I am a 26 year old Xhosa female entrepreneur born and bred in East London, Eastern Cape. I attended the University of Johannesburg and completed my bachelor in Commerce in Economics and Econometrics. My working life started while still in university in my final year in September 2013, working as a marketer for Phillip Morris South Africa. The marketing bug since bit me as my following jobs were in a marketing role. In October 2014, I informally started my company and named it Unorthodox PR and Media Group, which wasn’t registered till the following year in April. Before starting the company I had an urge to do more & be more and I was fortunate enough to secure my first client before my company was formally registered at CIPC. Since then we’ve won international awards for our clients, gone up against a listed company and we have been nominated for the continental Africa Youth Awards in 2017.

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

I have always been entrepreneurial since I was very young. I remember when I was 11 years old and I wanted to have a cellphone. My parents didn’t understand who I would be chatting to so I made a deal with them. Should I be able to raise half of the amount of the mobile phone, they would then be obligated to give me the other half and purchase my cellphone. A few months passed of selling popcorn and junk food that my peers adored so much and I met my target. I then presented R10 notes and many coins to my parents and soon enough I had my Motorola T190 mobile. I love telling this story because it’s an indication of the qualities I’ve always possessed which are resilience, goal orientated, great problem solving skills, negotiation skills and my people skills. Going on this journey has possibly been the hardest 4 years of my life as I’ve sacrificed, watching my peers ‘seemingly’ surpassed me when it comes to attaining material possession and having to grow up very quickly to now being able to relate to older generations. On the way I’ve encountered an excessive amount of misogyny and a realization and awareness of how hard it is to be young, black and female in business. With the hardships and obstacles I’ve also built an immense amount of confidence, a no nonsense taking attitude, an assertive, aggressive nature and I do not take no for an answer. By losing friends and so called ‘supportive family’ one truly realizes how strong and capable one is, and I can safely say that not much scares me or gets me down.

Please tell us a little more about your CSI Initiative.

The Women’s Youthpreneur Academy which is now called the ‘Unorthodox Black Women’s Youth Network (UBWYN) was born out of my frustration of how young black women had to face almost impossible obstacles just to even gain a client. Women are scared, doubtful and undervalue themselves when we have so much to offer and bring to the table. This initiative started in 2015 with small gatherings to discuss issues. The gatherings were not always consistent as it seemed to me that women spoke a lot, but there was no action. The name change to UBWYN was inspired by wanting to create an economy amongst women. When it comes to big projects often women are told to exchange sexual favors for clients and even potential meetings which lead to nowhere which is absolutely ridiculous! It then dawned on me that there are more women than men and Africa is a fairly young continent in terms of inhabitants, so why not have our own economy, work with each other and use our collective voices to be the change that we want. I’m not a mother yet, but I have a 9 year old niece that I adore so much and I want to instill in her what I now know and I want her to be unapologetically aggressive by getting what she wants.

What is it that you are passionate about?

I am passionate about business. Through business we understand money, we create jobs, we find and seek solutions. I am passionate about the economic emancipation of females. Through this females will be empowered, they will escape traumatizing situations such as domestic violence and they will see their true potential.

What is your personal motto?

‘Go big or go home’. I’m an extremist, so I either give it my all or nothing at all, hence my decision making, may sometimes, have a bit of a time lag.

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

  1. Close your eyes and imagine your ideal future.
  2. Forget about the world or anyone owing you anything.
  3. Go for it with everything you have and be prepared to undergo mental & emotional trauma and also be prepared to attain unexplainable peace and joy in the same breath.

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

The older I get, the more I realize how scary it is that females don’t have strong male figures. I have had strong, loving, resilient male figures in my life. From a super involved father who would sit in the hair salon with me for hours while preparing for my beauty pageants as a 6 year old, to paternal and maternal grandfathers who would just sit with my younger self, have tea and listen to my conversations. I am not undermining the role that my mother has in my life, but male figures in a female instill a strong sense of worth. Those male figures have had the biggest influence in my life and because they were there and so involved, my interaction with males is also different and almost understanding.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Physically, I haven’t changed much over the years and my attitude also hasn’t changed much. When growing up I’ve always had an aggressive go-getter attitude, I have always been individualistic and extremely independent, but I was always afraid to show those traits. I would always try to ‘soften up’, fit in and not draw too much attention to myself. I wish I had realized from a young age that there was nothing wrong with those traits I possessed. I wish I would’ve explored all of them to the extreme and that would possibly have given other young girls the ‘okay’ to be themselves.

Your favourite daily affirmation:

I’m unapologetically a Christian, so it’s hard to have one daily affirmation. I read the Bible quite frequently and every scripture is an affirmation to me.

Your favourite quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” ~Marianne Williamson

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.” ~Audrey Hepburn.

Which book are you reading now?

The Alchemist and The 50th Law.

Which book can you read over and over again?

The Power of One and The Alchemist.

What are your top 3 business tips?

  1. Follow up! No one will come running to you with opportunities so follow up till you get your way.
  2. Be consistent! It’s usually what we do daily, the habits we form that make us successful.
  3. Network! The real currency isn’t money, but it is the people you meet. Once you declare what you want to achieve, people that will help you along the way are drawn to you.

What would you say is the secret to your success?

I’m a bit crazy and extremely optimistic. The world of business needs someone who can smile and laugh when your world seems like it is crumbling around you. Also I have trained myself to always find the silver lining in every situation I have been in. As a result, I don’t have ‘bad’ things that happen to me, I have lessons that I’m always learning.

One general piece of advice you would like to share:

Our success usually lies in solving a problem for others. Success always starts off as a selfless sacrifice, once you master that, then your own desires are added on to you.

Contact Information:
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/sibabalwesesmani
Facebook: Unorthodox PR and Media Group
Twitter: @PrUnorthodox@sesmanis