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AM Communications: Ayanda Mbanga

Advertising entrepreneur builds her brand on relationships, not transactions.



Ayanda Mbanga of AM Communications

Ayanda Mbanga Communications (AM Comms)specialises exclusively in recruitment advertising. Now in its 11th year, it’sone of the fastest-growing, award-winning, BEE compliant companies in South Africaand winner of 20 recruitment advertising awards. That’s quite an achievement, but thenMD Ayanda Mbanga, has a unique talent – understanding the art of branding whichshe says is the key to producing captivating and successful recruitmentadvertising for her stable of blue-chip clients.


A Rhodes Universityjournalism graduate, Mbanga gained practical experience and hands-on know-howabout writing recruitment advertising while at globally renowned agency Saatchi& Saatchi. It was there that she learnt aboutLovemarks, a marketing technique which is a strong influence in her life. Theconcept was invented by Kevin Roberts, CEO Worldwide of Saatchi & Saatchi.His premise is that loyalty to a brand should go, “beyond normal reason”, it’swhy customers pay more for a particular brand when there is a cheaperequivalent. According to Roberts, great brands infiltrate your life and youridentity. It’s that life-long love affair thing again. That’s why he stillshaves with a Gillette Sensor and will fight anyone for the last Steinlager inthe fridge. In 2006, Saatchi & Saatchi won a $430 million JC Penneycontract because of the idea of Lovemarks. Mbanga herself embraces the threeelements that have made Lovemarks so successful – mystery, sensuality andintimacy, but this affinity doesn’t stop there – she applies these elements toher business model.

Seeingthe gap

During her five-year stay at the agencyshe saw a gap in the market and decided to go out on her own. “At that timethere was a lot of change in the air,” Mbanga says. “It was 1998 andaffirmative action, women in the workplace and BEE were all very topical. Atthe same time, however, employer brands needed to be built up in the eyes ofprospective candidates looking for employment. Recruitment advertising was ripefor change.”

Thehardest part

The most difficult thing Mbanga had toface was building credibility in the market place. “I was fortunate because Ihad seed capital of a different kind in the form of seed clients,” she says. “It was this base and support fromSaatchi & Saatchi that helped me develop the reputation I needed. We havehad an annual growth of 25% to 30% with media billings in 2007 in excess ofR100 million. Things have slowed down a bit this year, but that’sunderstandable considering the economic climate at the moment.”

Another key to success comes from thefact that the company derives its income from media commissions rather thanclient billing. “Naturally, the more our clients spend the more commission wemake,” Mbanga notes.The business has evolved to includeother services such as employer brand management, media buying and call centremanagement. “In these areas we are paid directly by the clients. We help themto deal with responses emanating from an ad we have generated. We co-ordinateinitial short listing or paper screening, sort them and submit the responses tothe client, all in the interests of speed. Search and selection is a process weundertake via our associates, while e-recruitment sets up career websites forclients to enable candidates to apply direct via the website.”

Attitudepays off

AM Comms’ success is the result of hardwork and ensuring that the basics are in place: the best possible service,attention to detail and enthusiasm. “Many people have dreams andexpectations about owning their own business, but I have to admit that all theclichés out there apply. You will be successful if you are sure you can betough, if you can sit out the difficult times, if you have a burning passionfor what you do and the right attitude. Every day I repeat my favourite sayingwhich keeps me going: ‘Haeyo kgomo yaboroko’ – you can’t get a cow bysleeping.”

  • Company: Ayanda Mbanga Communications
  • Player: Ayanda Mbanga
  • Est: 1998
  • Contact: +27 11 234 6041,

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25 Of The Most Successful Business Ideas In South Africa

Find out who’s making waves in numerous industries and how they managed to differentiate themselves in local and international industries.

Nicole Crampton



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“Disruption is all about risk-taking, trusting your intuition, and rejecting the way things are supposed to be. Disruption goes way beyond advertising, it forces you to think about where you want your brand to go and how to get there,” says Richard Branson.

South Africa has its fair share of innovative and disruptive businesses taking both local and international industries by storm. From cutting edge space technology to reimagined logistics, and innovative business models, here are 25 of the most successful business ideas in South Africa:

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Colin Timmis Says ‘Position Yourself For Success By Starting With The Numbers’

People pay first who they feel pressure from, so people will pay you when they feel pressure from you.






Entrepreneur Colin Timmis founded South Africa’s first cloud accounting practice in 2011, Real Time Accounting. Then, a few years after being appointed as South Africa’s first Xero partner Colin became Xero Country Manager South Africa. Xero is the emerging global leader of online accounting software that connects small businesses to their advisors and other services.

Related: Pat Pillai On How He’s Helped Over 5000 Entrepreneurs Using 3 Key Steps

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Company Posts

Two 20 Year Olds Reshape Entrepreneur Landscape With New Social Investment Platform

The Merge vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

Merge Connect




Vital Stats

It’s no secret that finding the right investor for your venture is a challenge that most entrepreneurs face. The current process of finding investment is one that is outdated, and limits entrepreneurs due to a lack of time, and network that is needed to find the right investor. But, this doesn’t have to be the case in today’s digital society, says Zander Matthee and Brandon Bate, co-founders of Merge.

“By making the Internet the middleman, we are able to connect with each other much simpler and faster than before” was Zander’s response. “We have taken advantage of this, and have created a digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors” added Brandon.

Merge is a social platform that connects entrepreneurs and investors. It aims to simplify, refine and accelerate the process of finding investment for entrepreneurs, and the process of finding investment opportunities for investors. From idea to developed, the platform allows entrepreneurs to present a brief outline of their venture to a network of all investor types. While doing this, entrepreneurs are able to browse through, and connect with investor profiles that suit their requirements.

Related: 8 Codes Of Success That Helped Priven Reddy of Kagiso Interactive Media Achieve A Networth Of Over R4 Billion

From Private Investors to Venture Capital, and everything in between, Merge allows all investor types to join. Investors have the opportunity to personalise their feed to suit their investment preferences, and will be able to connect with innovative businesses – that are looking for investment – at their fingertips. Only once there is a mutual interest in each other, are users able to enter a secure private chat where they can discuss further and share documents under the protection of a digital NDA.

The two boys became good friends during their time in high school at St Stithians Boys College. However, it was only in their last year, 2016, that they decided to pursue their dreams and create the platform. They didn’t know how to code, so rather ironically, they needed some form of investment to get the platform off the ground.


“We knew we had a mountain to climb, but we believed in our vision and that we were really trying to make a difference, and if we could get others to see that, they would be onboard.” said Zander.

Related: Lessons From The Rich And Famous: Manage Your Money Like Oprah To Avoid Going Into Debt Like Nicholas Cage

Chris Peters is one of these individuals that bought into their vision, and became Merge’s first investor. As a successful entrepreneur and part time investor , Chris saw how much value the platform could bring to all entrepreneurs and investors alike. His marketing and strategic background gave him insight into how Merge could play a vital role in a lucrative space, Brand involvement.

“Entrepreneurship and SME development are two key factors that drive economic growth in developing countries like South Africa. That is why brands are currently getting involved, and looking to support entrepreneurs through various means. We have built a platform that allows these brands to successfully market, and execute on the programmes they have created to assist entrepreneurs.” said Chris

Merge was created to assist all entrepreneurs and investors in finding exactly what they are looking for, regardless of age, race, sex, financial position or social status. That is why anybody can sign-up as an entrepreneur. As long as you are determined and willing to work for your dreams. For too long has the investor space been seen as an “elite club for the select few”, and Merge is here to change that. Whether you’ve gotten your bonus at the end of the year and looking for new investment opportunities, or are an active investor, you can sign-up. Whether you’re currently working, or a retired industry leader, you can join as a mentor.

Their vision is to become the ‘go to’, digital meeting place for entrepreneurs and investors, and to truly make a difference in the world.

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