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Fray Intermedia: Paula Fray

A business built on strengthening the voice of African media

Monique Verduyn



Paula Fray of Fray Intermedia

The first thing Paula Fray does as she comes flying into her office is arrange a caffeine fix. It’s mid-morning and the hyperactive media trainer has already overseen a session at the Institute for the Advancement of Journalism.

Fray, founder of Paula Fray &Associates – now Fray Intermedia – is also regional director for the Africa office of Inter Press Service (IPS), an organisation that produces stories which explain how events affect poor individuals and communities.

The former editor of the Saturday Star was named investigative journalist of the year in 1991, is a Nieman Fellow, and has been acknowledged as one of South Africa’s women leaders. It was her passion for journalism, fuelled in part by her time at Harvard, which set her on her mission to improve the quality of journalism on the continent. Part of her success is also a result of her commitment to working with women entrepreneurs.

“When I started out as an independent trainer, I came across many other women who were working on their own, in areas like public relations, event management and project management,” says Fray.“The one thing we had in common was that we could not take on big jobs, which meant that we lurched from feast to famine. We decided to pull together to make sure we could take on large contracts when they came up.”

Fray Intermedia’s core business, however,has never changed. “To improve journalistic standards, you have to recognise that journalism differs from other crafts in that it is very dynamic; the skills a journalist has today are soon outdated.” Her company sets itself apart from the more staid, traditional schools of journalism by keeping abreast of the changes that impact the newsroom.

One example is the narrative journalism conference, hosted by Fray Intermedia in partnership with the NiemanFoundation. Narrative journalism blends reporting with story telling, making it an apposite medium for the relaying of African stories.

Now in its fourth year,the conference is the only event of its kind that the Nieman Foundation participates in outside the US. “My intention was never to build a company that made huge profits,” Fray notes. “It was more about finding a business model that would enable me to give free rein to my love for journalism.

It’s vital for any entrepreneur to be able to articulate their goal; that is what gives you the courage to pull through the hard times when the cash flow dries up.” Fray was cautious when it came to growing the business. “It grew as the income grew. I did not take out any loans, and I paid cash for everything. I did not want to start out by owing people money.”

From the start she made sure that the business complied with all regulations. She also outsourced the finance side of things to a bookkeeper, not wanting to be bogged down by something which was not her core skill. Now with a turnover of R4 million, Fray Intermedia has grown by word of mouth. “That’s great because it means the company is sustainable. It also means we have retained many clients, which is far cheaper than having to go out there and find new ones.” Contact: +27 11 341 0767;

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+.


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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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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