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Engen Gave Me The Platform To Chase My True Calling – Former Pump Attendant

From pump attendant to TV producer.

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Being able to share her Women’s Day success story as a pump attendant, working a service station forecourt was never in her life plan. Today however, thanks to the shot Engen gave her when no one else would, Vuyanavo “Vuyi” Mukhari is pursuing her dream career in film and television production.

First Mukhari’s winning smile, professionalism and upbeat demeanour landed her a position as a petrol attendant at an Engen service station in Randburg when she couldn’t secure a job in her chosen field. Later, it was exactly those qualities that caught the attention of a woman influential enough to help Mukhari change everything.

“I became downhearted when I couldn’t get a job after graduating from the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa, especially since I’d worked so hard at a butchery to fund my studies,” recalls 26-year-old Vuyi

“But one day I picked myself up and decided I would get a job, any job, so long as it gave me an income and a reason to get up in the morning.”

Mukhari fought hard for her petrol attendant job, and once she had secured it, she did what she had promised her new bosses and gave the new job her all.

Hardly three months later, she caught the eye of businessperson turned motivational speaker Lerato Ditshego, when she offered to not only fill up her petrol tank, but also to save her a trip into the shop in the cold.

“It was a very cold day in July last year and when she pulled in I gave her my best smile so she would choose my lane. I offered to run into the shop and get her a cup of coffee or anything else she may be needing. She went in herself, but then she asked my name and we got talking,” says Vuyi.

The next day she arrived at work to learn that she and her smile were trending on social media, thanks to Ditshego sharing the news of the graduate who was embracing her service station job, grateful for the chance she had been given.

Related: How Does One Start a Petrol Station in South Africa?

Later, in an interview with Destiny magazine, Ditshego also shared the story, saying that while Vuyi had every reason to feel angry and defeated, she had instead chosen the opposite.

“This young woman was perseverance personified,” she wrote, adding that she was so awed by Vuyi’s positivity that she had taken her details and promised to do what she could to help.

“I shared her story on social media and got an overwhelming response,” Ditshego adds.

Vuyi says she “cried and cried” when she saw her post had 5.7K likes, 3.2K shares and 654 comments and responses.  She had never before felt so validated. Several offers followed, and she accepted a TV production intern position at Advertising giants TBWA Hunt Lascaris in Sandton, where she still works today.

Even though she ended up spending only three months in her petrol forecourt job with Engen, Mukhari is adamant that without the company giving her the initial opportunity, none of her success would have been possible.

“They were reticent about employing me in the job because I was a graduate, and I had to work hard to persuade them that I would be grateful for whatever job I could get. Engen took a chance on me, and provided me with a platform from which I could chase my true calling.

“I will always be grateful for the chance Engen gave me when I was really struggling to get started,” she says.

Unathi Njokweni-Magida, Engen’s head of Transformation and Stakeholder Engagement, says empowerment of black women is a top priority for Engen. And while the company works hard to actively build a pipeline of black and female graduates, they are equally happy to offer a platform from which women can launch themselves into alternate careers where applicable.

“We are committed to education and we would never want to hold someone like Vuyi back from her true calling. We are just grateful to have been part of her journey, and for playing a role in setting her on a path to doing what she is trained to do,” adds Njokweni-Magida.

Vuyi’s Engen colleagues held a farewell celebration for her when she left, eager to see her fulfil her true potential.

“I don’t know where I would have ended up if it wasn’t for Engen. They helped me become the person I am today,” says Vuyi smiling.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

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Entrepreneurs! Now Is The Time To Change Lives And Grow Revenues

All signs point to Africa as the most extraordinary place to be and do business in the future.

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So, how are we going to do business?

This is the question posed by Musa Kalenga, the enthusiastic entrepreneur and strategist who was named one of the Top 200 young South Africans by Mail & Guardian, at a recent Entrepreneurship To The Point Session hosted by Property Point, the Growthpoint Properties initiative.

The answer to doing business that he offers entrepreneurs, even in this digital age, is humanity.

“Humanity is the new black; it is how we are going to be the next powerhouse of this globe,” says Kalenga. “Being human is the one thing that will enable us to survive in the age of augmentation.”

Kalenga is obsessed with using technology to empower the digitally invisible. “We can send people to the moon but we can’t feed people on earth? This is a problem,” he cautions, “because unless we’re making fundamental business model changes, we won’t have a market for the future.”

He took the Entrepreneurship To The Point audience on a journey, highlighting the sweet spot where technology and creativity merge.

Looking at how African entrepreneurs should respond to the age of augmentation, he uses the shocking November 2015 Paris attacks as an example. Facebook activated its Safety Check function, Uber alerted its drivers to take people to safety, and Airbnb operators took in anyone in need.

Related: How To Make (A Lot Of) Money On Airbnb

“While these are tech businesses at their core, they displayed decidedly human responses. They also didn’t have to redo their business model to respond in a more human way,” points out Kalenga. “The technology journey that communities and consumers have to go through must match ours as brand creators, value seekers and entrepreneurs.”

Doing this is simpler than you may think. Technology’s intersection with humanity is all about finding simple, meaningful solutions.

He points to the trend of impact investment – an approach taken by some of the world’s richest family businesses. Impact investment means finding opportunities that are solving human-centred problems and creating value for the humans that we seek to serve, and then figuring out how to make revenue as a business. Essentially, it puts doing good before making money. This is where humanity, technology and entrepreneurship are on course to meet and power the extraordinary future of business in Africa.

“Human beings are at the top of the food chain because we can understand a small and simple thing, then develop it for different purposes all the time. Also, because we can rally around common cause and purpose. Enhancing quality of life in the way people experience technology is key to continuing to solve problems, not only in Africa but across the globe,” concludes Kalenga

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Futureproofing The Next Generation Of Entrepreneurs

Futureproof – a business built on purpose.

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The South African labour market remains vulnerable, particularly in the youth employment sector. While there is a call for more entrepreneurs, further support for SMME’s and increased youth employment by government, the youth of today lack the skills, knowledge and opportunities to answer to the call.

Riddled by poverty and unemployment, South Africa remains a country in crisis. With more than 3.3 million* unemployed youths, entrepreneurship has been highlighted to eradicate our unemployment woes; here’s the catch though: a recent study on education depicted the effect that poor education has had on entrepreneurs, who are largely ill-equipped to run their own businesses as a result. (Businesslive.co.za (2017)).

Getting youths to grips with entrepreneurship

By combining a background in education and entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial educationalist, speaker, radio presenter, mother of two and all-round go-getter, Lisa Illingworth co-founded Futureproof to educate youths from as young as primary school on real-life entrepreneurship.

Related: Kid Entrepreneurs Who Have Already Built Successful Businesses (And How You Can Too)

As an ex-teacher, Lisa recognised a serious need for educating children on the practical application and art of entrepreneurship to create a generation of informed, thriving youths. “Young adults in the 21st century are entering the working world equipped with knowledge and skills that are irrelevant for the workplace,” explains Lisa.

Futureproof is built on an unwavering commitment to entrepreneurship as a mechanism for intervening in the poverty cycle that our youths are caught up in. “I don’t want to watch another generation driven by poor education standards, self-entitlement and helplessness”.

Lisa believes that entrepreneurs possess qualities that each of us can aspire to in order to take charge of our own futures: they identify a problem or a gap and create a service or a product to solve this problem and generate a flow of money. “Their tenacity is something that few can relate to. Entrepreneurs sacrifice short-term gain to deliver a long-term solution and derive an income from their efforts and passion. Nothing comes easy to an entrepreneur, so persistence is key” she emphasizes.

In a country where many simply admit defeat, Lisa and her team believes that possessing an entrepreneurial mindset can set our youths apart and accelerate them in the working world. “Futureproof exists with a massive transformative purpose to educate the future generation of entrepreneurs,” explains Lisa.  “We aim to identify and grow the 5% of high impact entrepreneurs that will create the much-needed economic transformation that this country requires but organically, this process allows kids to learn how to create their own income opportunities” Lisa continues.

Futureproof – for purpose, for profit

Today, Futureproof is a “for purpose, for profit” business. We sacrifice neither. “This business is built on a model that was based on authentically practicing what we teach. Many social enterprises default to a charity and this business is unapologetically not a charity. We teach kids to build sustainable enterprises and we mirror this through the way we do business”.

Related: The Ultimate 101 List Of Business Ideas To Start Your Own Business In South Africa

Futureproof provides kids the opportunity to craft their own futures by applying the entrepreneurial skills gained in their real-life situations. “By instilling an entrepreneurial mindset, we look to cultivate a generation of hungry entrepreneurs who are able to identify and build-on opportunities. Our courses teach problem solving at the highest level to the youngest kids, and we have seen some amazing success stories come out of this in kids as young as eight years old”.

At its helm, Lisa says that Futureproof’s Board of Directors is made up of some of the country’s top business minds – a team driven by passion and purpose. “We attract incredible people in business and for this reason I am pleased to be surrounded by top women in their respective fields such as S’onqoba Maseko and Chairperson of our Board of Directors (previous head of innovation for FNB and now the COO of Future Nations Schools) and Masenyane Molefe – our Human Resources Specialist and HR Director of Hyundai South Africa.

For more information on Futureproof’s programmes and how to get involved, visit: www.futureproofsa.com

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Nedbank Brings Silicon Valley’s Plug And Play To Africa In Disruption First For The Continent

Nedbank launches The Disruption Agenda to connect the best technology start-ups to major corporations and business leaders.

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Nedbank announced today the expansion of their US partnership with Plug and Play, the world’s largest innovation platform, to include South Africa for the first time.

Together, the entities will connect 10 visionary entrepreneurs from around the world to business leaders at The Disruption Agenda to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa in September.

These startups are at the leading edge of digital transformation. They have been accelerated via the Plug and Play platform and identified as relevant disruptors to solving cross-sector business challenges at a corporate level within the local market.

“Nedbank recognises that building an innovation strategy at a corporate level can present a number of significant challenges. To help corporate leaders, we have structured The Disruption Agenda, a first of its kind event on the continent, to simplify how corporates connect to world-class start-ups,” shares Stuart van der VeenHead of Disruption and Innovation at Nedbank Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB).

“The problem is that innovative thinking is too often limited to finding new ways of doing old things, when what businesses really need to set themselves apart is to find completely new things to do. And that’s where the successful integration of disruptive technology can be an unparalleled source of comprehensive transformation for any business.”

Related: AutoTrader South Africa’s George Mienie Knows Disruptive Innovation Is More Than Shifting Gears

Nedbank’s participation in Plug and Play’s FinTech accelerator programme abroad supports its commitment to source innovative digital enhancements to meet the changing needs of its clients.  Nedbank has sponsored Play and Play’s Fintech initiative for close on two years and for each of the four batches that Nedbank has been involved in, the bank’s teams actively engaged with the start-ups to source new ideas and partnerships with the aim of delivering delightful client experiences and disruptive client value propositions.

“Our partnership with Nedbank has given our start-ups a successful route to expand their business to South Africa,” said Max Koenig, Director of Plug and Play FinTech, Silicon Valley. “The CIB group, responsible for innovation within Nedbank, has been instrumental in sourcing start-ups to digitally transform their company.”

The Disruption Agenda is a closed event structured for Nedbank’s clients, while a public event for broader access to Plug and Play is envisioned to take place later in the year. The success of these engagements will form the basis of Plug and Play’s decision to accelerate plans to establish a permanent presence in Africa.

“The opportunity in Africa as a whole is endless and we view this event in September as an integral first step for opening and developing an Innovation Hub in South Africa in 2019” noted Saeed Amidi, Founder & CEO of Plug and Play.

“We believe that successful disruptors are those organisations that are able to see through their traditional functions and create new realities for their clients and businesses. In the process of transforming innovation thinkers to disruption leaders, these organisations have real potential to transform the economic reality of entire communities,” shares Van der Veen.

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