Passionate about youth entrepreneurship

Indira Tsengiwe of Youngpreneur Media. (Supplied)
Indira Tsengiwe of Youngpreneur Media. (Supplied)
Cape Town - Indira Tsengiwe is the founder of Youngpreneur Media and an advocate for the cultivation of entrepreneurial mindsets across Africa. Fin24 asked her about her journey as an entrepreneur.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

I am the founder of Youngpreneur Media. As an advocate for the cultivation of entrepreneurial mindsets across the continent, I am passionate about youth entrepreneurship.

I spend most of my days actively converting the ideas of the Youngpreneur Media team into reality.

Our purpose is to be at the forefront of entrepreneurial content creation targeted for young people.

As a Bachelor of Business Science: Management Studies (Finance) graduate from the University of Cape Town (UCT) it is quite odd that I found myself in media.

Earlier this year I would often question myself as to whether I made the right decision by not following the traditional route of my university career.

But I believe that passion is perhaps what got me here.

There is a social economic wave that has the potential to change South Africa and the rest of Africa as a whole.

We have seen the positive effects of it in various booming economies, including Nigeria and Chile.

My entrepreneurial journey started at 19. In the past six years I have come to know success, I have also experienced great failures.

These failures have allowed me to travel, write a book and, most importantly, be able to understand the range of challenges and opportunities experienced by other young entrepreneurs so that I may be able to communicate effectively with them.

How and when did you become an entrepreneur?

I had the opportunity to travel with a mentor to Egypt for an entrepreneurship boot camp hosted by the US and Danish governments, in Egypt in  2011.

In Cairo I saw entrepreneurship in a different light. It wasn’t survivalist.

The entrepreneurs from all three countries (US, Denmark and Egypt) were very successful.

None of them were entrepreneurs because they had to be, they were entrepreneurs because they wanted to be financially secure.

I realised that (at least at that point) entrepreneurship in South Africa had been painted very differently.

To most people, being an entrepreneur meant that you owned a “spaza shop", or had a small business.

It wasn’t about innovation and certainly not about being rich.

I believe that entrepreneurship provides solutions to many of the social and economic issues we face as an economy, but I don’t believe that its prospects are being told in a way that encourages young people in this country to become entrepreneurs.

I wanted to be part of a system that taught people that they could achieve greatness.

What is the Youngpreneur Media concept?

The flagship brand of Youngpreneur Media is iamyoungpreneur. The iamyoungpreneur platform is an online stage where young entrepreneurs tell their own stories.

Through this camaraderie inspiration is cultivated, as young entrepreneurs from around the world speak to other young entrepreneurs about their journeys (lessons learnt, opportunities found, challenges experienced) in entrepreneurship.
What success have you had in the company so far?

We are currently finalising a television production, three online shows and the distribution of iamyoungpreneur in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana.

We also just finalised a contract with a leading airline. Soon, you will be able to watch iamyoungpreneur shows while travelling - which is very exciting for us.

What are the challenges?

Our biggest challenge was finding our purpose, identity and position as a brand.

There’s a need to create something that is not easy for competitors to copy.

How do you handle challenges?

We had to be honest with ourselves as a team: By asking and answering questions that would help us define who we are.

There is a cardboard cut-out of the Youngpreneur consumer in our offices. The consumer represents the person that this specific brand, with this specific identity, targets.

Every now and then as entrepreneurs we need to experience our companies from the perspective of the consumer.

It is not good enough to sit in your office and dream. You have to step outside and ask the right people (customers) the right questions.

How did/do you fund your business?

From experience, I don’t necessarily believe that every business needs funding to get started.

I believe that with passion and purpose almost anything can be achieved, if one is willing to look at other options to achieve certain tasks.

Youngpreneur Media was funded through making strategic decisions. The decisions we made in the early days of the business carried us till we were able to generate revenue.

What lessons did you learn?

A common lesson I have gained from my own experience and that of other young entrepreneurs is that of self belief.

Until you can get all of the issues of doubt and second guessing yourself out of the way, there is nothing much that you can achieve.

What advice would you have for other entrepreneurs?

Our success as entrepreneurs is dependent on the journey we decide within our imagination.

The limits of our entrepreneurial dreams are the limits of what we could achieve entrepreneurially. Everything else stems from that vision.

The team we choose / work with are the people who are sold to that journey.

It is important to be completely honest with yourself (as an entrepreneur) as to what you want to achieve.

If you want to achieve the impossible, then think the impossible. If you want to achieve the possible, then think the possible.

Put South Africa and Africa in context as far as your business and opportunities for entrepreneurs are concerned?

South Africa is one of the world’s most privileged economies in terms of growth potential.

We have the unusual merge of third world problems and first world infrastructure.

If as a society we could cultivate the spirit of entrepreneurship to resolve such problems, the economy would have the ability grow at a higher growth rate.

It is upsetting to see the dependency on government or the existing corporate landscape on job creation.

In other African economies (countries which face similar or worse unemployment, economic  and social issues) it is rare to find a beggar.

The problems we have in South Africa and the rest of Africa indicate the range of opportunities for entrepreneurship - not just in terms of survivalist entrepreneurship, but innovative entrepreneurship.

In South Africa, as long as the focus is on the fruits of early day entrepreneurship (that is established companies today, which were start-ups years ago) to provide job opportunities, instead of the effective development and support of current entrepreneurs the growth of the economy will be very slow.

South Africa has the second lowest youth entrepreneurial activity in the world!

What are your future plans?

The vision of Youngpreneur is to be the louder voice of inspiration to young entrepreneurs across the African continent.

It is important to us to create a multi-media experience of Youngpreneur Media brands. We are currently working on converting the
“iamyoungpreneur” experience from online, to television and even live events.

* Share your experience of setting up a business or simply ask a question. Our business panel can put you on the right path.

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