Future of Collaboration in Activism 

By Aphelele Mtwecu

In a world where entrepreneurship is known to be lonely and mentally gruesome, collaboration becomes critical – Activator Aphelele Mtwecu 

One of the benefits of being part of the ACTIVATE! Network is meeting people who have similar goals toward building a better society. We have the privilege of combining each other’s strengths with the common understanding that we all have something to bring to the table. This experience is a lived testimony through the work of VIDA-Sparkle as you grind. Co-founded by Palesa Tshabalala and Nathancia Olivier in August 2017, VIDA is 100% black owned and women owned social entrepreneur platform that seeks to create innovative and sustainable solutions for entrepreneurs. 

‘’Our purpose was to find a platform that would help entrepreneurs network,’’ says Palesa. She mentions that one of the barriers that entrepreneurs experience is a lack of resources. With this in mind, VIDA sought to bring entrepreneurs into one room to exchange skills in their various businesses. SMME’s that are primarily in underdeveloped areas rest on the power of working together, this method encourages interdependency and accountability in comparison to competition and working in silos. 

There are key stakeholders needed to assist entrepreneurs from idea to strategy, implementation, growth and scaling. Later on in their business journey, Lerato Mokopanela joined the team as a business development strategist to assist with the abovementioned tools.

“When we joined ACTIVATE! we realised there are a lot of people with talent and skills that we can collaborate with. I’m a facilitator, Palesa is good with networking and Nathacia is the brains behind what we do,” says Lerato.

Part of her role was finding seed capital and assisting with the finances of VIDA, “Entrepreneurs struggle with finance and we have people who know about funding. We want to connect people. We are creating an environment where entrepreneurship can grow,’’ she added.

Putting their vision to action, one of the first events hosted by VIDA Sparkle called ‘’As you grind glam evenings’’ sought to bring together aspiring entrepreneurs and established businesses into one room to have open conversations and provide advice to start-ups. Among these panelists were, Simpiwe Petros a social pioneer, radio presenter and speaker, along with Patricia Stock, a Qualified chartered accountant and board of director at FASSET. These sessions allowed entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses or ideas to the panel and stand a chance of receiving seed funding for their start-up. 

VIDA outlines four important outcomes of working as a team. Firstly, working together fast tracks any process and success, through understanding each other’s strengths, they delegated tasks among the team, had their first successful event in October 2017, after only operating for a month. Secondly, collaboration allows space for people to come together, Palesa,Nathacia and Lerato came as individuals with their own networks, the merging of these networks enriched their platform and enabled them to have these inspiring events. Thirdly, coming together helps with problem-solving, Palesa and Nathacia identified a need among entrepreneurs, and later discovered the need to include sustainable financial solutions in their work by including Lerato. This small intervention allowed for more growth in discovering seed funding for start-ups.  Lastly, teamwork increases morale, one of the primary goals of VIDA is to celebrate wins no matter how small they are. Having this energy in a team keeps people driven and encouraged. Moreover, when people are enthusiastic about the work they do, it trickles down to their beneficiaries/ customers.

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