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Nefertiti Communications: Unathi Memela

A natural networker draws on her strengths to grow a differentiated publicity company.

Juliet Pitman



Unathi Memela of Neferttiti Communications

Intheir book Now, Discover Your Strengths, Marcus Buckingham and Donald Cliftonposit a simple idea: people perform at their best when they’re playing to theirstrengths. The authors also dispute the idea that any person can learn almostany skill and that a person’s greatestroom for growth lies in their areas of weakness. Everybody, they say, has a setof innate strengths and if they recognise and harness these they will enjoygreater success than if they were to expend their energy on trying to improvetheir areas of weakness. But, the authors say, because our society is obsessedwith weaknesses, most people take their strengths for granted and don’t developthem. So less than two out of ten people really harness their strengths.

Working thecontacts

UnathiMemela is among this tiny percentage. Early on she realised that something shedid naturally – networking with people – was a natural strength she couldharness to build a successful business. “I initially went to hotel school but Iwas always in trouble because I was always talking to people when I wasn’tsupposed to be,” she comments. Realising her career path lay in other areas,she went on to film school. “I got to know a lot of musicians and actors andI’d advise them about their media and how to promote themselves. It took awhile but it soon dawned on me that I was good at it and I could charge peopleto do it,” she says.

Finding aniche

Inrecognising her ability to connect with people, Memela hit on what was tobecome a successful business idea. Today she runs Nefertiti Communications andlists a host of local music artists and soccer stars in her talent / publicitymanagement stable, she has also done corporate videos for numerous governmentdepartments and produced the now well-known United Nations ‘Voices ofTolerance’ counter-xenophobia radio campaign. Thebusiness is currently divided into corporate communications, talent management/ publicity and TV production, but lately Memela has realised the importance oftargeting a niche audience. “I see a real gap in the South African market forpublicity / talent management. In this country, it hasn’t really developed as aserious industry in the way that it has in the United States for example, and Isee real potential in developing a comprehensive, strategic publicity serviceoffering,” she says.

Looking forgrowth

Witha host of local celebrities on her books, she’d also like to explore growthopportunities in Africa. “The market is wideopen there. There is definitely money to be made – just think about the boomingNigerian film and music industry. And in South Africa we are at an advantage because, relative to therest of Africa, we’re developed and haveaccess to the tools and expertise to make publicity work,” she says. Oneof Memela’s key challenges lies in convincing prospective clients thatpublicity management involves more than simply making a phone call to book aslot on a radio show. “Very often people don’t realise that your network ofcontacts is a valuable asset that not everyone has. They also don’t see thereal strategic value that you’re adding in managing their publicity. They don’tsee that it’s not just about getting their name out there into any publicspace, and that strategic consideration goes into managing their public imageand reputation,” she explains.

Doing itdifferently

Onthat point, she admits that the publicity industry is partly to blame for suchprevailing perceptions. “There is a general practice in the industry ofbombarding a massive group of people with information about a client. Manypractitioners believe that the only way to cut through the information overloadis to add to it, which is quite strange. More is not better. The most effectivecommunication involves providing a highly targeted group of people informationthat is relevant to them, not only relevant to the artist or celebrity you’repromoting,” she explains. Ofcourse to do that you have to develop an intimate knowledge of your database,of their likes and dislikes, of what will strike a chord with them. But, to getback to our original point, that’s Memela’s particular talent: “I love talkingto people. I love finding out about what makes them, as individuals, tick.Sure, I use it to the advantage of my business, but you know something, itreally doesn’t feel like work.”

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Unathi Memela

    Aug 13, 2011 at 20:57

    a friendly reminder to self. yes you can:)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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