Jayshree Naidoo is the CEO of YIEDI, (Youth Innovation Entrepreneurship Design Institute) a company that focuses on Innovation and Strategy Consulting, Incubation Design and Management, Entrepreneurship and Supplier Development and Digital and eLearning Solutions. She has developed several frameworks and models for Innovation and Incubation and has created several structured acceleration programmes for Start-ups and Growth Entrepreneurs as well as Leadership Programmes for Corporates.

She was previously the head and the founder of the Standard Bank Incubator and has held several leadership roles in SA that include positions at The Development Bank of Southern Africa, Discovery, ABSA and Internet Solutions. She was previously the CEO of Feenix, a crowd funding platform for students launched by the bank, a board member of JASA (Junior Achievement South Africa), as well as the Chairperson of SAINe (The Southern African Innovation Network) and held a seat on NACI (The National Advisory Council on Innovation).

She was identified as one of the Top 25 Global FinTech Influencers. She has local and international experience in the fields of strategy, consulting, innovation, entrepreneurship and e-commerce. Her qualifications include an MBA, CAIB (SA), Honors in E-Commerce and IT.

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

I am 45 years old and I have worked in corporate South Africa for over 25 years. I have been married to the same amazing man for 26 years. Jay and I have two beautiful children, Alysha and Kehshan who are both creatives and entrepreneurs. I was born in Durban and grew up in an Indian township called Chatsworth. I have worked in over 8 companies, in 7 sectors and held over 13 positions. I have several qualifications and I love reading and broadening my knowledge. I love painting, writing and reading.

Please tell us how your Company came about.

About 8 years ago, Jay and I were sitting in a coffee shop and started a conversation around our passion – Entrepreneurship. Literally on the back of napkin we started to plot out what would later become the framework on which our company is built. A support system for entrepreneurs by leveraging the ecosystem that already exists.

Please tell us a little more about the YIEDI, and how it can benefit woman in business.

At present we are engaging with some amazing South Africans to create Access to Market Opportunities for entrepreneurs, including initiatives specifically targeting Female Entrepreneurs. Some of the initiatives that are aimed to benefit women in business is; a business opportunity marketplace for women, and we are trying to identify the top 20 women owned businesses in South Africa that we can position on the YIEDI platform, with opportunities in 82 countries (31 in Africa).

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

We are working on creating a movement around Access to Markets, by getting more corporates, government, foundations and other entrepreneur ecosystem players to invest in the opportunity marketplace, so that entrepreneurs they support through the ESD (Enterprise and Supplier Development Initiatives) also get the opportunities to access more clients, both locally and globally.

We are also introducing innovation and entrepreneurship as a core skill to corporate South Africa through leadership programmes that is aimed at improving innovation output. We have several programmes that we tailor for large corporates that improves their internal and external capabilities around incubation, innovation, design thinking and entrepreneurship.

What is it that you are passionate about?

I am passionate about making a difference in the lives of people that I engage with. I have had the privilege of working with some amazing individuals in my career and through our business and have been blessed to live a purpose filled life. There is no greater joy than making a difference in someone’s life and a small act of kindness or just an introduction can make a world of difference to the person you are helping. I am also passionate about teaching and helping others understand complex issues and using their new-found knowledge to improve their lives and their business.

What is your personal motto?

Live a Life of Purpose.

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

The same advice I would give a man. You are more than your job or the title given to you, by society or anyone else. You can achieve whatever you put your mind to, just believe in yourself and put in the work to get you to your dream. A dream after all, is just reality waiting to happen.

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

My biggest influence has to be my husband, who I often refer to as my better half. He has shown me that you can achieve anything you put your mind to through drive and determination. He has also shown me the importance of following your dreams and you are never too old to achieve this. At 48 and after an MBA, he is now studying for a Bachelors in Education Degree because his lifelong dream is to be a teacher. He has also given me the support I needed to grow in my career, we often undervalue the role that our support structures play in our success, I would not have been able to achieve the level of success I have in my corporate and entrepreneurship journey if I did not have such an amazing spouse.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Believe in yourself every day. When the days seem long and the work load too much, look beyond the heartache, sweat and tears because your hard work will pay off and you will succeed, because who are you not to.

Your favourite daily affirmation:

This too shall pass.

Your favourite quote:

Be the change you want to see in the world – Mahatma Gandhi

Who or what is your inspiration and why?

Entrepreneurs inspire me because of their hustle, their tenacity and their drive. They live in most of us but only a few are brave enough to take the leap.

Which book are you reading now?

TED Talks: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking by Chris J. Anderson.

Which book can you read over and over again?

It’s a kids book that I highly recommend for adults too. Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss.

What are your top 3 business tips?

1. Deliver what you commit to.
2. Embrace innovative thinking into your business.
3. Collaborate.

What would you say is the secret to your success?

Amazing mentors in person and from the pages of the amazing business books that I have read.

One general piece of advice you would like to share:

Always make time for those that have helped you on your journey. Help grow others if you have the opportunity to do so without expecting anything in return.

Contact Information:
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jayshreenaidoo
Instagram: @jayshnaidoo
Twitter: @jayshnaidoo | @yied_i