The State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa

The State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa

Entrepreneurs are always going to face challenges. That much is a given. But what about entrepreneurship itself? Are we, the stakeholders who are trying to create fertile ground for individuals who choose this route, destinated to have a similar struggle?

The answer to this question is critical, because it reveals much about the state of entrepreneurship in South Africa. And, at present, it’s an answer that gives cause for concern.

Never in South Africa has there been such a crying need for entrepreneurs who not only succeed, but who have the ability to positively impact and transform their community. However, at the same time, it’s clear that these people are not receiving the support that would allow this to become a reality.

This was highlighted during the State of the Nation Address given by President Cyril Ramaphosa during February. Although Mr Ramaphosa admittedly had a number of challenges that required urgent attention, the omission of entrepreneurship as a national priority was a glaring one. Unfortunately, this concept remains a “by the way” – and, as long as this is the case, our entrepreneurs will continue to struggle.

This is evidenced by the rate of growth in South Africa. Quite simply, the outcomes of entrepreneurship do not keep pace with the inputs.

Compare our playing field with that of other African countries, for example. By all accounts, we are to be envied: it appears as though our efforts and successes in the area of entrepreneurship exceed that of our peers in many instances. However – and this is the crux – our entrepreneurs seem doomed to fail. Yes, we record an impressive number of start-ups, but few of these translate into sustainable jobs. In fact, only 15% of our start-ups go the distance.

This means that entrepreneurship in South Africa is failing in one of the key areas where it is intended (and where it is sorely needed) to have the most impact: job creation.

One of the reasons for this failure is the lack of alignment between skills and ideas. Our entrepreneurs may have outstanding insights that allow them to identify niches with potential to become lucrative businesses, but they don’t have the skills to take the business from point A to Point Z.

At first glance, it may appear that the existence of such a gap is absurd, given the significant array of resources that have been established precisely to provide entrepreneurial support in South Africa. However, the resulting ecosystem is fragmented: yes, there is a wealth of information and infrastructure out there, but none of it addresses the entire spectrum of entrepreneurial support, from end to end.

Moreover, many entrepreneurs aren’t aware of where they are in their journey. Which source do they consult, if they don’t know where they are in their entrepreneurial career trajectory, and what this means in terms of their support requirements and potential company growth? These are not questions that can be answered with a quick reference to company profitability, business valuation and market size, because the entrepreneur’s experience is typically a dynamic one characterised by change, adaptation and iteration – all of which create complications when it comes to accurately predicting company growth. In an ideal world, an individual with entrepreneurial potential would have clear guidelines regarding the support sources available, and which would be the most appropriate and best placed to provide advice and skills based on their current and future developmental phases. But this is certainly not the case at present.

Government’s current focus on FET-related skills poses is a further obstacle. While this is, indeed, a progression from the notion that a professional career is the only (or, at least, the best) option for every individual, regardless of their aptitude, progress in putting in place a future-ready curricula that boosts critical thinking, creativity and emotional intelligence in addition to fast-tracking the attainment of digital and STEM skills that will enable the workforce of the future to participate in the digital economy – has been stagnant. After all, the digital economy is where the greatest opportunities for today’s entrepreneurs reside, and it is therefore crucial to ensure that they have the requisite skills to take advantage. Our present model does not allow for this, however.

Currently, we don’t have a clear picture of knowledge and skills acquisition as they relate to employment, and how these can be best harnessed to drive rapid innovation and optimise industrial growth. Consequently, the majority of skills development initiatives in place in South Africa are geared towards bolstering existing, established industries and trades – but, since a future shaped by Artificial Intelligence holds very little certainty for any industry, we have to acknowledge the need to take risks on unknown quantities. One way of doing this, is seeking out industries that have the potential to enable, derail or disrupt existing sectors. Difficult though this is – it is, after all, almost impossible to imagine a world that currently exists only in terms of “what ifs” – tools like systems-thinking and design thinking may help us identify the gaps and opportunities offering the greatest potential for entrepreneurial action.

Education is failing our entrepreneurs in other areas, too. We cannot ignore the coming impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on our world; nor can we close our eyes to the fact that the industries which will prove most productive in the years to come probably don’t exist at present.

The skills required to gain mastery over these industries are, naturally, very different from those which served previous generations. But, then again, the people who will work in these industries have shown themselves to be very different, too. Just as workplaces were initially challenged to accommodate the personalities and tendencies of millennials – the pioneers of the ‘slashie’ or gigging generation, for whom it is commonplace to invest time and energy in a number of different jobs rather than pledging loyalty to an organisation – it’s likely that further adjustments will need to be made if we are to optimally harness the strengths of Generation Z.

On the one hand, and working in our favour, is the intrinsic entrepreneurial flair that seems to come naturally to many of this generation. However, they are also hampered by short attention spans. They are, moreover, more global in their thinking, and more individualistic, than any generation before them.

If we are to help them on their path to successful entrepreneurship, we need to take these differences into account and, perhaps most importantly, end our view of entrepreneurs as one-dimensional people.

At a more pragmatic level, entrepreneurial training in the future will need to go beyond focusing on the basic skills that are essential for starting a business. We will also need to tap into the values and motivations of individual entrepreneurs, while helping them leverage their social networks; perhaps one of the most important tools they’ll have at their disposal.

In other words, we need to steer clear of a blanket approach to teaching, and strive instead for methods that resonate on a more individual level. More than anything, we need to get young entrepreneurs thinking: not about the ventures that are most likely to succeed in financial terms, but which are most likely to solve the challenges currently facing our communities and societies.

The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation’s Fellowship programme has been carefully designed to address as many of these challenges as possible. Our chief differentiator, distinguishing us from other initiatives aiming to support entrepreneurs, regards the individuals selected to take part. Rather than honing in on people who have already established startups and require resources to ensure sustainability or take them to the next developmental phase, we target individuals who have displayed entrepreneurial flair, or who have the propensity to become an entrepreneur. We consider the metamorphosis – from potential entrepreneur to actual entrepreneur and, ultimately, entrepreneurial career – to be one of our greatest successes, because it means that people who otherwise would have followed traditional career paths (and thereby entrenched the current status quo) are instead given a chance to realise their full entrepreneurial potential.

That said, the Fellowship programme is neither prescriptive nor restrictive. It recognises that the most fulfilling careers are based on an “either and” rather than an “either or” mindset, and that career paths evolve over time. We accept that for some, entrepreneurship is a goal in itself; for others, it is a milestone that is part of a greater journey. We encourage participants to adopt a similar understanding of their careers, and the open-mindedness which develops as a result is a powerful motivator when it comes to taking risks and engaging with the process of starting a business. This milieu has allowed some Fellows to acquire the work experience required to establish their own start-ups, while others use their learnings from this environment to create a clearer idea of what kind of business they would ultimately like to create.

One of the instruments we have employed to nurture this mindset is the Dual Track Programme, introduced in 2018. Cognisant of the struggle for the many entrepreneurs who do not want to concentrate solely on academics or the theoretical side of entrepreneurial training, this initiative provides support for those who have already launched their own businesses, allowing them to take a sabbatical from their studies for a year to extend their degrees. The remarkable take-up of this programme pays credence to our belief that although entrepreneurship may well be an inherent skill, it can also be developed, provided the individual receives appropriate inputs, including opportunities for collaboration, personal mastery, networking and lifelong learning.

We have set up a variety of other tools to fashion a safe environment where they may flex their entrepreneurial muscles without fear of failure. These include the Ideation, Validation and Creation programme, our Accelerator programme and our annual jamboree, all of which are platforms for developing essential entrepreneurial skills and networking.

We have, furthermore, consolidated our learnings over the past 14 years, tweaking our curriculum to ensure a greater chance of success for our programme participants. Of most significance here is the abundance of information regarding entrepreneurship that has become available since the Foundation was first established in 2005. From being a relatively unknown quantity, entrepreneurship has become far better documented. Consequently, we have more accurate insights regarding the characteristics of successful entrepreneurs, and how best to leverage these.

As a result, our programme has become considerably more structured. We have also adjusted the criteria of our Selection Camps to accommodate potential high impact entrepreneurs whose previously limited exposure may disadvantage them. In this, we have worked towards greater objectivity and consistency. With this in mind, we have, moreover, reviewed our successful profiles and application forms.

While these triumphs speak to the efficacy of our programme, we regard them not as our own successes, but as successes for the field at large – and, hopefully, we will see them create a springboard to boost entrepreneurship in future years.

Download infographic here

Greater rigour, greater impact

Greater rigour, greater impact

The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation is looking forward to a new era, integrating assessment processes and development processes for greater impact and enhancing the predictive value of tools.

When the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation was founded in 2005, it was with an eye to nurturing a culture of entrepreneurialism that would not only result in job creation; but which would also ultimately benefit the entrepreneurs’ communities. There is no doubt that it has been successful in these aims: now operating in four countries (South Africa, Swaziland, Botswana and Namibia), the Foundation has received more than 33°000 scholarship applications, and funded over 3°500 years of education. Consequently, the Foundation has provided funding to more than 157 scholars to attend school at reputable high schools and has seen Fellows go on to establish businesses valued at over R1.5 billion, which have created 679 jobs.

However, in spite of this success, the Foundation identified a need to review its selection processes, ensure the validity and reliability of its tools, and entrench greater objectivity during the recruitment process, so that it could improve its results further still.

Download report here

Download infographic here

Fake News Statement

Fake News Statement

The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation has noted with great concern an article headlined: Allan Gray lends a hand to South African families with revolutionary Bitcoin Home Based Opportunity, published on a replicated version of online news platform Fin24 recently.

The article alleges that the founder of Allan Gray Investment, Mr Allan Gray “launched a revolutionary new business opportunity via his non-profit Allan Gray Orbis Foundation”. The article claims that Mr Gray invested R12 million into developing software that will enable South Africans to trade in cryptocurrencies.

The Allan Gray Orbis Foundation would like to categorically state that the information presented in this article is false and can confirm that the Fin24 site – a business and finance platform that falls under the Media24 Group has been falsely recreated.

We condemn the spreading of fabricated news in the strongest terms and commit to continue protecting the integrity of our brand locally and internationally against these digital offenders.

 

 

 

 

It all starts with a story | By: Nicole Dunn

It all starts with a story | By: Nicole Dunn

As part of our Allan Gray Orbis Legacy Project, the Year Experience Candidate Fellows partnered with Nal’ibali (isiXhosa for “here’s the story”) to promote multilingual literacy and a love for reading. As a year group, we value the power of education and cultural relevance in literary development. When looking for a partner to collaborate with, Nal’ibali was the perfect fit. The national organisation aims to foster reading-for-enjoyment among South Africa’s children by training adults to be reading role models and activists; raising awareness about the importance of reading for enjoyment; and producing, translating and distributing books and stories in all South African languages.

Our fundraising campaign ran over a number of months, and donors were given the opportunity to write a personalised inscription to the reader they were supporting. With the help and generosity of our network, we raised enough money to donate a mobile library and box of stationery to Chumisa Primary School in Khayelitsha.

At the hand-over event, we celebrated the efforts of Ms Gcotyelwa Gcogco Mwahleni, an isiXhosa and Creative Arts teacher, who founded a reading club at Chumisa. Sis’ Gcogco, as she is affectionately known, is a role model to the 30 students who attend her reading club each week. She encourages her learners to create plays from the stories she reads, helping to build their confidence and relate the concepts to their own lives. Through her efforts, the students have come to develop a love for reading, participating in community literacy programmes and spelling bee competitions.

Educators like Sis’ Gcocgo are heroes not only to their students, but to the country as a whole. They play a critical role in nurturing young potential and instilling self-belief in children who do not always come from supportive circumstances. We are honoured to recognise and celebrate her commitment to education, and to contribute the resources she needs to grow her reading club initiative.

As a year group, we believe that a legacy is not something that is left for people, but left in people. Through this campaign, we sought to leave a legacy in South Africa’s future readers and leaders, who we hope will grow to share their own stories of success. These narratives have the power to empower and transform communities, by inspiring children to believe in themselves, and that their dreams are possible.

After all, it all starts with a story.

 

Nal’ibali currently has 2 179 reading clubs active in all 9 provinces that reach 64 609 children. To date, it has trained 14 689 people to be reading champions for children/to support children’s literacy development. To find out more about the exceptional work that the organisation does, visit their website (www.nalibali.org) or Facebook page (@nalibaliSA).

The appointment of our new CEO

The appointment of our new CEO

It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointment of our new CEO, Yogavelli Nambiar.

Yogavelli succeeds Anthony Farr, who tendered his resignation earlier this year after 12 years at the helm of the Foundation. He will be moving on to take up responsibilities for Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropies (Africa), a philanthropic arm of the Allan & Gill Gray Foundation.

At the time of his resignation, Anthony said: “The greatest adventure of my life was being part of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. But as with any adventure there comes a time to step aside.” Yogavelli inherits a well-established Foundation, equipped to embrace a range of new challenges associated with the modern world and to further grow the organisation.

“We are pleased to welcome Yogavelli to her new role as CEO of the Foundation. She has so many insights to offer and we look forward to drawing on her long line of experience developing entrepreneurs across the African continent,” says board chairman, Professor Njabulo Ndebele.

Professor Ndebele again thanked Anthony, who he says delivered well on the Foundation’s inception mandate to invest, inspire and develop individuals who will go on to become high impact, responsible entrepreneurs capable of transforming the future of the Southern African Region.

As the new CEO, Yogavelli joins the Foundation with extensive experience, having previously founded and headed up the Enterprise Development Academy at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), business school of the University of Pretoria as its Director, where she led the entrepreneurship efforts of the school within the centre. Prior to that she was Country Director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative and led the design and delivery of this successful international women’s entrepreneurship programme in South Africa.

“I am excited to be part of the brainchild of Allan Gray and to work alongside a long line of capable individuals who work tirelessly to help make a sustainable, long-term and positive contribution to Southern Africa. Thank you to the board for entrusting me in my capacity as the Foundation’s new CEO,” Yogavelli says.

Professor Ndebele concludes: “Yogavelli’s experience and expertise will ensure future opportunities are harnessed while building on the institutional capabilities of the Foundation in the process.”

You Can’t Win the Raffle If You Don’t Buy a Ticket

You Can’t Win the Raffle If You Don’t Buy a Ticket

The 2017 Allan-Gray Orbis Foundation Jamboree event is an incredible opportunity to expose your idea to a world of possibility. Your idea is interrogated, torn-up and built-up by a room filled with bright students. This has opened up many doors for us including meeting the executives of Zoona, Silicon Cape and a large part of the tech-ecosystem in and around Cape Town.

We are currently building our MVP and are incubated with the Telkom Innotech Programme at the Bandwidth Barn.

This is our story;

“The Jamboree experience began before we had even arrived at Jamboree. My partner (Sinqobile Mashalaba) and I were on the late transport set to arrive the Friday evening. We had discussed the prospect of pitching our idea that weekend but given how little thought and effort we had given it, the consensus was that we would be underprepared and, hence, very easily overlooked. Boy, how wrong were we!

Don’t get me wrong, our business idea had undergone about 8 weeks of intense incubation and we were in the process of concluding our first transaction. So we had some traction behind us but, coming straight out of exams, we did not have a pitch-deck ready nor did we have any notion of our pitch structure or how we would respond to some tough questions. Nonetheless, we made a bold decision to put ourselves out there for the community to see. Though we lacked much, what we did have was a strong sense of purpose and validation.Simon Sinek put it best in a Ted Talk when he spoke about how people care much, much more about WHY you are doing something than WHAT it is you are actually doing. Before you can sell product, you must sell purpose. So, with that motivation, my partner and I decided to put Hlanganisa down as a Wildcard. Then, it all began…

We did not much sleep that weekend- which was difficult considering we had just come off an intense exam period. We persevered because there was strong sense of conviction to present Hlanganisa in the best way possible. In all honesty, it had very little to do with winning. It had almost everything to do with growing because as an early stage start up, your idea and the work that you have put into it is all you have. And if you are going to present it on a platform such as Jamboree, you got to give it all you got. Anything less is a disservice to your business idea and to the time and energy you have put into it.

The Open Canvas happened on Saturday and the responses we were receiving were unbelievable. On the one hand, we were receiving validation that what we are doing is necessary and makes sense (which is always so good to hear!) while on the other, we were receiving advice and tips on how we could do it better. Having made it into the top 10, excitement and nerves were high- but so was physical fatigue. We do not think we will ever be able to explain how we were able to get up on that stage and pitch, given the state we were in, but we did and it was WELL WORTH IT!.

Winning Jamboree is something We will always be proud of. We encourage every Candidate Fellow to open themselves up to at least one Jamboree experience. As the old saying goes: ”You can’t win the raffle if you don’t buy a ticket.”

– Hlanganisa Team

 

 

Scholarship Development Camp: Grade 10 & 11

Scholarship Development Camp: Grade 10 & 11

The picturesque town of Franschhoek was the setting for the grade 10 and 11 Allan Gray Orbis Foundation National Development Camp. This town is rooted in history and is a stone’s throw away from the Klein Drakenstein Prison, the iconic setting of Nelson Mandela’s release and the emergence of a new democracy. The place where the South African dream of an equal South Africa for all took flight.

The Foundation’s vision of an equitable South Africa is driven by our belief that a community of high impact responsible entrepreneurs will positively shape the economic, social and political landscape of our beloved country. We also know that this takes time and patience to bring to bear a transformed South Africa. It is in the hands of our beneficiaries to take up the challenge and it is our duty to empowering these bright sparks. However, this journey to empowerment is not a quick fix with short-term change but rather sustainable change and movement toward personal dignity and courage.

The Scholar Development Programme comprises of various interventions of which the National Development Camp is one. It is a pitstop in our Scholars’ journey toward growing themselves and their entrepreneurial mindset in preparation of the Fellowship opportunity. In his book, Seven Habit of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey say that personal victory leads to public victory and this means knowing yourself equals winning in the game of life. For this reason, one of the core foci of the Development programme is Personal Mastery. In support of this we hosted Personal Mastery sessions dealing with identity, choice and diversity which highlighted the challenges Scholars navigate daily. Scholars identified with diverse issues such as not fitting in and the fear of being different among other. These sessions also saw Scholars emboldened toward personal change and the roots of transformation evident in their reflection on the transformative power of the sessions.

One of the broader aims of the Foundation is to build a community of like-minded individuals who may affect future change. The Fellowship host Jamboree, a space where Candidate Fellows can grow their entrepreneurial muscle and pitch their ideas to a cohort of their peers. The Scholars were given the opportunity to be a part of Jamboree, gaining direct access to Candidate Fellows and Association members. Among the Candidate Fellows Scholars also met up with Scholar Alumni who had made the transition into the Fellowship programme. A handful of Scholars also took some time to pitch their ideas at the Jamboree.

Finally, the Scholars were taken on a journey that explored the concept of entrepreneurial mindsets. They were given scope to ideate, present, design and prototype a response to the challenges outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP). To give context to how young South Africans are addressing issues related to the NDP Scholar used Dadewethu, a social entrepreneurial business, who provides solutions for the lack of support for females at the university campus of UCT (University of Cape Town) as a live case study. Scholars then had an opportunity to experience bringing their ideas to life at the Maker-Space in Observatory, Cape Town giving them the opportunity to apply their understanding of entrepreneurial mindset in a live simulation.

There was a general sense that this Development Camp galvanised Scholars resolve to remain connected to the Foundation pipeline.

 

Accelerated Entrepreneurship: A Taste of the Real Thing

Accelerated Entrepreneurship: A Taste of the Real Thing

For one weekend only, the graduating Fellows of 2016 left their ordinary comfortable lives of new employment or post-graduate studies to occupy a seat at the executive table of New Horizons Financial Services. This pilot Accelerated Entrepreneurship Assessment Lab spearheaded by the Association aimed at developing the personal and entrepreneurial mind-sets of the latest cohort of fellows.

One would think that having being on the Foundation from year engage to experience, the Fellows would be well equipped to develop and implement a turnaround strategy in a company over a weekend. The reality of the situation was that when faced with decisions relating to cutting costs in order to achieve a higher returns, Fellows needed direction as to how to do this effectively. This highlighted the fact that no matter how well read you are about entrepreneurship, you still need guidance through the practical elements in order to succeed.

Over the course of the weekend, Fellows were tasked with managing a company in the financial services sector for three years. A high pressure environment was created by the volume of information that teams had to digest in a limited time period. And competition, of course. The mandate for the three years was clear: increase return on equity, customer and employee satisfaction while simultaneously decreasing costs. Teams were given a board pack outlining the operations, strategy and financials of New Horizons from which they had to develop a strategy on how to achieve the objective at hand.  After each financial year, the teams’ performance was evaluated. Some teams made bold moves by firing half of their work force in the first year only to hire most of them again in the second and third year. Other teams decided to focus on staff development in order to improve client service and sustain brand loyalty while others increased capital investments in the information technology and systems integration. It was evident that all the teams knew which aspects to focus on. The difficulty came in prioritising which aspect to focus on and when.

These decisions resulted in robust discussions amongst the Fellows that challenged them to think about entrepreneurship holistically instead simply focusing on increasing return on equity. The winning team, Multiply, comprised of engineers and a scientist. Multiply won because they were confident in their strategy despite the poor financial performance they experienced in the first year and consistently applied their strategy.  This reinforced the idea that entrepreneurship is about diversity of thought amongst people who are willing to work together and endure the test of time in order to achieve a common goal.

The simulation did not only give Fellows a skillset on how to make the tough business decisions but also challenged them to think about what entrepreneurship means to them individually and what it looks like. As fellows returned to their ordinary lives, the facilitators encouraged them to interrogate the initial intention driving them towards entrepreneurship and the need this intention addressed. The Accelerated Entrepreneurship lab unlocked each teams’ entrepreneurial potential. Now it’s up to the Fellows, “to harness it, hone it, tap into it, nurture it, nourish it, guide it and watch it grow.”

The appointment of our new CEO

The appointment of our new CEO

It is with great pleasure that we announce the appointment of our new CEO, Yogavelli Nambiar.

Yogavelli succeeds Anthony Farr, who tendered his resignation earlier this year after 12 years at the helm of the Foundation. He will be moving on to take up responsibilities for Allan & Gill Gray Philanthropies (Africa), a philanthropic arm of the Allan & Gill Gray Foundation.

At the time of his resignation, Anthony said: “The greatest adventure of my life was being part of the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation. But as with any adventure there comes a time to step aside.” Yogavelli inherits a well-established Foundation, equipped to embrace a range of new challenges associated with the modern world and to further grow the organisation.

“We are pleased to welcome Yogavelli to her new role as CEO of the Foundation. She has so many insights to offer and we look forward to drawing on her long line of experience developing entrepreneurs across the African continent,” says board chairman, Professor Njabulo Ndebele.

Professor Ndebele again thanked Anthony, who he says delivered well on the Foundation’s inception mandate to invest, inspire and develop individuals who will go on to become high impact, responsible entrepreneurs capable of transforming the future of the Southern African Region.

As the new CEO, Yogavelli joins the Foundation with extensive experience, having previously founded and headed up the Enterprise Development Academy at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), business school of the University of Pretoria as its Director, where she led the entrepreneurship efforts of the school within the centre. Prior to that she was Country Director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women Initiative and led the design and delivery of this successful international women’s entrepreneurship programme in South Africa.

“I am excited to be part of the brainchild of Allan Gray and to work alongside a long line of capable individuals who work tirelessly to help make a sustainable, long-term and positive contribution to Southern Africa. Thank you to the board for entrusting me in my capacity as the Foundation’s new CEO,” Yogavelli says.

Professor Ndebele concludes: “Yogavelli’s experience and expertise will ensure future opportunities are harnessed while building on the institutional capabilities of the Foundation in the process.”

An entrepreneurial awakening

An entrepreneurial awakening

Dominic Koenig_RoosterMore often than not entrepreneurship is something you can feel in your bones. It’s something that is modelled to you by parents or other family members or it’s often a desire, present from a young age, to be independent, to be a pioneer. In Dominic Koenig’s case, however, entrepreneurship is something he learned much later in life – a way of thinking, of questioning the status quo and recognising inefficiencies. Dominic’s entrepreneurial awakening was thanks to the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation’s Fellowship, and an irritating necessity – a morning alarm.

When embarking on his Fellowship journey with the Foundation in 2013, Dominic thought of himself as more of a humanitarian. In fact, his desire to help people and see South Africa transformed and flourishing is what initially drew him to the Foundation. He recalls: ”I had this burning desire to be a part of a community that sought to improve the socio-economic status of the country I love so much.” But the idea of becoming an entrepreneur was still far from his mind.

Then one morning in 2015 he woke up, for the umpteenth time, to his smart phone alarm. “I hated that sound; just dreaded it,” Dominic explains. That’s when he started questioning why the first sound you hear every day was something terrible and what life would be like if what woke you up “was actually something that’s awesome and amazing and something that you could look forward to.” He immediately arranged with his sister to perform some of her ridiculous accents and recorded them. For the next few days he played her funny recordings, starting his day with a smile instead of a groan. When Dominic eventually grew tired of these same recordings he started questioning again: What if his sister could send him new recordings without him knowing about them?

roosterThat was the genesis of Rooster – a mobile app, available on Android and IOS, that wakes you up with your choice of content, for example inspirational quotes, comedy, news or voice notes from friends. “It’s such a cool experience getting roosters from friends and family,” says Dominic. And the bonus is you wake up easier! “Because you’re comprehending something that’s being said, your brain has to switch on and listen.”

Rooster has the potential of being a game changer in advertising. Given the fact that almost everyone who owns a smartphone uses it as an alarm, the potential user base is colossal. Big brands could use Rooster to connect with these millions of users on a very intimate way – not with advertisements, of course, but with specially crafted content. Imagine waking to an inspiring message from a world-renowned athlete because you selected the content of a sports brand as your Rooster. The possibilities are endless, and imagining them all is what gets Dominic working long hours to make Rooster a success.

This understanding of hard work and determination is something he learned from his father, who, at the age of 40, started studying to be a radiologist. Dominic, his mom and three siblings all have “many memories of him studying for 12 hours a day, setting the best example of what sacrifice, determination and discipline entails.” Seeing how his father’s risk had paid off is perhaps why Dominic thought it worthwhile to give up an opportunity to do his articles at Deloitte in London. Another reason he was willing to dive right into an entrepreneurial venture right after university (he studied Business Science with Accounting at UCT) was the opportunity to work with his co-founder and school friend, Josh Perry. “He’s just the most positive, inspirational person.” Dominic explains that after surviving cancer Josh understood what it meant to live life to the full, which is why Josh quit his job at a very reputable medical tech company after Dominic shared the idea of Rooster with him.

Dominic’s version of entrepreneurial awakening – not experienced at a young age or as a deep-seated knowing – should offer inspiration to many. He and Rooster is proof that your entrepreneurial awakening can happen at any time. All that’s really needed is a new way of thinking, of questioning and solving inefficiencies, and some people to inspire and encourage you to take risks and work hard.