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Say hello to Sasha-Lee Taylor, a 23-year-old who is determined to make the lives of South Africa’s youth a little better. How? By offering them the opportunity to gain one of life’s most basic skills – the ability to read.

It is possible to turn your passion into reality. Here’s how Sasha-Lee did it…

First off, Sasha-Lee isn’t your ‘typical’ millennial… She’s a smart entrepreneur with a burning passion for education and giving back to the community. “[My] passion for education came at an early age and just stuck with me,” she says. For the past couple of years, she’s been working towards turning her passion into a reality – becoming the author of an educational children’s book.

“I wrote the book with the intention to involve every South African child; I wanted everyone to be able to relate to the story and characters. Each book has a theme in the beginning that continues throughout the book. But most importantly, there is an educational section within the book that actually teaches the children how to read and how to write – in this section, repetition was used to make it easier for the children. Also, very basic English sentences were used throughout the book, which is beneficial for each child wanting to learn how to read,” Sasha-Lee explains.

SashaBookSolving a problem through education

“I noticed that there were many children, even young adults, who are illiterate, and that’s how the ‘Learn to Read, Learn to Lead’ idea was born,” she says. This campaign gained so much traction that it landed Sasha-Lee a seat in Parliament, at the National Youth Summit, where she heard children as young as 10 ask the ministers for equal education opportunities. That was the moment she realised there was a huge educational gap in South Africa. “Learn to Read, Learn to Lead” is an attempt to bridge that gap for all South Africans.

For her stellar work, Sasha-Lee was awarded the Young Leader in Philanthropy award by the CEO of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund at the National Youth summit – an award aimed at recognising a “Nelson Mandela in every generation”; an individual who’s doing good for their community and giving back.

Sasha-Lee completed a degree in Social Sciences with a double major in Psychology and Marketing, a course that really helped her in business. “I work and engage with a lot of people on a daily basis; the psychology background helped me understand the people I deal with on an intellectual and emotional level.” The marketing skills helped her grow and expand her business and personal brand to ensure that her book reached all deserving hands.

READ MORE: Using The Digital Space To Share African Stories

How to overcome the “funding” problem

Many can attest that finding funding for anything in our country is no walk in the park, and Sasha-Lee’s journey was no different. “Initially, the book was self-funded, with the help of my family,” she says. But they’re currently looking for sponsors to mass produce the book and get it into even more deserving hands. It’s currently available to purchase – 50% of the net profit from the book is split equally between the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and the Tshwane Child Welfare Fund. “These organisations are doing amazing things to help our youth, and this is my way of building on the legacy of Nelson Mandela,” says Sasha-Lee.

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

Writing educational books isn’t the only thing keeping Sasha-Lee busy…

She’s also the owner of a modelling agency. “I started coaching modelling from my garage just out of high school and later went on to run [a pageantry school] for three years. I’ve just become the director of ACE Models West Rand, which I’m excited about,” she says.

“I started it because I was a very shy child and was put into modelling to help me gain confidence – I fell in love with the industry and the fact that it’s so much more than walking on a stage or dressing in a pretty dress. I aspire to help all those shy individuals gain that self-confidence they need to achieve their ultimate dreams one day.”

Want to publish a book? Here are Sasha-Lee’s 5 tips…

1/ “Just do it” – don’t overthink it, go for it.
2/ Do your research. Get prepared. Ask for advice.
3/ Get a great PR team on board.
4/ Always remember which market you’re catering for. Stay true to yourself.
5/ Jump in head-first – it will be so rewarding in the end and you will learn a lot throughout the process.

Connect with Sasha-Lee

Twitter: Sasha-LeeTaylor

Instagram: sashataylor21

Facebook: sashaleetaylor21

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