As the son of two educators, Allan Gray Fellow Sechaba Selialia was raised around books and grew to love reading. This love of books and their different views of the world would lead him to what he describes as his life’s calling: “to raise people’s consciousness around certain topics.” He explains that no one can force a change in behaviour, but it is possible to make people aware of other options and the possibility that what they believe and how they perceive might not be the end of the story.
His first consciousness-changing endeavour took the form of a student movement, Africa Rebranded, which he founded while at university. This movement promoted the ideology of Afro-optimism and allowed for discourse that articulated the African condition and how it played out in the university context. His desire to change perspectives has also filtered through to his entrepreneurial endeavours.
Through his fashion and apparel brand, Scoody, he’s changing the way people view the traditional scarf and hoodie. Two separate items of clothing take on a different form as a single accessory that is a hybrid between the sc- of the scarf and the -oody of the hoody.
Sechaba came across a similar item while studying his BCom degree in in Economics and Finance at the University of Cape Town. He saw the untapped potential in terms of creating a brand around the item and marketing its fashionability and multi-functional nature. Four years on and he’s celebrating the brand’s biggest contract to date: the license to manufacture and distribute Kaizer Chiefs branded Scoodies nationwide.
Given Sechaba’s frequent intellectual and cerebral pursuits, it’s quite fitting that he views Scoody as the geek lab of clothing. “We experiment to simplify clothing, embracing multi-functionality and the uniqueness that comes about as a result … making it cool to be a nerd!” he explains. Offering three Scoody options – an entry-level one, a limited range one and one that can be custom-designed – allows them to meet the needs of a very broad customer base. Says Sechaba: “We manufacture and distribute the Scoody to serve as a vessel through which people [and brands] can communicate their uniqueness and differentiate themselves.”
Born and raised in Vereeninging, Sechaba first found out about the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation when a representative came to deliver a presentation at during his Matric year. He recognised that the opportunity had the potential for holistic learning and growth. “My thoughts and emotions at the time were that I would make my family and school proud if I was to be awarded the scholarship and would certainly set myself up for a bright future,” says Sechaba.
Sechaba describes the experience of becoming a beneficiary of the Foundation in 2009 and graduating as a Fellow four years later as a life-changing one – more so than what he initially anticipated. He explains that it’s not just about the financial benefit. The community of astute entrepreneurs and future change-makers that one becomes part of is even more valuable. “A wise man once said that ‘your network is your net worth’ and [the Fellowship] opportunity certainly increases one’s ‘net worth’ substantially!”
While at UCT, Sechaba served in the residence leadership structures for three out of the four years he spent in the university residence system. After completing his undergraduate degree he went on to do his BCom Honours in Financial Analysis and Portfolio Management. He now works at Edge Growth as a Business Analyst and serves on the Executive Committee of the Association of Allan Gray Fellows, heading up its Ventures portfolio.
With his knack for seeing the world differently, he certainly embodies what the Foundation calls Intellectual Imagination – an established record of intellectual achievement; an ability to see the unseen, challenge the status quo and suggest that things could be done differently.