Dennis Ngango represents everything that makes South Africa’s youth the future of this country: He believes the youth have a responsibility to embrace their role in society, find their collective voice, and use it to the best of their ability.
Not content to wait for someone else to give him the chance to speak, the Vereeniging-based matric student launched Up & Coming Current in May 2012 with fellow schoolmate Sune Blignaut.
An online forum that gives youth a chance to share their hopes, dreams and aspirations, Ngango has big dreams for his initiative.
“At the moment we have 1 500 unique vistors on the site, but if I really want to empower and inspire my peers on a national level, this will need to grow substantially,” he says.
While Up & Coming Current is still new and small, Ngango is not a youngster who takes no for an answer. Realising that no business grows by itself, he researched local entrepreneurs until he made contact with Thebe Ikalafeng, a global African brand and reputation advisor, as well as author.
“Thebe has agreed to be my mentor, which has really opened my eyes on how to build my brand,” he says.
One of the strategies was to approach Blackberry and strike up a partnership. “90% of our viewers are on Blackberries, so we’re the perfect vehicle for them. I researched the company until I found contact details for their PR company, and I called them.
“At the time they were bringing Kid Cudi out to South Africa for a secret gig. It was the perfect time to start working together. Every time they bring someone out, we interview them, post it on our site, and drum up interest around the brand with the right target audience.”
Ngango also made sure he was at visiting US President Obama’s youth speech at the University of Johannesburg. “I stalked the US embassy until I got the details of the right person to pitch to, to be invited to the event,” he says.
“It was an amazing experience, but it also made me realise that although everyone in my community knows me, I’ve still got a long way to go in terms of national brand building. But that’s okay, I’ll get there. It will just take perseverance. I believe in what I’m doing, and that’s the most important thing. The rest will follow.”
From Student to Student Business. The Story of Student Brands.