Antoinette started her entrepreneurial journey in 2004 after leaving McKinsey and Company with the aim to positively influence how business is done in Africa. She started her first business, Afrofusion Advertising in her mother’s lounge with R200, a laptop and a pocket full of dreams and hopes for this beautiful continent. Over the past twelve years, she gained extensive experience in accessing new markets by taking her business to Uganda, Kenya and servicing clients in Nigeria. She is passionate about the entrepreneurial space across the continent and shares her expertise by mentoring emerging entrepreneurs. She launched the 88 Business Collective in 2016 and focuses on accelerating women owned businesses from marginalized communities utilizing her Growth Through Collaboration methodology.

Please tell us a little more about yourself and your journey thus far.

Antoinette started her entrepreneurial journey in 2004 after leaving McKinsey and Company with the aim to positively influence how business is done in Africa. She started her first business, Afrofusion Advertising in her mother’s lounge with R200, a laptop and a pocket full of dreams and hopes for this beautiful continent. She organically grew the agency by pulling together a dynamic team of employees, fusing expertise from management consultants, communications specialists and graphic designers.

In 2005, the Department of Communications appointed Afrofusion to develop and implement a communications strategy. The scope of the engagements was to inform key stakeholders of the importance in complying with the PFMA and the PPPA, procurement regulations from National Treasury. She worked closely with senior management such as the Chief Financial Officer and the Deputy Director General.

In 2007, she led the creative team, who implemented an award winning through-the-line campaign for Indalo Yethu, South Africa’s Environmental Campaign. She developed the strategy, which led to the successful implementation of a holistic campaign aimed at encouraging communities to Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. She played an integral part in ensuring the TV, radio and print campaign was produced on time and within a tiny budget. The TV ad won a Vuka award, which led to Antoinette being featured on CNBC Africa and SAFM and this in turn gave the client more exposure.

In 2008, a team of management consultants stationed at one of the biggest hospitals in the world, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, appointed Afrofusion to develop a communications strategy that would reach every household in Soweto. She led the team with strategy formulation and implemented Project Phenduka. The project reached a large percentage of households in Soweto and Lenasia with strategic messaging. Antoinette formed a strong relationship, on behalf of the client, with Soweto TV, community radio and newspapers. She managed the below-the-line activations at taxi ranks, churches, schools and the hospital.

In 2009, she decided to acquire a larger agency to compliment our team of 15 employees. She focused her attention on the acquisition to position Afrofusion a major player in the advertising sector. Significant top-level attention was focused on the potential merger and after a period of ten months the sellers cancelled the deal. The end result was that during this time, not enough attention was devoted to ongoing marketing and promoting the business with existing and new clients, with turnover down substantially from the previous financial year with losses incurred. She led the agency back from potential liquidation by closing the Durban office and augmenting the business strategy to focus on organic growth.

In 2010, she led the expansion programme to East Africa. She developed the strategy for the launch of Mara Telecoms, an independent telecoms player in Uganda and a subsidiary of the Mara Group. She secured new business with clients in the FMCG and IT sectors In Uganda and Kenya and serviced these accounts whilst travelling between the Johannesburg, Uganda and Kenya offices over a two-year period. She was featured in various local newspapers for my insights into the communications space in East Africa.

In 2015, she decided to play a significant role in creating more employment for graduates in the creative space by hosting an internship programme for 50 interns for 12-months from 3 August 2015. This decision to impact led to the liquidation of Afrofusion.

In 2016, she established the 88 Business Collective, an 18-month Accelerator Programme for Emerging Women Entrepreneurs. Antoinette created an ecosystem of support driven by collaboration, access to new markets and using tech to enhance businesses processes. The programme creates a symbiotic relationship between various stakeholders that ensures 88BCAfrica stays true to its ethos of accelerating world-class African businesses.

Cliff Central:
CNBC Africa

• She was honored as a Golden Key member at Wits University in Johannesburg, in 2010. Other recipients of this honor are Finance Minister, Trevor Manual and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, making it truly prestigious.
• She has been featured on SAFM, CNBC Africa, various local publications and the New Vision Newspaper in Uganda.
• She was a regular mentor on SABC 1s, Making Moves.
• She is passionate about the entrepreneurial space across the continent and shares her expertise by mentoring emerging entrepreneurs.

You are busy with some very interesting projects. Please tell us a little more about that.

It takes a village to grow a business and our Growth Through Collaboration methodology runs through our DNA. Since our launch in October 2016, we have solidified partnerships that will ensure we deliver a world-class programme to our women entrepreneurs. We are collaborating with Leanne Dlamini from End Girl Hate and here’s what she had to say:

The reality is that two out of three businesses fail each year because of a lack of knowledge and support. We are here to lower that percentage drastically. Combine this with a lack of effective accelerator programmes focused on women entrepreneurs in the market and we have an opportunity for a symbiotic relationship with potential funders and strategic partners that ensures accelerated growth for Emerging Women Entrepreneurs. There are various programmes focused on entrepreneurs but what sets the 88 Business Collective apart is that the programme offers Emerging Women Entrepreneurs continuous business development support over an 18-month period and a platform for accountability and a sounding board for making better business decisions. This is to ensure business growth by increasing revenue, improving access to markets and an increase in net jobs created as they expand their reach and product/service distribution.

We have secured the following organizations as strategic partners:
• ABSA, Western Cape, sponsored our launch and continues to be a strategic partner;
• PWC and Webber Wentzel provides professional services to our Collective over the 18-month period;
• Sanlam and Santam offer non-financial support;
• Wesgro and the Black Management forum are strategic partners in providing access to their women entrepreneurs’ networks

Accelerating World-Class African Businesses
The 88 Business Collective’s Accelerator Programme supports women entrepreneurs holistically by providing:
•  Quarterly Board of Advisory Meetings
•  Monthly on-site support by a Retired Business Executive
•  Regular workshops focussed on branding, finance, operations, using technology, marketing & sales
•  Digital support through an app developed for this purpose
•  Network support by encouraging the 88 entrepreneurs to support and buy from each other
•  An ecosystem for the women entrepreneurs to grow through collaboration.

What is it that you are passionate about?

Actively contributing to unleashing the true potential of this beautiful continent we call home.

What is your personal motto?

Get It Done!

What advice would you give a woman wanting to follow her dreams?

• Make sure your dream is not based on someone else’s. Pursue yours and you will know it is yours when it moves your soul.
• Surround yourself with people who know far more than you and listen to their how. • Plan, plan, plan and plan some more.
• Perfection is a myth, pursue excellence.
• Your business is not your baby.

Who or what has been the biggest influence in your life and why?

Firstly, my mom for being a positive motivating force in my life. Secondly, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for her powerful ability to paint beautiful scenes of our continent and her beloved Nigeria. Lastly, Khanyi Dhlomo for graciously building Ndalo Media.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Take it easy, there is no need to rush towards your dreams. Be extremely gentle with yourself baby girl, prioritize self-care.

Your favourite daily affirmation:

You’ve Got This!

Your favourite quote:

”Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1

Which book are you reading now?

The Pace Setter by Tim Tucker.

Which book can you read over and over again?

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

What are your top 3 business tips?

1. It takes a village to grow a business, find yours.
2. Get comfortable with your numbers, passion is great but your numbers will keep you in the game.
3. South Africa’s population is only a mere 55million people, the continent over a billion, think continentally.

What would you say is the secret to your success?

I found what moves my soul at the age of 26 but what kept me rolling from one failure after the other was remembering what moves my soul and staying focused on my why.

One general piece of advice you would like to share:

Make sure you have a life plan.

Contact Information:
Twitter: @antoprophy
Instagram: @antoprophy