Nneile Nkholise, 29, is the founder of iMed Tech, an innovative medical technology start-up that focuses on prosthetic and bio-implant design and manufacturing. We asked her what being included on the prestigious Forbes Africa Under-30 list, which recognises game changers in the fields of business, technology and creativity, meant to her.
Nneile: For me, it was very humbling to be included. It’s a validation of my journey, which has been challenging. The Forbes list is significant because it doesn’t just honour people for making money, but recognises them for making an impact in society. It applauds those using entrepreneurship as a tool to drive change and development within Africa. That’s important.
Q: What has it been like working in a traditionally male-dominated field?
A: Being a woman in the field of medical technology is unusual, but it also provides unique opportunities to write your own story and to learn, innovate and disrupt. I’ve adopted the attitude of ‘being a game changer’ as I have something unique to bring to the industry. It’s even more exciting if you take into account that medical technology is a relatively new sector in the African space. There’s a lot of room for growth!
Q: What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
A: Don’t be discouraged by failure. Use failure as a tool to gain clarity and insight so as to forge a better path for the future. You need to put your entire skin in the game and give it your all. Show that you believe in your idea by putting yourself on the line. Potential funders will take you a lot more seriously if you put your own money into your business, because it shows your commitment and belief.
Rina Chunga-Kutama, 29, is the founder of the highly successful local fashion brand Rich Factory. We asked her for some essential finance tips for start-up business owners.
Rina: Cash flow, cash flow, cash flow! You can’t take cash flow too seriously. Make sure you always have money available to pay your suppliers. Once your suppliers are paid, pay yourself a salary and save a portion of it for retirement each month. Do this without fail!
Q: What has your biggest challenge been in starting your business?
A: Sourcing funding and financial backing is probably the biggest challenge you’ll face when you start out. You need to invest your own money back into the business to ensure its success and help it grow.
Q: How did you overcome the challenge of not being able to afford tertiary education but wanting to further yourself in business?
A: I didn’t give up! You can learn a lot from the Internet and your friends! We continually share knowledge with one another. My biggest tips for people facing the same struggle? Keep your head up. Try to get an internship. Keep investing in yourself in terms of knowledge and experience. Don’t wait for others to create opportunities for you. Create them for yourself.
Reabetswe Ngwane, 25, is the co-founder of KreamFields, an upcycle fashion business that creates designer handbags and other fashion items, as well as first-aid kit bags, respiratory bags or masks and seat protectors for the mining and construction industries. These are all made from recycled tyre tube. We asked her for some words of encouragement for female entrepreneurs trying to make it in a traditionally male-dominated field.
Rea: Be yourself and never apologise for who you are! You need to be authentic and pursue your passion. Don’t be discouraged by the opinion of others, people naturally tend to be negative. There is nothing out there that isn’t worth a try!