Johannesburg - There is arguably nothing more invaluable to aspiring South African entrepreneurs than hands-on experience. In an environment which currently has one of the highest start-up failure rates in the world, the transfer of knowledge, and the sharing of ideas and practical lessons are all the more important. This is the main objective behind the recently launched Wish I Knew podcast, facilitated by MiWay Insurance in partnership with GIBS Business School – a platform geared towards facilitating the conversations that can help entrepreneurs survive – and thrive.
According to Jason Mellow, Head of Business Insurance at MiWay, entrepreneurship can be a bumpy road, and for most entrepreneurs, the pathway to success is mired with what may seem like unsurmountable obstacles, perplexing questions, and daunting odds. “In the stories of successful, local entrepreneurs lie key insights into how to charter a way forward, amidst the unique challenges that the local business environment presents.”
Entrepreneurship Month – recognised annually in November - presents the perfect opportunity to launch this digital platform, aimed at current and aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs. Platforms such as the Wish I Knew podcast play a vital role in providing access to information, fostering skills development, steering important conversations, and offering entrepreneurs much-needed inspiration.
Driven by bigger-picture thinking
Given that small businesses are often referred to as the ‘lifeblood’ of the South African economy, building platforms that offer business leaders with support, also ties in with broader national objectives.
Fostering the growth of a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem can drive positive change and economic development on many fronts – from tackling poverty and unemployment, to promoting social cohesion and giving more South Africans the tools and knowledge, they need to empower themselves, their families, and their communities.
Rooted in the real world
The Wish I Knew podcast will be hosted by Phemelo Motene, Kaya FM presenter, former 702 Talk Radio host, entrepreneur, and actress. Motene will interview a line-up of successful, local entrepreneurs, asking pivotal questions about how they overcame the hurdles of getting a venture off the ground.
Podcast guests will be prompted to share their stories and take listeners on a journey through how they formulated unique solutions to problems, made a compelling business case for their product and service, and persevered through the turbulence of the first few years of business.
“In a very authentic and relatable way, this podcast will represent everything that the guests themselves, wish they knew before starting their own businesses. Some of the world’s most seminal thinkers in the business world have attested to the fact that their pathway to success could have been smoother, had they been given access to firsthand experience and advice. In a recently publicised interview, Elon Musk, for example, acknowledged that understanding the significance and value of resilience earlier on in his career, would have been immensely beneficial.
“These are the kinds of stories we hope to unearth through the Wish I Knew podcast. The difference is that we’re bringing these stories home, to the South African reality and showcasing homegrown success stories that entrepreneurs can use as stepping stones,” says Mellow.
Lighting the way for South African pioneers
South African small business owners face a gauntlet of unique challenges, some of which include lack of access to funding, navigating the complex regulatory environment and bridging education and skills gaps. These challenges play out within the broader framework of many systemic setbacks such as social inequality, political tensions, economic uncertainty, and crime.
While it can be said that through various means and channels, the stories of more successful entrepreneurs are receiving the airtime they deserve, there is still much work to be done in the way of showcasing the accomplishments of everyday entrepreneurs. For this reason, in collating the list of guests to be featured on the Wish I Knew podcast, the MiWay team reached out to on-the-ground entrepreneurs in industries such as beauty, fashion, the pharmaceutical trade and restaurants.
This, as Mellow explains, has rooted the podcast firmly on home soil and helped in communicating a message that ordinary South Africans can relate to and aspire towards. Topics will touch on real issues such as how local entrepreneurs have managed to strike a balance between building a business empire and nurturing a family, how to leave a lasting legacy and how to deal with failure.
As he concludes: “Wish I Knew is a series designed for sharing powerful stories that tell us how real people, just like us, made their dreams come true. The podcast is one way in which we hope to promote and encourage a culture of collaboration within the local entrepreneurial environment. We’re excited about this new initiative and what it means for our connection to the local business community.”