This week we profile Marang Marekimane. After working in corporate for 11 years, Marang realised that she needed to do something bigger with her knowledge and experience that she acquired .
In response to her concerns about the high unemployment rate (Current unemployment rate is 26%, of which 53% is the youth) and the high failure rate of businesses in South Africa.
As Business In Theory, she assists entrepreneurs to improve the sustainability of their businesses. The more sustainable the businesses the more jobs are created and reducing unemployment. Marang stats that starting sustainable businesses and creating jobs will empower people to build their own houses, buy their own food and educate themselves. We sat down with her to get the low down.
The Guide: What are your views on entrepreneurship in Africa?
Africans have always been resourceful problem solvers – colonialism derailed us, and the damage spans through several generations. We are in an era of Africans taking ownership of their problems and seeking solutions, which is what is fuelling the rise in entrepreneurial activity on the continent. We need an increase in both financial and non-financial support for entrepreneurs. Next step is for our education to focus on teaching how to create instead of “how to consume”.
The Guide: Abiola Oke says the hardest place to make it in world as entrepreneurs is Africa, what three qualities should have to survive the harsh business conditions of Africa.
- Persistence – Africans are not the easiest to convince, particularly with something new;
- Resilience – For the uphill battles;
- Conviction – knowing and understanding your purpose. This will guide your strategies to achieving your goals.
The Guide: In all the countries you have travelled which one stood out for you in the entrepreneurial sphere?
China presented an interesting perspective. Their challenge is not customers; their challenge is innovation and diversity. It is difficult to offer unique selling propositions in a country with more than a billion people. It’s a very competitive environment, and people work hard to achieve their own success, they know there are no handouts.
The Guide: As Picaso once said a great artist steals, which country do you think young South African entrepreneurs should steal or ridicule business trades secret from and why?
We should “steal” ideas from countries like India and Brazil – to solve problems like housing and services like water and sanitation for the poor. While we focus on developing the country to meet first-world standards, we should not forget to create solutions for the poor so we can close the poverty gap. For too long we have been developing solutions for the wealthy because that is where we saw the money, we need to develop solutions to empower the poor.
The Guide: The world has noticed a pattern of woman venturing in business, what is a common challenge faced by women in the business world?
There is still the notion that this is a man’s world and women are over-stepping the boundaries in corporate or as entrepreneurs. Women are human first. For decades, women have made means to take care of their communities; we have the means to create businesses in response to the needs of our society. The challenge is, for decades we have been sidelined and made to believe it’s not our business. More women need to believe it is “our business” to create businesses.
The Guide: We all have that one person we look up too, which businesswoman has inspired you in business?
Several businesswomen, each for different reasons, inspire me. Women like Wendy Luhabe inspire me as a South African woman to carve a path. Iyanla Vanzant inspires my conviction as I go through the challenges – in spite what happens, I have the opportunity to turn it around to favour me.
The Guide: Looking back on your business journey till now, what was your biggest lesson that you think is universal?
I’m curious by nature. The lessons are endless – partly because I’m an advocate for constantly learning something new.
The power of limiting beliefs is one of the lessons that stands out the most. We pay too much attention to the voices that tell us we can’t. We ought to say “I can” more often or at the very least, we should say “let me try”.
The Guide: It’s common that every entrepreneur is bound to be a book collector, what is your top3?
These books are not specific to being an entrepreneur; though they speak to crafting traits that an entrepreneur should have.
- Things fall apart by Chinua Achebe – it puts into perspective the impact of colonialism on Africa, and the struggle to regain a balance that incorporates African traditions with what remains post-colonialism.
- The power of a Praying Woman by Stormie Omartian – It put things into perspective in terms of the role of a woman in the community, and it helped to guide my spirituality
- Own Your Space by Lori Milner and Nadia Bilchik – I have just read this. A brilliant toolkit dispels the limiting beliefs that society has imposed on women in business.
The Guide: One book that has inspired you and you keep on going to in need of inspiration or motivation?
Books tend to “find me” in response to my challenge. It is difficult to demotivate me because I am solutions oriented. For me, books put things into perspective, people inspire me – I don’t have one book to inspire me.
The Guide: Before we close shop can you tell us about your forthcoming event in August.
The Success Through Compliance seminar is in response to the daunting challenges that entrepreneurs battle with, namely – compliance, access to finance and access to markets.
There are initiatives to facilitate new business development, job creation and stimulating the economy. Entrepreneurs cannot benefit from these initiatives unless their businesses are compliant.
For the seminar, I have collaborated with specialists to inform entrepreneurs about BEE, the Companies Act including taxes and accounting principles, Occupational Health and Safety, Contracts and Agreements, Labour Law, the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) and Cyber Crime – These are generic for every business. These affect access to finance and access to markets.
We also want to encourage a culture of compliance and participation in forums that facilitate the ease of doing business in South Africa. This will, in turn, improve the perception of South African products and services, which will attract trades and investments.
The Guide: Which mantra does Marang live by?
There are in fact 2 – “Be the change you want to see in the world” – that’s from Gandhi. The second one – “If it is meant to be, it starts with me”. Simple reminders, that I am responsible for the outcome.
The Guide: Any valuable piece of advice every young entrepreneur should convert to business principle?
Be aware of what is going on around you and create for solutions. Instead of studying to look for jobs, study to create businesses.