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Caley Africa is an entrepreneur and the co-founder of digital marketplace Artisans in Africa (AIA).  AIA sustains grassroots employment for artisanal products and experiences and drives cross-cultural connection within the artisan arena. So, what does that mean exactly? A 10-year project, AIA uses high-end video content to give African artisans a platform to showcase their businesses. Caley tells GH writer Ondela Mlandu more.

Retelling the African narrative

The African narrative has for a long time been distorted by ego, which is why Caley is passionate about re-sharing these stories. The AIA digital platform was created for creatives on the African continent, to harness their unique gifts, while creating employment within the creative space. 

“We need to build new systems that allow African creatives and their authentic stories to thrive. The system often suppresses creativity, and forces people into conventional careers for survival. If I can open doors for fellow creatives at all levels in the economy to be seen for their talents, and survive from their skill set, I consider my purpose on earth complete,” she says.


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Sometimes the industry can make you want to walk away from your truest passion. And that’s sad. Because when you love an art form for just that, being a form of #expression that you are passionate about; that you want to practice daily, the industry really can get you down, especially as a sensitive soul. BUT, there are safe spaces for #creatives, one being @heavychef – and I’m super grateful to have found it. The moral of the story: value YOU, value your offering, keep practicing, find a #safespace to grow, find leadership that #uplifts; because the space in which you choose to create is so KEY. Choose one with #❤️, #✌️and #??. Thanks @heavychef ❤️❤️ I am so happy to create alongside this team. ? . . . . #thejourney #creativebrain #rationalworld #findyourtribe #itseverything #andmore #❤️ #heavychef #interviewlife #creativelife #videojournalism #positivenews #positivestories #newagejournalism #reasearcher #writer #presenter #storyteller #technologists #leaders #creatives #southafrica

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Becoming an entrepreneur…

Caley studied a Business Science degree at the University of Cape Town, alongside her co-founder Nii Amar Laryea. “The degree exposed me to business basics, a broad mindset to have as an entrepreneur; [it] teaches discipline and discipline is core to success in any field,” she says. In 2020, you can choose to study online – and the entire construct of study looks different. “I value university because it exposes you to like-minded people,” she says.

Caley feels that tertiary education is a good first step towards self-actualisation. “Tertiary [education] teaches you that you can do anything you set your mind to, with discipline and consistency. However, it’s certainly not mandatory when becoming an entrepreneur. [Learn] by doing. You learn from your failures along the way, so learn from those who have walked before you in your chosen field,” she says.

READ MORE: Fix Moeti – Creating Opportunities For Women And Social Entrepreneurs In SA

Teamwork makes the dream work

“None of us can become successful entrepreneurs on our own. We need to build a team,” she says. Caley is a firm believer in engaging in activities that promote and strengthen teamwork along your journey. “Stepping into any industry requires innate work in the personal development arena – and this work is to find your God-given purpose… whatever God and purpose means to you,” she adds.

Six lessons Caley has learnt…

“Note: I’m only 30 and very much still learning. I by no means have all the answers – I have more advice on what not to do,” she says.

1/ Start small and start as young as possible – it doesn’t matter how big or small your business is. It all adds up into experience in your chosen space.  

2/ You learn by doing. 

3/ You will fail, as this is a natural part of it. 

4/ Put yourself out of your comfort zone, as often as possible, in small ways. This will add up to you being a braver human in the long run. If you don’t like public speaking, join a club as young as possible to get over the fear.

5/ Keep building a core set of skills and forget about job titles. The world is changing too fast to cling to job titles. [Caley suggests playing around with many skills to see what you’re good at.]

6/ Look for people who promote entrepreneurship and support entrepreneurs, as the world is moving towards favouring entrepreneurship as a career choice. 

Why you should connect with other entrepreneurs

“It’s important to look [for] and pursue entrepreneurially business-minded people. It’s highly unlikely you’ll learn about entrepreneurship in a hierarchical corporate giant where you play a singular role. Look for varied experience where you can test out what you are and are not good at – [for example] interning at a start-up where you can test a variety of roles,” she says.

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses is vital. “To connect with other entrepreneurs, look at Startup Grind and Heavy Chef in South Africa for bridging courses into the world of entrepreneurship. They offer blended learning, both in person and online,” she says.

Leadership lesson 101

“Listen – intently – to every word. Truly listen. Don’t be distracted by your preconceived ideas (i.e. ego),” says Caley. “[It’s about] listening to every word, processing it; on top of this, form your opinion and next step from people who have walked before us – [this] brings knowledge.”

READ MORE: Career Advice From A Digital Agency Owner Who’s Helping Other Businesses To Grow

A must-read book for every woman…

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

How Caley practises self-care

“I practise radical transparency with self. I listen and acknowledge my inner truth,” she says. Caley believes in listening to where she is and what she needs. “I act in the best way possible to respect my truth in each and every situation I find myself in. If this requires a shift of environment, friends group, church or career – I move towards my truth,” she adds. Caley also practices yoga, meditation, prayer and healthy eating.

Connect with Caley…

I like building a community around the concept of radical transparency, so please feel free to connect… (Instagram) and Caley Africa (YouTube) (Business Instagram), Artisans in Africa (Facebook)

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