Switch Seminar 2018

By Paul Mabote

Switch it up!

Switch is a 10 month Social Entrepreneurship programme powered by Activate! Switch works to connect Activators who are social entrepreneurs to relevant stakeholders and information, while opening doors for collaboration opportunities. The 2 day annual Switch seminar took place in Maboneng, Johannesburg, which saw over 70 Switchers convene there from all over South Africa. The first day of the programme was Saturday 13 October 2018.

Press Play!

Facilitated by Nhlanhla Ndlovu and Claire Gemmill, the programme took place at Workshop 17 in Maboneng. 2015 Activator Elizabeth Molobi was one of the Switchers attending the seminar.

“More than anything, the session by Black Business Council 0n ‘The art of failing’ stood out the most for me. The message I took away from it was that ‘you never really fail, until you give up.’ Also, it reminded me of Thomas Edison’s words when he said ‘Many of life’s failures are people who did not realise how close they were to success when they gave up.”

‘Harmonise your business’

The session by BBC was one of several, prepared and delivered to Switchers by a host of stakeholders, which included NYDA and Redbull Amaphiko among others.

Belisa Rodrigues of Belle and Company facilitated a session on Social Enterprise Ecosystem in South Africa. Before asking Switchers to break away and create their own Social Enterprise ecosystem, Belinda outlined some characteristics of a social enterprise: intent, business model, profit, ownership, accountability and scale.

2017 Activator Malibongwe Shabalala said “This is the session that left the longest lasting impression on me. It spoke on how to make things work together in and around your business. It is a challenge I am currently facing in my own projects and I wish the session had gone on a little longer, I felt it ended too soon”

Trademark it!

During the seminar, De Beers offered free 20 minute long one-on-one business health-checks to Switchers.  The consultations covered issues around trademark, copywriting and intellectual property. 2017 Activator Koketso Khumbula from PTA shared about his experience with De Beers:

for the first time, I learnt that registering a company is not enough. You have to trademark your business name to protect it. A registration which can last long even after your business is liquidated.”

Let’s talk

The first day of the seminar saw a panel discussion taking place, featuring representatives from Technology Innovative Agency, NYDA, Black Business Council, Redbull Amaphiko, and Shanduka Black Umbrellas. A highly interactive session it was, and Activator Tshepo Moatshe shared his sentiments about the discussion: “It would be great if in future the panellists from their different companies and organisations would have designated help desks at the seminar where Switchers can consult with them directly.”

Where’s the Money?

Other highlights from the seminar include a Finance Session, which was hosted by Asanda Nanise who outlined points relating to costing and pricing of a business product or service; and a session by Lebohang Likgojane from Facebook, who gave useful information and tips on how to grow your business online.

Some Activators’ takes on the first Day of the Switch seminar 2018

“The seminar is proving to be a huge and productive difference to what some of us left behind at home. Next time it should be one, even two weeks long.”  –Themba Reggie Ndala, Soweto, GP


“It has been quite a journey of learning and discovery. Thank you ACTIVATE! Thank you Switch! – Maidi Madidimalo, Jabavu, GP

Day 2 : 14 October 2018

The theme for the second day of the Switch Seminar 2018 : IMPACT.

A social entrepreneur sees unobvious opportunities to make an impact in the community while making a progressive living from his “hustle”. A big part of a social entrepreneur’s arsenal is the ability to present and win pitches. Where better for an Activator and social entrepreneur to master their pitching skills than at the Switch seminar?


Enter the pitching den, where Switchers  get the opportunity to have their social business ideas “switched up” and the best pitch can win up to R20 000 towards their business. Serious.

A big congratulations to the following Switchers who won the pitching den challenge:  Elethu Nkala who won R20 000, Brian Qamata who won R15 000, Vuyokazi Ntlebi who won R10 000 and Zodwa Manintswana who won R5 000. The prizes will go to supporting their respective business ventures. All Switchers who made it to the top ten each won themselves R500 worth of airtime and data. ACTIVATE! Ingeyethu!

Winning Mindset

Elethu Nkala and Brian Qamata shared their feelings about being two of the winners in the pitching den competition.

Elethu : “Everything that exists that makes your life easier, was created by someone. If you seek to do the same, you are playing your part in making the world a better place- and it will reward you.” I am going to use the prize money to purchase a container which will function as a pizza business place and a public space to use for events and functions.

Brian: “I cried when I was announced as one of the winners because it has been an emotional journey for me, leading up to the seminar. Both my parents fell very ill recently and I almost did not make it to Maboneng from Cape Town. I did not have enough transport money. The whole experience has been humbling and has shown me that whatever obstacles you encounter in life, do not have to stop you reaching for your dreams.”

Who is around you?

Other highlights from the second day of the seminar included a powerful session by Zoe from Green Pop, a company that seeks to make green-living popular.  They plant trees in different communities and have corporate partners on board. Takeaway: “Use your connections to yours and their benefit.”

ACTIVATE! CEO Chris Mentjies stopped by to see how the seminar was going and told the story which demonstrated the power of lateral thinking.

“The power that you have to change the world, is in your mind.”

Some Activators’ takes on the 2018 Switch seminar:

“The seminar was informative, challenging and provoking. “ –   Sanele Vilakazi, Durban, KZN

“I feel the seminar should have series-like seminars, where subsequent seminars focus on the action part of Activators’ ideas.”  – Elizabeth Molobi, PTA, Gauteng.

The journey of a social entrepreneur is not an easy. Worse the journey of a young social entrepreneur. Initiatives like Switch help young people navigate through the hard, dark world of Social Entrepreneurship. Big Ups and keep on keeping on!!

Paul Mabote is a member of the ACTIVATE! Change Drivers network, a writer, an artist, learner and social entrepreneur.






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