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Anamazing: Isabelle Rorke & Dumisania Gumbi

A Local animation company is bringing homegrown tales to our screens

Monique Verduyn

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Isabelle Rorke & Dumisania Gumbi of Anamazing

Against a tide of children’s entertainment that is becoming increasingly violent and aggressive, South Africa’s first black-owned animation company, Anamazing, is producing content that seeks to capture South Africa’s own cultural heritage and to expose children to a wealth of local folktales and heroes.Creative producer Isabelle Rorke and executive producer Dumisani Gumbi founded the company in 2000. “We had three great animation ideas – one being a black, female, dreadlocked superhero fighting for conservation – and enough cash to keep us going for a few months,” Rorke recalls.

After qualifying as a journalist, she edited a children’s conservation magazine and then moved into broadcast journalism, producing SABC2’s Morning Live. “It was then that I realised my two great loves were communicating with children and broadcasting,” she says. “My goal was to find a way to combine the two.”Gumbi too came from a publishing background, having been the managing editor of a literary magazine in the US. On his return to South Africa he worked in film and television, producing an animated children’s series on Shaka Zulu.When the two met up, they saw that there was huge scope for growing the animation industry in the country and creating jobs at the same time.

“As we started developing our business plan, it became apparent that it would take some time to educate government, funders and the public about what animation meant and what possibilities it presented,” says Rorke. With no access to funding, the two put their publishing experience to good use and set up a design division that functioned as a cash cow to get the animation side of the business up and running. They continued to work and kept the business going in the background for six months, until they landed their first big contract.

The design division expanded rapidly, building big cash reserves and enabling them to buy a liquidated animation business in 2002.“The company’s growth has been completely organic,” says Rorke. “We had no debt when we started it and no heavy expenses. I remember that we had R20 000 to keep us going until we brought in the first client.”Today, Anamazing is an R8-million business that is working with the likes of the SABC and Ster-Kinekor. Rorke and Gumbi are now on an investment drive and are approaching organisations like the IDC, Thebe Investment Corporation, and Umsobomvu Youth Fund.

Rorke has devoted much time to marketing and PR over the years but, she says, one of the company’s best moves was the establishment of its skills development programme which has been systematically addressing the dearth of local animation expertise. “We find talented artists from disadvantaged communities, bring them into our internship programme and train them. This has been mutually beneficial, enabling us to create capacity as well as develop skills – at first, we only had the ability to do commercials, but we now have sufficient resources to do longer-form animation. The programme has been so successful that we are supplying talent to the entire industry.” One of the advantages of animation – as opposed to live action – is that it opens up additional revenue streams.

“Locally, film distribution channels have yet to be properly developed, a factor that hinders local productions,” she says. “The great thing about animated films, however, is the licensing and merchandising opportunity. This includes things like music CDs and plush toys, which bring in additional income.” Rorke is passionate about the ability of animation to record South African stories and provide enriching education for children. “Kids are becoming increasingly detached from their various cultures; because it is both entertaining and educational, animation can help to incorporate our own local values and norms back into their lives. It detaches viewers from reality but, at the same time, enables discussion about issues that are relevant in an entertaining way.”

Anamazing plans to expand into Africa and to harness a variety of fresh ideas and styles into its formula. “Our aim now is the Africanisation of the imagery we use in our animation,” notes Rorke. “Different cultures have diverse animation styles. As Africans we need to find our own.”

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.

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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.

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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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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

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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.

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“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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