Busisiwe Mpembe builds a bright future in construction

Busisiwe Mpembe is the last born of 6 children. She grew up in a small farming town in the Free State called Heilbron. She studied a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management at Wits University, under the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment. Later, she did her honours part time in Construction Management at the University of the Free State faculty of  Natural and Agricultural Science. Busisiwe has been serving on the South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP) Construction Management Development Committee for 6 years. She has founded organisations such as CIOB Novus and Chix with Brix. Both organisations aimed at bridging the gap and driving transformation. She has also had the opportunity to serve on numerous student bodies including the SRC at Wits University.   Currently, she is an entrepreneur in the construction and property space. She is also serving as the Executive Chairman of a research based NPO The Construction Management Foundation. Her two greatest qualities are her passion and confidence. She says, “Everything starts from within. People are drawn to those that exude confidence. Confidence brings about trust from others and once you can consistently display it, you can get everything you desire. Fake it till you make it!”

Read and be encouraged by her journey through university:

  1. What does education mean to you?

Education is the most crucial thing for any black child. Education is how we prove that we deserve a seat at the table. Education helps us become critical thinkers, it gives us confidence and gives us hope that our lives will be better than those that came before us.

  1. Why did you choose to go into the field you have chosen?

Construction was a pure calling. I didn’t even do science in high school and it was a requirement to get into the programme. I had applied for Accounting Science and Actuarial Science but my Maths HG marks were not impressive at all (57%). My 3rd choice was Construction Management because I was rushing to complete my application, I heard Tokyo Sexwale talking about construction on TV in the background and I chose construction as a 3rd and final option. I had only applied to Wits University because I felt that that was the university that would give me the best access to the future leaders of this country. By some miracle I was accepted to do Construction Management and 2 months into the year I knew that it was the degree I was meant to study. 

  1. How does your course of study help you in fulfilling the calling over your life? If you believe in a calling.

Perfectly so. I’ve even coined a phrase “Construction Managers don’t save lives, they make life worth living”. The ability to give people dignity starts with access to basic infrastructure. Proper infrastructure makes life comfortable, it makes life worth living. Professionals in the built environment can contribute immensely to ensuring service delivery to the majority of the country.

  1. There is no smooth academic journey, what are some of the obstacles that you’ve had to overcome? How did you overcome them?

I was always a 51% specialist. I didn’t do science in high school so having to do physics in 1st year was a nightmare. I ended up repeating Physics and that motivated me to get a tutor in order to perform better. It took me 5 years to complete my 3-year degree and what I did was ensure that I work on gaining experience outside of the classroom so that it was not a complete waste. Always look for the lesson and the light at the end of the tunnel. Lie to yourself if need be. I had to tell myself that I don’t have a 3 year degree after 5 years but I have a degree and 2 years’ experience so I walked into every space confident.  

  1. Has your upbringing affected your academic journey in anyway?

I was raised by teachers who understood the importance of education so they went above and beyond for me and all my siblings. They were always supportive and paid for everything including supplementary exams. I owe my qualifications to them. The support was not only financial. They gave me advice on how to build my character so that I can reach greater heights.

  1. There are students who didn’t get DP (entry requirement to be able to write an exam) for some of their modules. They are feeling discouraged. How would you advise them in this exam season?

 It happens to the best of us. I didn’t get DP for a Property Valuation in my Honours year. It was a heart-breaking moment but I took it as an opportunity to go back to the drawing board. I consulted with the lecturer a lot the following year and formed a study group. Sometimes in life we need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable in order to achieve what is meant for us.

  1. Fear is one of the biggest hindrances to success. How did you get over the fear of asking for help when you didn’t understand the work you were studying?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           I tried to find those that I trusted and felt comfortable with in class because getting a tutor was not always affordable. There was also assistance at res so I went to the warden privately to ask for assistance.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  2. Quotes are motivation for a lot of students. Do you have any quote which has kept you going in your journey? And who is it by?

 I relate to most quotes by Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook. My favourite being, “Leadership belongs to those who take it!”

  1. Would you recommend group studying?

 I would. That teaches soft skills that aren’t taught in the classroom. Furthermore, you either learn a lot or you get the ability to teach someone something they hadn’t covered or fully understood. Either of the two are great for your confidence going into exams.  

  1. How did you get over procrastination and exam stress?

I always reminded myself why I was walking the path I am and I got to a point where I believed that being lazy means I am letting myself down and not keeping the promises I’ve made to my God. Exam stress is minimized by talking to those who have been in your shoes and getting advise on the papers you are about to write. Speak out! Never suffer in silence

  1. In summary, what words would you like to extend to students writing exams?

They need to keep their eye on the prize and give it their all. They must not waste this opportunity but also remember that God’s timing is everything. It is not about when you finish with studies, it is about IF you finish.


All the best to all those writing exams. Thank you Busisiwe for the words of encouragement.


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Siyabonga from Kwa-Mashu bags a Cum-Laude for his Mathematical Statistics degree

Siyabonga Mbonambi was born and bred in Kwa-Mashu in Durban. He is the last born of 5 children and was raised by his mother. He holds a Bcom in Economics & Statistics and a Bcom Honours Mathematical Statistics degree both achieved with Cum Laude from the department of Statistics at Nelson Mandela University (NMU). He has been recognised by Allan Gray during the year 2015 and 2016 for being amongst the top 20% in his undergraduate faculty at NMU . Currently he is working within the Retail and Business Bank space at one of the top financial institutions in Johannesburg.  Read more about Siya’s journey through university and get some motivation for your exam preparations below:

Siyabonga Mbonambi graduating at Nelson Mandela University

  1. What does education mean to you?

Education to me is a journey, an unending process which does not only entail the acquisition of knowledge but also the acquisition of skills, values, beliefs, behaviour and the meaning of being alive. Education does not mean school. Education is a mental muscle trainer which is obtained correctly, can assist in one’s daily life and enable one to think holistically rather than one ‘dimensionally’. Education is about critical thinking and encouraging our minds to take something that is being said and to look at it in a different way.

  1. Why did you choose to go into Statistics?

It’s the recognition of my strengths, I believe that I am numerically strong and I enjoy solving problems involving numbers. I enjoyed mathematics and accounting more than other subjects in high school. Another reason which made me choose Statistics was because I wanted to take the “road not taken”. At the time, when I was in high school I did not know anyone that took Mathematics as a career choice and so I wanted to take that route. 

     3.  Seeing that you chose the right course of study for you, do you think it’s possible for someone to be in the wrong field of study?

Yes, the ability of being able to study and finish a course does not necessarily reflect that it is where you should be and that it is what you should have done. I think a metric which could be used to evaluate this is to ask yourself this question – in the absence of monetary benefits of the chosen field of study, would you still pursue it? Some people are studying their family’s chosen course and not theirs. Finding out what it is that you want to study (if you want to study) has to do a lot with finding yourself and answering the question of who am I.

     4. What would you say to that person who is experiencing depressing thoughts because they feel they are in the wrong field of study bearing in mind exams are around the corner? How would you motivate them?

My honest advice if someone feels as if they have taken the wrong course would be to initially stick it out, do not make extreme decisions driven by emotions. It is already towards the end of the semester, hold on to the pressure and go write and pass those exams. During the December vacation, introspect, seek advice from those who have walked in the phase of being at University/College and someone that understands the pressure that the course comes with. You are where you are in your life at this moment for a reason – keep a positive mind-set, it is okay to feel like you have had enough of the course that you do not enjoy. I would advise that the ability of being able to change your perspective (how you view the course) might change the feeling you might have currently. Sometimes you think you hate the course whereas really you hate going to class or don’t like the lecturing style of a certain lecturer- learn to distinguish between those. Seek counselling. You have started already, it’s almost over, hold on. If you enjoy the course and it has been what you have always wanted to do but you are currently failing, do not change. Failure is part of life, it is how we learn from failure that adds value in us growing and making it through life. Life is not a smooth ride. If today was very difficult for you to study, it is okay. Rest, go to bed. Try again, with a positive attitude of “I am going to make it tomorrow”.

       5. There is no smooth academic journey, what are some of the obstacles that you’ve had to overcome? How did you overcome them?

One of the major obstacles which I have had to overcome was to shy away from people who were always complaining about how difficult the course was. That energy was killing my drive. I started associating more with positive friends who were like minded and wanted the same things. I watched motivational videos online to help me keep and maintain focus. In my 1st and 2nd year, food was a major concern, it altered my ability of wanting to study. Fortunately enough for me, my friends were also going through the same and so the gathering of funds as a group really did help us because it meant that we could get an increased amount of food and an improved quality as well. I got to university thinking that I was the big shot, I am smart, because of this, this hindered me in asking for help from either peers or lecturers, which hit me really hard when I would not understand a certain concept. I had a pride issue and I realised that after failing my first semester test in a course that I thought I knew. From there I realised that I cannot do this on my own, I need help and hence the formation of various study groups which really improved my academic performance.

      6. Has your upbringing affected your academic journey in anyway? If you feel it limited you in anyway, how did you move past those boundaries?

My background has been the one sole motivator of where I am today. Coming from a location, like many other locations, characterised by teenage drug abuse, teenage pregnancy, heavy levels of crimes made me fight really hard in getting out of such an environment. My neighbourhood does not have many role models that progressed and became successful in life through by taking the academic route and for me that fueled me. I wanted to change the status quo and inspire the younger guys coming after me to show them that a career choice in a mathematically inclined field is possible.   My struggles growing up in Kwa-Mashu became motivation for me to pursue a better life, a greater life and an improved standard of living for my family and I.


We thank Siyabonga for taking time to talk to us and we wish all the students the best during this exam season. You are more than capable. Breath in and out, take it one day at a time. Share this article and follow us for more motivation on our social media platforms. 

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Dr Tshepiso Choma shares how she made a success from studying a degree in medicine

Dr Tshepiso Choma grew up in the township of Soweto in a loving family consisting of her very supportive parents, a younger brother and an older sister. She studied a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery at the University of Pretoria in the faculty of health sciences. She graduated in 2014 and since then she served two years of internship at Chris Hani Baragwaneth. This was a lifelong dream of hers to work in one of the most pivotal hospitals in her township and in the continent and serve her one-year community service at Pretoria West District Hospital. Since her graduation she obtained several certifications including certificates in Basic Life Support, Advanced Cardiac Life Support and Paediatric Advanced Life Support. She also completed a course in complicated HIV and HIV resistance management. She is currently working at Steve Biko Academic Hospital in the department of Medical Oncology and her hope is to specialise to become a Clinical Oncologist. She says the greatest contributor to her success is her Christian Faith. Read more about how Dr Choma navigated through university and managed to make a success of her exams below:


              Dr Choma and her husband, Mr Marvin Choma

  1. What does education mean to you?

Education is the single most important aspect in my life as I have seen how it has changed not only the trajectory of my life but the benefit to my community and the legacy to my family. Being one of the few people to attend university in my maternal family has been one of the greatest honours I have achieved and the pride my family have in me is a constant reminder to keep striving to do more. I believe that a quality, comprehensive education is the one gift that every child deserves to have and its one of my future aspirations to be involved in changing the landscape of basic education in poorly resourced areas.


  1. Why did you choose to go into medicine?

My role models growing up were Mother Theresa and the philanthropist, theologian and missionary doctor Dr Albert Schweitzer.  They were the quintessential examples for me of individuals who, through their faith and skills in medicine, were able to touch the lives of many not only spiritually but more importantly physically. Since then I decided that the one way I could best serve humanity was through the ministry of healing. That’s how I chose to do medicine, it was really a way for me to feel closer to God and to feel I had a purpose.


  1. Looking back do you feel you medicine was the right choice?

Many times I felt overwhelmed by the length of my studies ( a very long 6 years with an additional 4-5 years to specialise) and when I started working, the environment was demotivating because of the lack of resources, hard hours and strenuous nature of the work. But despite all that I am happy that I have the academic background I have and I have grown to appreciate what I can still do with my degree.


  1. Do you think it’s possible for someone to be in the wrong field of study?

Absolutely, but I also think that it is never too late to change your field of study or go back and to study something completely different. Forging a career isn’t only about the degree you study, but it’s also about your experiences, how you see your life in future and how you develop the impact you feel you want to make in the world. Some of the people I respect most highly are those who were not limited by what they studied and those who expanded, changed or grew from the fields they had studied. One such personal icon is Dr Mamphela Ramphele who obtained a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) from the University of Natal then a B.Comm. in Administration from the University of South Africa amongst other meritorious qualifications. With these qualifications from vastly different fields she managed to hold prestigious positions from being the first black female vice chancellor of a South African university (a position she held at the University of Cape Town) to becoming the first South African to hold the position of one of the four Managing Directors of the World Bank. A medical doctor becoming the head of the biggest financial institution is evidence enough that your field of study need not limit the potential of your success.


  1. What would you say to that person who is experiencing those depressing thoughts because they feel they are in the wrong field of study bearing in mind exams have started or are around the corner? How would you motivate them?

I would motivate them to continue with all the strength they have and complete their studies. No matter what challenges they face in their current studies they will always encounter other challenges despite whichever field they may change to. In essence nothing is ever going to be easy but persevering and completing what you start gives you a platform to grow and to have access to greater opportunities. Also failing a module, subject or year is not a marker of their intelligence or future potential; it’s an opportunity to recognise their weaknesses and to focus on improving them. There is no ideal time to finish any course so forget the pressure. Do your best and be willing to dust yourself up and try again. A persevering spirit always prevails.


  1. There is no smooth academic journey, what are some of the obstacles that you’ve had to overcome? How did you overcome them?

My greatest obstacle was funding throughout my tertiary studies, so to support myself I spent three years of my degree working as a waitress and assisting in the university’s skill lab. Although, my studies sometimes suffered because of the extra hours I was putting in to work; I kept on persevering despite and managed to make it.


  1. Has your upbringing affected your academic journey in anyway? If you feel it limited you in anyway, how did you move past those boundaries?

Yes, I am grateful my parents believed in education and supported me as much as they did throughout my journey. Despite the financial limitations I sometimes may have faced, the support of my family emotionally allowed me to look past the difficulties.


  1. Time management is imperative in a student’s life. How did you manage your time between exams? Especially, if they were close to each other.

I always have a study schedule planned well before exam season! I treated every day like it was exam season right from the beginning of the year to spread the work out evenly and I worked consistently every day instead of trying to squeeze everything into a very short exam period. A little work done every single day (yes, even weekends) goes a really long way.


  1. Fear is one of the biggest hindrances to success. How did you get over the fear of asking for help when you didn’t understand the work you were studying?

For me fear is very similar to pride and the only way to overcome that fear was to be humble. For as long as you hold the pride that you don’t want people to think you are a failure or stupid, you won’t get the help you need. One of my favourite Chinese proverbs reads: “a man who asks a question is a fool for five minutes, but a man who does not ask a question remains a fool forever”. These words have always stuck with me so be willing to humble yourself and admit your shortcomings so that you can gain true wisdom.


  1. Quotes are motivation for a lot of students. Do you have any quote which has kept you going in your journey? And who is it by?

This isn’t really a quote but a latin mantra that I live my life by: “Age quod agis”- it means “do what you are doing”. What this really means is that no matter how small or big or insignificant a task may seem you should do it with inspiration and dedication. I love that because it speaks to work ethic- always do your best and give your all into everything, even to things that don’t bring merit, honour or recognition. You never know when your efforts and consistency will be recognised and truly rewarded.



  1. How did you get over procrastination and exam stress?

I don’t think it’s something any student ever really gets over (she laughs). You have to try and be disciplined but also realistic. I always used to schedule time in my study schedule for fun activities and even time for procrastinating.


  1. In summary, what words would you like to extend to students writing exams?

You are loved and you are already a success by having made it into the field of study you are studying. Don’t forget that all the pressure is internal and that no matter how long it takes you will fulfill your purpose in this world if you don’t give up. You have a whole life outside your studies family, friends and those you encounter every day and your true worth is not in whether you pass or fail your exams but it’s in your very presence in the lives of those around you. Don’t let the fear of failure fool you into discouragement, loneliness, fear and anxiety but remember that you always have a second chance and that failure is an opportunity to only achieve greater success.


Is big data the future of business?

31 year old, Thabo Nonkenge is the CEO & Founder of Singulum Data. Singulum Data operates in the Information Communication & Technology (ICT) industry. The company has a desire to influence the way business is done, demystifying big data, analytics & business advisory. Singulum Data seeks to instil and establish a culture of data-centricity within all business and public environments, they provide clients with dashboard tools and real-time analytics based on clients enterprise software licensing. We have a brief conversation with Thabo Nonkenge on business and entrepreneurship:


Thabo Nonkenge, CEO & Founder of Singulum Data


  1. How long have you been in operation? 

Unofficially it’s been 2.5 years, officially since the 1st of September 2018.

  1. Why is your service necessary? 

Companies will not be future proof without the service I provide.

  1. What’s been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur?

Accessing markets.

  1. What advice would you give to upcoming entrepreneurs? 

Start, whatever you are thinking of doing, and if you are already doing it, focus on solving specific business problems and find ways to innovate your product offering and creating value for your client.

  1. Is there any resource you’ve tapped into, that’s helped you as an entrepreneur? 

Yes, my network & leveraging those of others around me.


  1. If you would request one thing for your business right now? What would it be? 

I’m looking for data scientists to work with on a call basis to develop the longer term work and deliver on short term projects, SAS skills are important.

7.  Where can people find you?

Our offices are in Woodmead, Woodmead Estate, Johannesburg and people can visit our website on www.singulumdata.com


Stained Wines is here to disrupt the beverage industry!

Nozipho Hlophe, aged 24 and  Kamogelo Lesabe, aged 25 are the  co-founders for VertCo, which is a premium beverage company that owns Stained Wines. They operate in the beverage industry, with their current covering being in the wine sector. They offer premium boutique wines of Western Cape origin, forming partnerships in regions with the richest harvest, ripe for their customers best satisfaction. They also operate in the Youth Empowerment space, with both founders having a strong background in leadership and growth management. This is how the movement of #Wineversations came about: housing captains of industries and unique trailblazers, strangers to each other at each seating, to foster a culture of network expansion, viable collaboration, but most importantly peer knowledge sharing. VertCo has been in operation for 6 months on-book. We asked Kamogelo a couple of questions on their services, challenges and advice to other young entrepreneurs:


Nozipho Hlophe, Co-founder and Creative Director of VertCo

Kamogelo Lesabe, Co-Founder & Managing Director of VertCo



    1. Why is VertCo necessary?

We are at a prime time in our country and continent at large where we have a vacuum of youth participation in the economy and other spheres; the conversational and action-driven platforms we provide seeks to address the opportunities we can leverage off of through joint participation. Then secondly, the market, both domestic and international, is rife for products which are authentic and represent them across the spectrum. In a world where fabricated image is seen as perfectionism, we are redefining the notion by embodying a heightened sense of excellence through authenticity: which is a brand that can never be cloned.


     2. What’s been your biggest challenge as a business owner?

Funding for the start-up stage.


     3.  What advice would you give to upcoming entrepreneurs?

Start, then progress through trial & error. Secondly, be your biggest cheerleader: In the beginning it will be difficult and you may not get what you expect. But if you stick it out a little bit longer with an increasing passion and dedication, even the gated environments will issue invitations for your presence.


      4.  Is there any resource you’ve tapped into, that’s helped you as an entrepreneur?  

Following from our biggest challenge, the biggest (most difficult and most rewarding) resource we tapped into was Bootstrapping. Once we had exhausted all avenues of sourcing these, we rolled and stretched all we could to self-finance the vision, and from then onwards we have never rested to ensure that the fire burning inside of us seeps through and illuminates every client we provide our service & products to.


     5. If you would request one thing for your business right now? What would it be?

Brand awareness.


     6. Where can people find you? 

Email: info@stainedwines.co.za

Twitter: @WinesStained

Instagram: @stainedwines

Facebook: Stained Wines


     7. You mentioned Wineversations earlier on, when is the next event and how can people attend? 

The next Wineversations is taking place on the 26th of July,2019. Those that are interested that follow us on social media can indicate their interest to attend, and a postcard invitation may well be on their way for attendance!




Womandla, celebrating the power of women!

Womandla Foundation provides sustainable, relevant programmes in all spheres within technology, media, skills development, mentorship, and every sector they can use to empower women and young girls to live out their destiny. Womandla has been in operation for 4 years now, they officially registered in September 2018. Sam Gqomo, director of Womandla Foundation, says their biggest challenge as a NPO is, “securing funding for our projects and events”. Read more on our short conversation with Sam Gqomo on entrepreneurship, Womandla Foundation, their upcoming career expo and inaugural Women in STEM Awards below:


Director of Womandla Foundation, Sam Gqomo


1. Why is Womandla Foundation important?
We are solving socio-economic challenges by using our organization as a springboard for educating, training and equipping women with the resources needed to eliminate impoverishment and strive for excellence in various spheres

2. What advice would you give to upcoming entrepreneurs?
Pursue your passion and make sure it solves a larger pain point outside of just the industry needs. Make a difference in someone’s life.

3. Is there any resource you’ve tapped into, that’s helped you as an entrepreneur? What is it?
Canva as a graphic design tool, and human resources! Our projects are nothing without people (networks).

4. If you would request one thing for your business right now? What would it be?
We require our own office spaces or at least a shared space in Cape Town to operate from. We also would like pro bono assistance in terms of accountants that deals with the NPO sector, pro bono lawyers to assist in legal matters, pro bono graphic designer to build their portfolio and sponsors for stationary as a hard cost. Stationary includes paper, ink, 100 pens, 100 booklets and a Womandla Wall Banner.

5. Do you have any upcoming events? If yes, share more information on this?
Yes, the WOMANDLA Career Expo is a one-day only format being held on Friday, 12 July 2019. The Career Expo will be held at the Langa High School Hall and is aimed at exposing learners to various Career Expos.

We also have our Inaugural Women in STEM Awards coming up, see more on the link: https://www.bizcommunity.com/Article/196/701/192256.html?fbclid=IwAR3Zgpyk8v-tKcSbC9G9J4CRo3ltFU1la8M6Td-oWQUp57Wv8chBXOfMZZ4

To nominate yourself or others in STEM enter here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSc-RRzp10YdPtVkJtSP5eRiXemUZ_SaDzeESvy1qbJYGkFJCQ/viewform?vc=0&c=0&w=1


Find all you need to know on Womandla Foundation here:

Website: www.womandla.com
IG: https://www.instagram.com/womandla/
FB: https://www.facebook.com/womandlaonline/
TW: https://twitter.com/Womandla1

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Maxine Gray invests her time in the future of our young ones

Maxine Gray is 28 years old, she’s a Board Member of imagine.nation (NPO) and founder of the Winter Warmer Initiative. Imagine.nation focuses on education and entrepreneurship in informal sector communities, particularly with a focus on Early Childhood Development (ECD). The Winter Warmer project is targeted at raising funds to provide polar fleece blankets to creches and other beneficiary organisations in need of assistance in keeping children warm while at school such that they can learn. Imagine.nation partners with a local supplier organisation who sources and makes up the polar fleece blankets. The Winter Warmer project started in 2010 as a personal project for Maxine and became an official imagine.nation project in 2015. Next year will be the 10-year anniversary for the Winter Warmer project.


We asked Maxine a couple of questions around the imagine.nation and the Winter Warmer project:


  1. Why is imagine.nation important?


We believe that education is the key to unlocking a better future for all and that if a child is given a good foundation, from an early age that he/she will be significantly more equipped to be able to develop, learn and grow into a successful adult. By providing a safe, educational space where children can learn from just a few months old to age 6 before entering primary school, it also enables parents to be able to seek employment and provide for their families thus promoting employment, higher income levels and assisting in alleviating poverty. I believe there is a direct link between ECD and alleviating poverty, using entrepreneurship to unlock economic potential.


  1. What’s been your biggest challenge in being a part of imagine.nation?


Balancing a full-time career and working in this space which I am so passionate about is difficult. Having limited time can make one feel despondent when progress seems slow or not at the pace I would have hoped, however looking back to where we have come from is always a great reminder of the compounded impact consistent work has had over the years. Also, funding and dedicated volunteers who are truly committed to the cause are always hard to come by.


  1. What advice would you give to other positive social change agents?


Always fuel your fire by consistently connecting with your passion, people that share your passion and surrounding yourself with people who support you in these endeavours. Never be too hard on yourself, set realistic goals based on your capacity and be consistent – a small amount of dedicated time, each day, compounds into great success over time – be patient and never give up.


  1. Is there any resource you’ve tapped into, that’s helped imagine.nation? What is it?


Family, friends, colleagues, social networks and fellow One Young World Ambassadors.


  1. If you would request one thing for the work you’re doing, what would it be?


For the Winter Warmer, with 2020 being the 10-year anniversary, my goal is to be able to raise enough funds to get 10 000 blankets distributed to children and organisations in need. As such, funding (donations) and support of the campaign, through social networks, family, friends and companies is required to be able to reach this goal. We are looking to raise R500k by June 2020 in order to achieve this.


  1. Any events coming up?


We run a program called “Parties with a Purpose” which we host once a month – the idea is to allow people to celebrate their Birthdays with an educational, fun morning at our Boitshepo creche in the Lanseria area. We are doing a Winter Warmer distribution at our Boitshepo creche on 7 July.


  1. For more information check out these pages or email Maxine:


Instagram: @imagine.nation_insta

Facebook: Imagine.nation

Email: maxinegray.imagine.nation@gmail.com


Nkululeko Msomi provides clean water solution through his company, Ki-Agua

Nkululeko Msomi is 25 years old and is the founder of Ki-Agua (Pty) Ltd. Ki-Agua is in the health, wellness and water industry and supplies organic water filters and glass dispensers. The company has been in operation since January 2018 and caters for individuals and organizations who take extra precautions to ensure their water is clean, safe and without any plastic waste (bottled water). The Ki-Agua Activated Charcoal Sticks have been tested and found to remove nasty toxins from water such as traces of chlorine, lead, copper and mercury. Ki-Agua Activated Charcoal Sticks are also an economical water filter since one stick is biodegradable and reusable for up to three months. The biggest challenge faced by Ki-Agua team is getting the product easily available to customers.



We asked him a few questions regarding entrepreneurship, what they currently need as a business right now and where you can find them:


  1. What advice would you give to upcoming entrepreneurs?


Firstly, find something you are really passionate about, try find a away of making money out of it and then overcome the fear of failing. Secondly, start. You must start. You don’t have to have it all figured out from the beginning but keep the blueprint in mind and begin. Begin selling and offering your products and services. Thirdly, keep having fun. Having fun doesn’t mean there are no challenges along the way to success.


  1. Is there any resource you’ve tapped into, that’s helped you as the founder of Ki-Agua? If yes, what is it? 


Yeah. I can’t say it’s money (yet) because Ki-Agua was started with my bursary allowance mostly. Priorities. I don’t think it’s anything new. I read and researched a lot about my industry. I’m a networker so I knew a few people of which I really studied their success and failure stories. Learn to listen and listen to learn. My Chemical Engineering studies have contributed greatly to the success of Ki-Agua.


  1. If you would request one thing for your business right now? What would it be?


To have more brick-and-mortar stores in South Africa to stock our products. Our online platform is a work in progress, however, our customers would appreciate walking into a zero waste or health and wellness store and buy our products from there.


  1. Where can people find you? (offices, website, social media handles)


We can be found on www.kiagua.co.za  that’s where all the information and how to place an order can be found and done.  Our email and social media handles are:


Email: hello@kiagua.co.za

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kiaguacharcoal/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/kiaguacharcoal/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kiaguacharcoal

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PHV-gLugyCY

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/35451418/admin/


To hear more about Ki-Agua (Pty) Ltd follow them on all their social media platforms. They will also begin with blog posts next month to enlighten their customers about healthcare and wellness. Share post to create more awareness on this cool business.

#RT #SupportYoungEntrepreneurs #TheYoungCatalyst #TheYoungCatalystEntrepreneurs


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KwaZulu Natal’s, Dr Nqobile Xaba shows us that anything is possible if you believe and work hard

PhD graduate, Dr Nqobile Xaba grew up in a village called Tafelkop in the rural outskirts of Pinetown in KwaZulu-Natal. She attended school at a local primary and secondary school that was a short walking distance from home. Her number one passion is youth empowerment through education. Over the years, she has been involved with NPOs in order to reach out to communities in disadvantaged areas.  Dr Xaba, studied a BSc degree in Pure and Applied Chemistry in which she graduated Cum Laude, and BSc Honours degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the Faculty of Natural Science and Chemistry Department. She proceeded to obtain a MSc degree in Chemical Engineering Sciences at North-West University in the Chemical Engineering department and Engineering Faculty. Last year, she graduated with a PhD in Chemistry at the University of the Western Cape from the faculty of Natural Science and Chemistry Department. She says,” I believe in myself more than anything; I believe in living an impactful life and making a difference in the world. I am determined; I set goals and work as hard as I can to achieve them”. We are completely inspired by her story.


See our full interview below:


  1. What does education mean to you?

My parents were never afforded the opportunity to be educated and they wanted nothing more than us to be educated. For me it was my way out, it was the only way I was going to be able to support my family, and ensure a brighter future for myself and siblings. Over the years, I have also realised that education to me means freedom, gives me the capacity to expand my thinking capabilities, to think beyond what currently exist, means the ability to create, generate and transfer knowledge.


  1. Why did you choose to go into Chemistry?

I have always been curious about science and how the world works from a young age. I had a choice to either do a major in biology or chemistry in my first year, I was more fascinated by chemistry, so I chose that route. Fast forward a few years later, I decided I wanted to do research that would tackle current global issues and energy shortages and so I decided I would do energy related research for MSc and PhD. I am still continuing work in this field.


  1. Have you always known you wanted to study the degree you have chosen?

I have always known I was going to be a scientist from the day that my grade 4 teacher told us about science. I then had to decide on my first year the field of science I was going to specialise in.


  1. How does your course of study help you in fulfilling the calling over your life? If you believe in a calling.

I believe in living an impactful life, I want to make a difference in someone’s life. I believe that doing research on trying to find alternative energy solutions will address the national and global energy and climate problem. That is how I intend on using my education and skills to improve the quality of life.


  1. Do you think it’s possible for someone to be in the wrong field of study?

Yes I do, often when applying or enrolling at university or college, we take up courses due to availability of space, points or selections system, based on parental advice or peer pressure, or lack of knowledge to available courses or fields of study. Any of the above reasons can sway you towards a degree that might not be suitable for you or one you can’t cope with. So I believe that at least one should know whether they want to be in science, or commerce because most first year degree courses are general and gives you the option of changing to another field on your second year without losing credits or feeling like you wasted a year. Also, most students do not get the opportunity to take a gap year where they can truly explore their career options through internships, or job shadowing; this limits your options for career choices.


  1. What would you say to that person who is experiencing those depressing thoughts because they feel they are in the wrong field of study? How would you motivate them?

I would advise them to study their best. My post graduate experience has taught me that the degree that you study does not determine your career path. I have friends who studied chemistry and work in the banking industry, and some are financial analyst. Your degree is meant to equip you with the skills to handle anything and that is important. Your career path is up to you in the end. If they feel strongly about it and do not see themselves proceeding, I would advise them to seek career counselling, and then change to the course they feel is more suitable to them.


  1. There is no smooth academic journey, what are some of the obstacles that you’ve had to overcome? How did you overcome them?

Heavy workload to adjust to, from attending lectures, practicals, tests, exams etc. I had to manage my time well and put in the extra hours. I had no option but to pass in order for my scholarship to be renewed the next year without funding I would have to go home. That is a reality for most students. I did attend counselling in my first year just to talk to someone, I was lucky to have known about this service, we also had mentors who were helpful, and I had good friends with similar background so we leaned on each other for support. Balance is also a challenge, I had to allocate a non-negotiate time to me at least once a week to calibrate the system by doing something I enjoy that is not academically related like binge watching movies or reading a novel or chilling with friends.


  1. Has your upbringing affected your academic journey in anyway? If you feel it limited you in anyway, how did you move past those boundaries?

Yes it did. I went to a disadvantaged school with limited resources. I saw a computer for the first time in first year and had to learn to type while other students could already do this. I had never been inside a science laboratory or seen it while my class mates had. I took this as a challenge, it motivated me, because I was fascinated by everything and wanted to learn. I managed to turn these challenges into motivation. I think it turned out well since I graduated on top with the only cum laude in my chemistry class.


  1. Time management is imperative in a student’s life. How did you manage your time during exam time in university? Especially, if they were close to each other.

Having a study timetable first. You have to study all of your courses at the same time if they are close to each other and only focus more on one the day before or two. Form a study group with classmates or friends. This will assist in keeping you accountable, having someone to ask for help if you don’t understand.


  1. Fear is one of the biggest hindrances to success. How did you get over the fear of asking for help when you didn’t understand the work that was being taught?

I had a group of amazing friends, I was always comfortable to ask them for help. I was afraid to ask the lecturer alone so we would always go as a group.


  1. Would you recommend group studying?

Yes I would. Keeps one accountable, and ensures that you have someone to help you with something you are struggling with. Just ensure you choose the right group of people.


  1. How did you get over procrastination and exam stress?

This was my approach: Preparation is key. If you prepare well, you will write well. Exam stress will always be there but ensure that you prepare to ease off the fear of knowing you were underprepared for it. Also, ensure that you sleep, put it in your study timetable so that, ensure that you eat and hydrate. So that you don’t get health related issues during the exam.


  1. In summary, what words would you like to extend to students?

Prepare for your tests and exams. Once you have attended all lectures and you have all the information, study hard and do your best. You have come this far not by coincidence but by your determination. Do your best.


The Young Catalyst team welcomes all university students to a new academic year. We have begun our #YoungAcademics series featuring some of South Africa’s top university graduates. The aim of the series is to encourage you in your academic journey whilst celebrating the success of our young graduates. Follow us on all our social media platforms to make sure you don’t miss out on everything we are up to. Contact us on info@theyoungcatalyst.co.za if you’d like to be involved with our initiative. Let’s work hard this year to ensure we get closer to getting those degrees.


Qualified Chartered Accountant Mlungisi Hlongwane shares his story and encourages us this exam season

A humble, respectful and well-mannered gentleman, Mlungisi Hlongwane is a philanthropist, an entrepreneur and a social transformation agent. Mlungisi hails from a deep rural area called Bergville in Kwazulu Natal. The place boasts the infamous Drankensberg Mountains – one of the worlds heritage sites. He was raised by his grandmother who was and still is an entrepreneur in her own right. She ran a spaza shop, she was also quite big in farming in the area and from a very young age Mlungisi assisted her at the spaza shop and in the fields. The passion for entrepreneurship and philanthropy grew from then.


Having completed both SAICA Initial Test of Competence (ITC) and Assessment of Professional Competence (APC), Mlungisi is a qualified Chartered Accountant. He is currently pursuing his Master of Philosophy in Entrepreneurship with the University of Pretoria under the faculty of Economic and Management Sciences – Department of Business Studies. He obtained his Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal under Faculty of Law and Management Sciences and obtained his Postgraduate Diploma in Accountancy (Certificate of Theory in Accounting) with University of South Africa (UNISA) under the College of Economics and Management Sciences – CAS Department.


Mlungisi’s strong will to succeed has earned him several accolades. He was recently nominated for the SAICA Top 35 under 35 Competition 2018 and won the public vote of the same competition. He was also selected to be a part of the Top 100 Africa’s Brightest Young Minds in 2017. Mlungisi was voted as the best performer for the PFMA audits of the Gauteng Provincial Government Departments and Public Entities in 2015 at the Auditor General of South Africa. He was part of the Top 25 CTA students in the Auditor General of South Africa and formed part of the organised Boot Camp for the preparation of 2014 UNISA Exams.


This hard-working and well achieved young man has the world chasing him with opportunities, read his story below to see how he made it through university:


  1. Why did you choose to go into the CA field?


It must be the realization of the value and the importance that the CA(SA) profession has. I have a passion to contribute to this profession that has taught me a lot throughout the journey to becoming a CA and beyond qualification. This combined with my curious personality, I always want to learn and explore new things through research and being able to package it for the next person to understand it better so that they derive value out of it. Academia allows me to do this with ease. In addition to this, I believe that Academia is my calling. It allows me to empower the next person to realize their dreams and this is to the betterment of the families, societies and eventually the world. When the next person is empowered, then I am fulfilled.


  1. Have you always known you wanted to study towards becoming a CA?


Because of my background i.e. entrepreneurial background, I always knew that I had to pursue a career related to finance. I always wanted to understand how finances worked and to help my grandmother with the finances in her businesses. I must however, admit that I never knew anything about Chartered Accountancy at that point. It was through doing research that I found out that the perfect qualification for my intended career would be to become a Chartered Accountant. I started following and learning more about the very few people in my area who were Chartered Accountants. I made it a point that I ask them for guidance until I eventually attained the designation.



  1. Do you think it’s possible for someone to be in the wrong field of study?


I believe anyone who does not follow his passion or calling is in the wrong field. I have made it my mission to offer career guidance to young people and make sure that they choose the careers that are more aligned with their passion. I have seen that those who do something that they like tend to do it best.


  1. What would you say to that person who is experiencing those depressing thoughts because they feel they are in the wrong field of study bearing in mind exams are still in progress? How would you motivate them?


It is often tempting for one to feel like they are in the wrong field of study whereas the natural challenge and anxiety that comes with the exams. One would need to first be clear that the feeling is genuinely because they are really not passionate about the course. However, I believe one must always remember the reason why they started something. That normally provides them with the motivation to weather the storm. If they want it bad enough, they will find a way to make it work. I also encourage working in groups of common interest.


  1. There is no smooth academic journey, what are some of the obstacles that you’ve had to overcome? How did you overcome them?

The first biggest obstacle was coming from the rural schools and often the English language becomes a barrier that also works against self-confidence. Adjusting to the university where English is the teaching language became a challenge. I have learnt throughout my academic journey that the best way to overcome any challenge related to academics is to understand the type of a person you are. This will allow you to come up with the strategies that work best for you and not copy other people’s way of doing things. An example would be to understand whether you are someone who learns better on their own or in a group set-up, are you a person who learns better using visuals, someone who is able to memorize something for a longer period. That allowed me to understand that I am a slow reader and therefore I allocated more time in my studies. The other challenge I faced was when I did my Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting part-time. It is extremely challenging to balance work with studies. This one requires discipline, focus and lot of sacrifices. I had to sacrifice my social life but, in the end, it was all worth it. Here is the last one, you need to want it bad enough for you to be able to soldier on and overcome the challenges. I was never afraid to ask for assistance when I was struggling. This speaks to the right associations.


  1. Has your upbringing affected your academic journey in anyway? If you feel it limited you in anyway, how did you move past those boundaries?


It is true that people who come from disadvantaged background start from the back foot, however this is by no way an indication of the impossibility to attain one’s academic goal. I have mentioned the communication barrier i.e. English language but that can also be overcome. The lack of appropriate mentorship and guidance during the schooling days had an effect as well. I feel that if there was appropriate guidance and exposure to certain information, I would have navigated much easier. There were and still are no information centres in our community to expose pupils to more information about the careers and just to prepare them for the next stages of their life.  This remains one of the biggest differences between the children from disadvantaged backgrounds and the rest. By the way, it is not only the children that do not have access to information but also the parents, which magnifies the problem. The determination to succeed and not being willing to ever give up is what helped me move past these boundaries.


  1. There are students who didn’t get DP (minimum entry requirement to be able to write an exam) for some of their modules. They are feeling discouraged. How would you advise them in this exam season?


I am firm believer in self-introspection. I must admit that I have never been in the same situation before but I have experienced failure in my academic life and in life in general. I would encourage the student to allow for the process of acceptance, which is normally very hard. They are probably thinking about the people they have let down e.g. parents, themselves and the standards they might set for themselves, friends and their communities even. We should never forget that making it to tertiary is still a privilege to many and thus it puts some students under pressure because they become ‘role models’ in their communities and have to be seen as successful. When one finds themselves in this situation, they need to get through the stage of acceptance and when that has happened they need to do self-introspection and understand what went wrong. After they have diagnosed a problem, they need to come up with a strategy to rectify what would have gone wrong. Importantly, they must rid themselves of the pressures, internally and externally, as that is not going to help them in any way.


  1. Time management is imperative in a student’s life. How did you manage your time between exams? Especially, if they were close to each other.


As soon as I receive my exam timetable, I would draw my exam preparation timetable and plan how I am going to approach my studies. This would require one to look at the time available and the activities that they have to do, prioritize the most important ones and sacrifice some activities that are not that important. Allocate more resources to the subjects that are either complex or have more volume of work. Importantly, one needs to be disciplined and stick to the timetable.


  1. Fear is one of the biggest hindrances to success. How did you get over the fear of asking for help when you didn’t understand the work you were studying?


One needs to always gage, which one is more valuable between fear and getting help. There were instances where I would fear asking for help but after asking myself the above question. One hundred percent of the time, I would find that asking for help is more valuable. I have learnt that nothing in life is guaranteed and therefore we would always be faced with uncertainty that we have to respond to. Fearing to ask is one example because you fear how you will be received by the next person. I have learnt to always be prepared to get either favourable or unfavourable responses. Always ask for help when you are unclear about something.


  1. Quotes are motivation for a lot of students. Do you have any quote which has kept you going in your journey? And who is it by?


I live by this quote from the late John Lennon “In the end, it will be ok. If it is not ok, then it is not the end”. The other one is by Henry Ford “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right”.


  1. In summary, what words would you like to extend to students writing exams?

Always ask yourself, how bad do you want to pass this exam. If you want it bad enough, you will make it happen. Always keep a positive mindset and avoid things that demotivate or discourage you. Set goals, strategize (plan) and go for a kill.


Thank you for your responses Mlungisi. Your story of humble beginnings is so encouraging. All the best to the students still writing. You almost there, keep going. #YoungAcademics