“Entrepreneurship is often glamourized and sometimes seen as a panacea to solving social ills and transforming the economy, but this can lead to unrealistic expectations and individuals not being prepared for the demands of this journey,” cautions Mimi Kalida, Managing Director of the Africa Communications Media Group.
Kalinda believes that one of the ways to remain realistic when pursuing entrepreneurship is thorough research. “By researching the industry, you want to get into as well as aspects such as policy or regulations governing that particular industry,” she explains. Kalinda emphasizes the importance of being informed before making drastic decisions and a calculated approach when making the big jump into entrepreneurship. “No one needs to quit their day jobs immediately and one can take an organic approach where vital steps such as saving or raising funds is done progressively until one is ready to make the change,” she adds. Kalinda started Africa Communications Media Group part-time and ensured that it was a self-funded business from the beginning.
The Group’s value proposition is assisting companies with their brand positioning and establishing themselves as thought leaders in their respective industries. “This mission requires our company to help organisations with their strategies in South Africa and in the continent and at the same time ensuring that the communication support helps them to grow their client base,” she explains.
Kalinda is a board member of Catalyst for Growth (C4G) and she believes her expertise will enable the C4G to further enhance their reputation in the market. “The organisation [C4G] has a vital role in the future of business development of our country and its evidence-based approach has potential to be a game changer for the country,” says Kalinda. She holds a view that C4G’s role should not only be promoted within South Africa but also on the continent where there has already been interest in the work done by their organisation.
As a woman entrepreneur, Kalinda feels strongly that insights provided by C4G can help address some of the disparities in the economy. “For example, research has shown that women-run businesses are most likely to succeed. However, we are yet to see the market paying particular attention to women businesses despite legislations such as B-BBEE which encourages support for women businesses,” argues Kalinda. This is not only a challenge in South Africa. Various businesses across the continent remain male-dominated which tends to lead to undertones of patriarchy. “However, we are also seeing men who strongly believe in women-led businesses and who are partners in ensuring that the business environment is more balanced,” she adds.
Kalinda attributes the success of Africa Communications Media Group in South Africa and on the continent to their commitment to exceeding expectations of their clients.“I am a strong believer that excellence speaks for itself, that through our professionalism and solutions that really make an impact in the business of our clients, we will continue to be a company to contend with,” she affirms. She is proud that Africa Communications Media Group has been able to find a niche, “we are a truly African company with strong roots and networks across the continent. We have authentic knowledge and culturally attuned competencies that enable us to support our clients in most parts of the continent,” says Kalinda. She is also proud that the company is having a social impact, where supporting non-governmental organisations and contributing to skills development is a vital part of her company’s ethos. “I also enjoy the fact that we have a young team and each individual in the company receives support as well as mentoring, to ensure that they grow so that they can thrive even beyond our company,” she elaborates.
Reflecting on some of the challenges for the company, Kalinda points to the logistics, infrastructure and policy-related issues of operating on the continent. “If one is having an event at Cape Verde from Johannesburg, for example, one first has to fly to France and then Spain in order to reach another country on the continent,” she ponders. She hopes that efforts of the African Union to improve trade on the continent will happen sooner and enable intra-Africa business trades to blossom.
Looking ahead, Africa Communications Media Group’s focus will remain growing its client portfolio together with expanding its footprint on the continent. Kalinda is committed to ensuring that the desired growth will remain intertwined with a positive contribution and impact on society. “I am driven by a strong desire to tell positive African stories of success. Through Africa Communications Media Group our day to day work is about changing the African story narrative and telling it as our own continental story,” she concludes.
She believes that through her involvement with C4G, she will also help the organisation to spread its word on the continent and promote its contribution to the skills, knowledge, and insights that are needed on the continent.