In this, the third and final instalment of our Women’s Month articles, we turn to our sister company, Allan Gray, and ask Mosidi Modise to pen her personal entrepreneurship lessons. Mosidi is currently an Analyst at Allan Gray. Not only does she hold an MBA in Entrepreneurship from GIBS, she’s also a World Economic Forum Young Global Shaper who, at the tender age of 20, established and ran an award-winning guesthouse, Your Own World, in the Free State for four years. Mosidi serves on the Young Alumni Advisory Council of her alma mater, the University of the Free State.
We cannot underestimate the influence that women have on purchasing decisions. The Huffington Post recently reported that women influence 85% of all consumer spending in the US. The article also highlighted that women tend to have a holistic approach to leadership and decision making. Our decisions are more future-orientated and not only focus on the bottom line but take all stakeholders into consideration, including the community and the planet.
Locally, I think that more can be done to harness women’s collaborating with and empowering one another. I am, however, encouraged by the funds that are established with the intention of prioritising funding to women-owned ventures. I think that South Africa has been relatively progressive through BBBEE codes advocating for the increased economic participation of women. Young women should be equipped with more knowledge about the sectors that hold entrepreneurial opportunity. Such sectors exist in South Africa to enable women to establish businesses that can have a significant impact and achieve high growth in key sectors such as private equity, technology, retail and agriculture. The Kenyan government, for instance, has done a lot to get women into the tech industry by developing a successful model to be a progressive tech hub on the continent.
There’s not much difference between male and women-owned businesses in my opinion however, women gravitate towards establishing lifestyle businesses that are not always geared towards high growth and impact, whereas when most men start a business, they start it with the intention to “take over the world”. I certainly didn’t buck that trend when I ran Your Own World.
I established the guesthouse at a very young age and didn’t have much guidance on how to put an effective exit strategy in place. There was a time when we had overwhelming expressions of interest from potential buyers but I was not proactive about the potential sales opportunities. Your Own World sailed high mainly because of the 2010 world cup wave. I was very passionate about it and found meaning in what I was doing. Even though I only earned R3,000 a month it never bothered me because I loved what I did. I learned what it takes to lead well – humility and the will to ensure that everyone reaps the fruits of the business’ success. This is the first lesson I’d share with other entrepreneurs.
Pursuing my GIBS MBA, made me realise the futility of returning to a business that had served its purpose. At GIBS I learnt about the need for businesses that have high potential for growth and impact. Despite the accolades, I didn’t think Your Own World exhibited such potential. My experience with my guesthouse and the GIBS curriculum have, happily, left me with mixed views on how entrepreneurship can be fostered – it’s caught rather than strictly taught in my opinion.
I was excited when I was given the opportunity to join Allan Gray after having consulted for some boutique outfits for four years. I’m involved in great projects and find the culture at Allan Gray conducive to my being entrepreneurial in my role. So it’s not true to say that returning to the corporate world means being less entrepreneurial. This is the second insight I’ve gleaned.
I provide strategic support to GrowthShoot Inc – a company that empowers smallholder farmers by providing access to viable markets, effective farming business skills and collaboration. GrowthShoot’s projects are in my home province, Free State, and they encourage the youth to participate in the agricultural sector. Entrepreneurship is about leaving the world better than what you found it. This is my third lesson.
My final realisation is the need for supportive networks, mentors and role models. I really admire Oprah Winfrey, Ipeleng Mkhari, Phuthi Mahanyele, Judi Dlamini and my friend Stacey Brewer. Stacey is the CEO of Eadvance – a for-profit network of low-fee private schools that went from one to ten schools within three years – and is playing an active role towards improving education in South Africa.
These women exemplify the need for women to go for gold and punch above their weight. They hold the ladder for the rest of us to climb to their heights and beyond.
Like Mosidi, you too can have your article published if you’ve got what it takes to write for us! Send confirmation of your blog subscription and a 600 word article on your favourite topic in entrepreneurship to firstname.lastname@example.org by 7 September.