“Nil magnum, nisi bonum” means “without goodness, there can be no greatness” in Latin. This is the motto of a young woman who is steadily making her way to becoming a high-impact entrepreneur. Dinika Govender – born in Kwazulu-Natal, raised in Johannesburg and now a resident in Cape Town – cites her upbringing as critical to her all-round achievement-mindset. At Jeppe High School for Girls she excelled in academics, sport, culture and proved herself a natural leader. One may say her trajectory was promising by the time she was 18, but she was driven by a nagging feeling about this country and her generation’s role in its development.
That nagging concern has to do with the persistence of systems that have entrenched inequality in South Africa. Migrant labour and spatial separation are two examples. Not easily daunted by the idea of contributing to transforming these two extremely complex systems, Dinika views her area of change as a function of moral obligation and a dose of future-orientated logic.
She argues from the position of a creative thinker, and explains that diversity is an oft-overlooked yet core ingredient for creativity and innovation. She observes that as the Rainbow Nation, we could be at the forefront of the design, technology and startup industries. But we aren’t. A lot of that has to do with the physical separation of races – and as a result – of cultures, beliefs and creative capital. “Our cities have been designed to keep different race-groups apart and although cities are becoming more diverse at a macro-level, we’re not becoming more integrated. Many South Africans still live, work and play within the insular spaces designed for them by apartheid and colonial regimes,” explains Dinika.
Upon befriending some Allan Gray Candidate Fellows and joining the Fellowship, Dinika was relieved to find herself among people who had the same nagging feelings about this country as she did. The concept of high-impact entrepreneurship resonated with her and this philosophy is guiding not only her business ventures, but also her way of life.
“I’m currently in the research and prototyping phase of my entrepreneurial journey. I’m trying to read as much and as widely as I can around the philosophies that have built the world as we know it, and I’m always trying to connect to people younger and older than me, locally and abroad, who are taking risks and living up to their own high-impact ideals.”
Dinika has registered a holding company with the vision of housing a portfolio of companies geared towards tangible social transformation. The first brand in her portfolio is Bakewell, a bakery that brings her passion for healthy, local food to life. She’s spent the last few months market-testing the products in Cape Town and is now working on a plan to grow the business.
Dinika is a Trends Strategist for Lacuna Innovation – a consultancy focused on helping companies to innovate new products, services and business models. She also co-organises New Media Mondays and consults to the TEDx UCT team. Dinika is also actively involved in community development through Thousand Network, trains for half-marathons and is building her writer’s muscle. Her efforts have culminated in her contributing to a book on Movement in South African Cities, to be published nationally later in 2015.
With so much on the go, how does she keep it all together? Dinika makes a point of setting aside time to read, exercise and introspect. She accepts that with her interpretation of ‘high-impact entrepreneurship’ being akin to social transformation, the changes she wishes to see might not actually manifest in her lifetime. However, she jokily adds that, “If Oprah ever were to invite a bunch of Fellows for a chat on high-impact entrepreneurship, I think we’ll know we’ve manifested it.” Carpe diem, Dinika!