Micaela PetersMicaela Sling Photography and Zamaluwa Digital & Zamaluwa Foundation (NGO)

Favorite quote: “’ǃke e꞉ ǀxarra ǁke’ translated as ‘Diverse People Unite’ in |Xam, a language spoken by the San.

What is your story (tell us about yourself)?
I am Social Innovative Entrepreneur based in South Africa.

I completed my Undergraduate Degree in Psychology and Organisational Psychology and my Postgraduate Degree in Management, specializing in Marketing at the University of Cape Town. After entering the corporate world after studying, I’ve realized my passion has always been with people and growing their potential. I, then, went on to complete a course run by the University of Cape Town’s Business School through the Bertha Centre, Social Entrepreneurship and Systems Change, Social Innovation.

I started from humble beginnings, living in the Cape Flats with family to living independently in the suburbs. My life has been filled with many obstacles, from battling with my mental health to being homeless. Looking back, I am grateful for the challenges I’ve endured throughout my life, because it has moulded me to be the person I am today. It has contributed immensely to my passion to empower those who feel powerless, because I’ve been there before.

I am an ex Professional Netball player, who uses sport to mentor young women in Cape Town. I am the founder and Director of my NGO, Zamaluwa Foundation. My NGO, which is in the process of being launched, focuses on Sports, Storytelling and Mentoring, using my wide array of skills to uplift and tell the story of the people whose voices have been silenced.

I’ve volunteered for NGOs whose vision is to uplift the young through education, playtime, sport and arts & crafts.

Alongside being an entrepreneur, I am a travel blogger who attempts to inspire others to live life more, mostly affordably.

When did you start your first business and what inspired you to start?
I started my first business when I was approximately 14 years of age. I started by blowdrying women’s hair and washing people’s cars for some pocket money. I didn’t really grow up receiving pocket money. My mother was a single mother, with lots of responsibilities and I didn’t want to burden her with my wants at the time. Thus, I started from young to make some money.

What is the Key Objective(s) and Vision of your business? (Has it changed overtime or is has it always been this?)
My vision is constantly changing and adapting; however, my key objective remains the same. My key objective is to empower all people, especially those from underserved communities in South Africa. Growing up in the Cape Flats and being afforded the privilege of attending a private senior school and tertiary institution, I felt that it would all be in vain if I did not take my knowledge back to the people who need it most in the country.

My goal is to empower people holistically. I am drawn towards the youth of South Africa, as I believe they have so much untouched and undiscovered potential. And I would like to harness their potential through sports, mentoring, storytelling, and education.

What challenges did you face in your journey? What’s the biggest obstacle you had to overcome (are still overcoming)?
I’ve always been blessed with some form of business. Mostly, because I ran many side hustles all at once. My biggest obstacle has always been “Imposter Syndrome” – so I always underplayed my value, however, could see the value in those all around me. From the vagrant selling some handmade products on the street, to a CEO of a big corporation. This has hindered me when it comes to grabbing opportunities or applying for opportunities because I thought I wasn’t good enough. I’m working on that mindset though, and it’s been a real journey to where my thinking is now.

How did you manage to navigate your company through this period of the Covid-19 pandemic? (What business strategies/operational adjustments have you made over this period and how has it impacted your business model?)
My photography company was founded just before COVID-19 in March 2020, and had to take a big knock. I, then, placed my focus onto using my education background and doing some additional courses to sharpen up my skills. I moved towards all things within the digital space, from website design to social media marketing.

I practiced managing my own brand, as well as my sister’s Nail Bar brand, and really enjoyed it. For me, it wasn’t about the brand, but more empowering my sister to start her own business and create an opportunity for herself, using what she has in her hands.

I’ve adjusted to being more customer centric and building quality relationships with clients. In turn, clients recommend my work to others, opening doors from all corners. With customers having so many options when it comes to the same service, their experience with a company will either have them being retained and them becoming ambassadors for the company.

How do you approach networking and building partnerships in your industry?
Regarding networking, I believe that you must treat everyone well and try to have all subtly see the work you’re doing. You can only receive opportunities if you put yourself out and grab all opportunities with both hands, putting your best foot forward every moment you can.

Do you have (or ever had) a mentor in your journey, and do you believe it helped (if yes, in what way)?
I haven’t had a mentor that stayed long enough for me to say I’ve had one. But there were some people I’ve looked up to and tried to follow in their footsteps until I realized that we all have our own paths.

I try to have accountability friends, within the entrepreneurial space, who are also in business to ensure that I’m running on track and being accountable for what I say I want to do.

What is your perspective on the South African entrepreneurial landscape before and after Covid-19 pandemic? (Would you say the “new normal” context drives more or less opportunities for entrepreneurs?) How can entrepreneurial policy development aid in expanding opportunities in this new context?
Covid 19 has contributed greatly to the unemployment rate in South Africa, resulting in many having side hustles. To me, side hustles fall within entrepreneurship, many just don’t have the knowledge to expand their side hustles and turn it into to high income business. That’s where I feel I find myself, providing small businesses with the knowledge, skills and services to expand their business affordability.

Many aren’t aware of the opportunities that are out there for them, and how to access the opportunities provided by the government and businesses for young entrepreneurs.

In your opinion, what are the secrets to being a successful entrepreneur?
Finding something you’re passionate about and turning it into financial gain. When you’re passionate about what you do, work doesn’t feel like a burden, it might become tiring at some point, but your passion will drive you to succeed.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
Don’t be afraid to start. Be inquisitive. Be teachable, even when you’re successful. There is always something to learn from others who cross your path. Always try to add a social aspect to your business where you give back to people, whether through opportunities, time or monetary.