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Divya Vasant and Lisa Mgcotyelwa are the beauty and brains behind AMAZI, a social impact brand driven to uplift economically excluded women. They share their journey with Go Hustle…

 

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Social entrepreneurship dedicated to social justice

As social entrepreneurs, the powerhouse duo’s focus is primarily on how to bring about social justice through commerce. “Most of us have been taught that non-profits do good and for-profit companies make money,” says Divya. “Social entrepreneurship challenges that by offering the world a new way of doing business: where inclusivity is built into our way of being. Through our ‘Rands and Change’ philosophy, our impact framework, proceeds from purchases of our products or services are deliberately invested in the various ways in which we upskill and support women.”

 

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They’re passionate about seeing women thrive

“Nothing warms our insides more than seeing a woman come into our AMAZI tribe and grow,” says Lisa. “Seeing her command her space, own a meeting, smash a presentation… Seeing the magic that women create when they are given the space to be everything that they are and they are backed to realise their potential – it’s exhilarating, but it’s also what we believe our global economy needs.”

The dynamo team believes that when women thrive, we all thrive – and it’s the very reason they get up every day and fight to create what they create.

 

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Understanding the impact sector

AMAZI SHEtribe spans both the impact sector and wellness industry, explains Divya.  Keen on one, or the other – or both?

“For a young woman interested in working in impact, think about what you are passionate about; get onto Google and research local impact organisations that you could contact to volunteer at. That will help you understand what aspect of impact you want to be involved in. Also, look to someone in the sector who you can approach for a conversation to learn more about building a career in the sector.”

If you’re more interested in the wellness industry, there are many ways to build a career. “Offering services would require qualifications in technical skills,” says Divya. “[But] there are also many other opportunities to be part of the sector as it grows. Starting a business in wellness is becoming more of an accessible entrepreneurial opportunity for young women, particularly women of colour. There are communities of women forming (ours included) that women can connect into and learn from each other.”

READ MORE: These 6 Tips Will Help You Find The Right Mentor For You

Funding opportunities are available

Many impact organisations and impact funders offer internships. They’re a great way of getting to know the industry and also a great talent acquisition strategy for organisations who often, when the alignment is right, look at how you can continue to grow beyond internship with them.

Just take note… “Some organisations may not openly advertise that they’re willing to work with interns, so it’s worth doing a bit research and making contact with organisations you feel you want to gain experience with,” says Divya.

“The wellness industry also offers internships to newly qualified graduates to accumulate hours. If you’ve qualified with a technical skill, training institutions should be able to connect you to a network of companies that offer entry opportunities.”

 

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Our entrepreneurial journey began with…

1. Understanding ourselves and learning how to lead yourselves.
2. Tapping into our “why”, aka our purpose.
3. Thinking through how to create an income with our purpose.

“[These are] foundational topics that we used as a framework to build AMAZI. We still reference these topics as we continue to grow; they are so important to how we’ve navigated our entrepreneurial journey that we wanted to share these insights with other women,” says Divya.

“We’ve packaged each topic into modules where we’ve included our learnings, opportunities for you to reflect on yours and honest sharing about what we’ve experienced.”

Get more info about the AMAZI Academy and the tools they have to offer on their website.

READ MORE: “8 Things I’ve Learnt About Leading A Successful Team” – A CEO Shares Her Tips

Content is key, but so is face-to-face convo…

“Apart from the online content we offer, we believe building community in person is important, so at both our Cape Town and Johannesburg spaces we host events, masterclasses and other gatherings where we draw on women in our network to share their expertise and learnings,” says Lisa.

 

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Brown women founders are a stark minority

“The proportion of global dollars to female-only founders sits at just over to 2%. A lot of rooms we walk into have not come across a women-only founding team and re-wiring the unconscious bias most people have (where we still see the archetype of success as male) is hard work,” says Divya.

And it’s not just the access to financial capital that’s challenging, says Lisa – the social capital you need to access infrastructure, property and supply chain can also be difficult. “In general, there are still far too few women in decision-making seats, so accessing resourcing that you need to start and grow your business can become a continuous fight to justify your credibility,” adds Divya.

 

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Overcoming challenges

They’ve navigated some crazy moments while building AMAZI, says Divya. “From having close to R0 in the bank account more times than we can count and pushing our way back into a positive bank balance, to being chained out of premises by landlords that operate outside ethical bounds, to navigating burnout… Whatever we come up against, we’ve learnt that the first place we look is within ourselves,” she says.

The power duo are proof that having each other as co-founders to cry together, laugh together, challenge each other and grow together is key to their collective success.

The money-saving tip every woman should know about

Both women agree that unit trusts are a great vehicle to channel savings. “Without needing to be an expert in financial markets, they offer you a diversified position; many have reasonable liquidity options so that if you want to draw on that money, it can be accessed. Saving now could be the start-up capital you need in the future,” they say.

AMAZI was started through saving. “Having savings gives you choice and that is incredibly powerful,” says Divya. “If you want to make a career change or give yourself space to assess your next step, savings help you confidently make the decision to leave what doesn’t work for you and take your time finding where you want to be.”

 

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Words of wisdom for budding entrepreneurs

1/ Build your social capital. “The women you are currently journeying with, whether classmates, colleagues or friends, are very likely to become ‘heads of’ something one day. Nurture those relationships because before you know it, when you’re looking at starting your business or changing your career, you’ll be able to draw on that very same network for leads into funding or interviews and other opportunities,” says Divya.

2/ Know the power of “your network being your net worth”. “You only realise [this] when you look around you and see women you know sitting in decision-making chairs, changing up companies. [It’s also] important to keep actively surrounding yourself with women who want to see you succeed. That may mean finding new communities to become a part of,” says Lisa.

3/ Push yourself to seek out your tribe. “They exist! There is a tribe of women who share your values, who want to see you rise and who will celebrate you,” says Divya.

 

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Books by women of colour to read

  1. We Are The One’s We Need: The War on Black Professionals in Corporate South Africa by Sihle Bolani.
  2. The Path Made Clear: Discovering Your Life’s Direction and Purpose by Oprah Winfrey.

The importance of self-care

“There are so many ways that we show ourselves love,” says Lisa. “We both practise meditation and breathing. We exercise and we try to eat healthy. Most importantly, we get in touch with our inner child. We are silly, we laugh uncontrollably, we play with hula hoops in our office and we do whatever we feel we need to do to let go. Our journey can be heavy, so being deliberate about creating moments of joy is very important to us.”

Connect with the AMAZI Tribe

“The best place to reach out to us is LinkedIn. Connect with us personally and follow our AMAZI LinkedIn page,” says the duo.

 

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Use the discount code: gohustle15 for any of the AMAZI product purchases. Thank us later! You’ll adore the products.

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