EIT Spotlight:Tshepo Morabane

Abu Okari | Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

This week, we sat down with Tshepo Morabane, a proud denizen of Johannesburg. Read on to find out how a search for a solution to a company he was setting up led him to MEST and how creating socio-economic solutions can be construed as service.

Do you have a nickname?

Yes, Sowke, or Msoki.

What do they mean?

Rebel. Both of them come from my name, Msokolo which is Tswana for the struggle. I was somewhat a “political” rebel in high school. That reputation and my name gave rise to my nicknames.

Where are you from?

Johannesburg, South Africa. I have lived there all my life.

Why do you wake up in the morning?

Serving! There is this quote that my mentor used to use a lot, “ A life lived in service of others is a life well lived”, I am motivated by these words. Hence my focus on local economic development. In my context, working towards local development is the best description of service.

What motivated you join MEST?

Last year in December, I quit my job to focus on a personal project. A lot of people in my community are not working, so I decided to create a business that would help the community develop. The solution I came up with needed technological input. I turned to the interwebs in a bid to find something that would help me learn web development, and that’s how I came across the opportunity of the MEST training program.

What convinced you to apply?

The structure of MEST itself. It is eventually geared to get to a place where it will be self sustaining; it is supposed to generate money at the end of the day. As an Entrepreneur-in-Training, you get to learn, build something, and get to give back at the end. I like MEST’s structure- it’s close to something I was trying to set up back home.

At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

I have always wanted to do my own thing.  That’s why I have never had a full time job, just something to help me make some little money, a hustle of some sort.  That has been the case ever since I ran a business to make pocket money in high school.

What motivated you to become an entrepreneur?

The possibility of giving. In church, we talk about the seven fruits of the holy spirit, I have always considered my mine to be kindness, more specifically, giving. Entrepreneurship enables giving through finding solutions and creating value. Moreover,  if I make good money while at it, I can always give. That is one of the key motivators to my becoming an entrepreneur.

What do you think of MEST so far?

I see it as a very intense, highly informative programme. There is a lot of information to go around. MEST creates a sense of community, where you know you can speak to somebody about your ideas; it is a place for ideas. I like that.

What has been your most memorable experience so far?

If I make it to the incubator launch in Cape Town, that would probably be my all time favourite MEST moment/memory. I am looking forward to seeing my future home being opened!

At MEST so far,  my first pitch was my most memorable moment.  I made my first pitch in class last week. I was very nervous but I went through it. It was some sort of validation. If you go to my Twitter, the cover photo is an image of a performance stage and lights. Public speaking isn’t my forte. I have been working on it, and last week I got the opportunity to practice that, and it went well.

How many businesses did you start before joining MEST?

Quite a few, mostly informal.  I formally registered two businesses but one never took off. It was in logistics. The other one, a carwash service, ran for some time.

Is this you first time visiting a West African country?

Yes!

What did you think of Ghana before you got here?

Most South Africans do not know much about the rest of the continent. We feed off the international news cycle and that is what informs our thoughts about most countries. You read those Boko Haram stories in Nigeria and see Ghana is right next to Nigeria and think their effect gets felt here too. Then you get to Ghana, and realize how most of the things you thought you knew are not true.