers of access to the internet includes both the cost of devices and poor connectivity. According to the World Economic Forum, the digital divide is widened between higher and lower demographic groups by the fact that data in South Africa is one of most expensive globally.

AI could level the playing field

One of the trends identified in the study involves IT departments in universities supporting emerging technology for research and process automation. While research is typically a preserve of academic departments, IT departments play a critical role in ensuring that research is conducted seamlessly. In addition, while the uptake of AI in South Africa is generally rising, universities are yet to fully harness the benefits of the technology.

However not enough use cases exist at the university level where AI is used to enhance the admission process by enabling universities to forecast demand and achieve their target enrolment numbers. The use of AI to deliver classes is yet to gain traction at the university level, although this will be a future area of focus.

In a paper written by the Policy Action Network (PAN) titled “AI and data in education”, there are high hopes around the implementation of AI in the South African education sector as a means to narrow the digital divide and mitigate resource challenges facing educational institutions “while enabling better decision making in administrative and management processes”. The paper goes on to say that there is still significant interest in how AI and Machine Learning can support adaptive learning and personalised learning systems. This goes over and above its administrative use.

Although spending cuts, declining fees, and falling hostel revenues are putting pressure on budgets, educational institutions are nonetheless fast tracking their digital transformation initiatives. Universities, like most organisations are undergoing a process of rapid digitisation and whilst there are barriers that need to be considered, CIO’s will have to adapt and be empowered by tapping into emerging technologies, such as AI to enable their organisations to transition into the digital world, by increasing compute power. This will facilitate online learning, personalisation of learning and the ability to store the vast amounts of data that online learning generates. Modernising universities, making education more accessible and best preparing young graduates to enter into the workplace.

Universities were significantly impacted and disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Like organisations in other industries, universities have needed to digitally transform in order to continue to educate students. However, digital transformation now reaches further than just enabling universities to connect with students and continue lecturing. It has propelled universities and tertiary institutions into the Fourth Industrial Revolution, along with the rest of the world. This requires technology driven solutions and mediums to deliver lectures, store vast volumes of data, provide personalisation to students via emerging technologies, such as AI. Staff and students will also need to be able to access online academic content and therefore universities need to provide connectivity and devices like laptops and tablets to students and university staff. The objective of universities embracing digital transformation is to ensure that learning and enrolment continue unabated. This puts the onus on CIOs to reprioritise spending in response to shifts in the market, motivate for grants where necessary and ensure that universities are well positioned to respond to change through the enabling power of technology.

Doug Woolley Managing Director Dell Technologies South Africa


How to move from Developer to Startup Founder

BY Fast Company Contributor 4 MINUTE READ

I always knew I wanted to start my own company someday, and many developers have the same aspiration. Developers tend to have countless product ideas that turn into side projects, and some of those projects can turn into the real deal..

But transitioning from developer to founder is likely the hardest thing you’ll ever do—and it isn’t the right move for everyone. I’m a believer in offering more senior technical opportunities for developers, because stellar technologists shouldn’t be thoughtlessly promoted into management roles that don’t make sense for them. One of the first projects I worked on as the head of engineering at Salesforce was creating and elevating the technical track within engineering alongside the management track to convey the value and equal importance of the technical individual contributor route.

That said, the journey to founder can be rewarding—and if you decide the entrepreneurial path is for you, look to others who have done it and learn from their successes and setbacks. Here are some of my top lessons.


Spending more time in a technical role can give you a unique perspective as a CEO. Earlier in my career at PeopleSoft, I wanted to move into a management position much sooner than I did. My manager at the time, Peter Gassner (also a dev to co-founder and CEO of Veeva), persuaded me to spend more time as an engineer in the trenches. I wasn’t initially happy with that decision, but it ended up being a blessing—the identity projects I worked on at PeopleSoft informed my vision for Okta and gave me the time I needed to hone my engineering skill set.

Technical experience will also set you up to create and execute the right R&D culture and rhythm. Innovation and investment is nonlinear—and as a founder, you’ll need to convince your board and non-technical teammates of that. 2x the cost isn’t 2x the engineering output; doing it right can give you 10x the output and doing it wrong can be detrimental. You don’t want to save half the cost if that risks decreasing the chance of a 10x innovation.

Developers also understand that money isn’t a replacement for time. You can throw all the money in the world at a problem, but it won’t slow down the clock. Building a great product requires the right resources and patience.


In the show Silicon Valley, a group of engineers create a platform called Pied Piper. It’s portrayed as revolutionary, winning first prize at TechCrunch Disrupt and receiving rave reviews from fellow developers. But the early product ended up being a bust—the interface was far too complex for the average user.

This is all too relatable for many engineers. When you’re living and breathing code, it can be hard to remember that most people don’t have the same technical expertise. You have to build for a broader audience, and this even applies to developer-focused companies. Developers aren’t always the ones writing the checks at the end of the day, so you have to be able to sell to the executive team, which requires a simplistic experience and a clear ROI.

One way to ensure you’re building for the right audience is to seek out partners and a founding team with different experiences than you. My cofounder Frederic Kerrest has a strong go-to-market background—he’s an expert salesman and has a gift for understanding exactly what our customers need. This helped balance out my technical perspective.


I can remember thinking when I was an engineer, “why would anyone need a calendar?” It was easy to keep track of the one or two meetings I had per day. Needless to say, I had to get accustomed to relying on a calendar when I moved into management and juggled meeting after meeting along with other new responsibilities. Another change: you have the final say on higher-stakes decisions in the CEO role, so your decision-making process slows down as you spend more time considering the downstream effects of your choices.

It’s hard to let go of a familiar day-to-day, but it’s even harder to know what you should still hold close and when you should just let your team manage. I let go of code reviews and coordinating projects, but I’ve always maintained a deep understanding of product capabilities. A CEO should know what functionality and customer experience will look like and why setbacks happen. You can do this by maintaining relationships with people in lower-level management, and having a technical background as a CEO actually helps make those relationships stronger. Because you come in with a baseline understanding of that team’s work, you can better communicate with them, address challenges, and create realistic goals.


When making the jump to a new role, especially to founding a company, you won’t get everything right on the first go. Marketing, sales, HR, finance, and other functions will all be brand new to you, and it’s impossible to know everything you need to know right away. Understand that you’ll probably fail at first, so get comfortable shifting out of what you know into unknown territory.

The founder ride is also invigorating and exciting—which is what keeps most entrepreneurs coming back for more. If you can take pride in the intellectual challenge of moving into the CEO role, you’ll have a much better shot at surviving the inevitable setbacks along the way.


Todd McKinnon is the CEO and co-founder of Okta, the first cloud-based identity management platform. Founded in 2009, Okta helps companies of all sizes secure their users, applications and data — both in the cloud and behind the firewall — so work gets done, from any device, anywhere