Demonstrating true grit in face of adversity

I first met young entrepreneur Jade Wyngaardt at the City of Cape Town’s #YouthStartCT competition.

Jade went on to be a deserved winner of the competition this year.

We then asked her to be our guest speaker at our Community Business expo, and I was again so taken by her journey and her courage. To me she demonstrates true grit. I asked her some questions about her journey.

Here’s some nuggets she shared

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business?

Afriversity is a digital skills learning concept me and my partner, George Wyngaardt, came up with. The Afriversity model is basically a digital ecosystem designed to tackle two major problems, youth unemployment and small business failure to market effectively.

We partnered with Masitithuke Holdings to obtain ICT learners whom we then trained within the digital marketing sector to service small businesses that cannot afford to pay full-price for online marketing services.

This way, learners get to work with real-life clients, while building up a small business that would otherwise not have access to a dedicated person to handle the online marketing of their business. The concept was tested and it works, we are just looking for ways to scale. My business is Click Africa Digital and I’ve been building it since January 2016.

What are some key milestones in your journey?

In 2016, landing my first client in February; my first agency client in March; and tripling my revenue between February and June.

In 2017, landing my first international client in July; placing third in the Nampak Bevcan Can Do national entrepreneur competition in October; leaving my permanent job to work in business full-time in November; revenue increasing month-on-month by 15%.

In 2018, first grant injection from NYDA in December; year-to-date revenue from 2017 to 2018 increased by more than 300%.

In 2019, employed first person fully in February; started the Afriversity concept in May; won #YouthstartCT in June; moved into new offices in July; and increased month-on-month revenue by 50%.

What are three key lessons that you could share with readers?

Be persistent – this is key for every entrepreneur. What is persistence? Google says “continuing firmly or obstinately in an opinion or course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” It’s a simple notion but is difficult in practice.

Introspection – take time to evaluate yourself, check in with yourself to see if you’re on the right path, ask yourself the difficult questions and maintain a healthy balance.

Consistency – doing things daily, at the same value and energy as the first time for every client, relationship, employee, plan, etc. Consistency builds your character in the eyes of those that are around you.

You were the recent winner of the City of Cape Town’s #YouthStartCT competition. What was that like and what, in your opinion, is the value of participating in these kind of events?

It was amazing, the validation that you receive for your idea/business far out-weighs the prizes.

As an entrepreneur, it is fuel to keep the fire of a dream burning so you can reach the summit of what you would like your business to achieve. I am so grateful to the stakeholders that take the time to put together these kinds of events, it is super encouraging, it gives us a platform, a boost and a voice.

When I think about your journey, particularly as you have navigated serious health challenges while building your business, I think of the word “resilience”. Can you tell us a bit about that challenge and how you coped?

Being diagnosed with breast cancer at 27 years , just six months after starting a business was very difficult. I had two small children, aged 2 and 1, I was working and running the business at the time.

I coped by means of faith, family and friends. To be honest, I don’t think I would’ve survived the load alone. I had the support of my husband for the business aspect, my family rallied to help with homely/motherly tasks and my friends kept my spirits high.

Through it all, I believe the desire to want to get through it, to want to beat it against all odds, and to do the impossible was the main driver for me. Overcoming adversity is like that – just a burning desire to not accept the status quo and to reach for an outcome you desire for yourself instead.

There are sadly less women entrepreneurs entering the entrepreneurial journey than men. Why do you think that is, and what encouragement can you give?

I think women are more risk-averse and thus less likely to take a gamble to follow our dreams.

We’ve been taught to be cautious and to think rationally while putting others before our own desires – meaning the risk-abound, self-focused dream-chasing path of entrepreneurship is a daunting one for us to take.

What is encouraging though, are the same traits that make us less likely to venture into entrepreneurship, are the ones that are fueling women entrepreneurs, a desire to nurture, care for, provide for and sustain our families in times of job insecurity – we have the resilience, focus, intuition and love for what we do that we find any way to raise our businesses up as we would our families.

A final word of encouragement to readers?

Trust God with it all, venture down the path no matter how daunting it may seem – when you’re operating in your God-given talent you will succeed.

Steve Reid is the manager of the Centre for Entrepreneurship (CFE) at False Bay College. Entrepreneurs with creative ideas in manufacturing can also contact the CFE at 021 201 1215.