I have always been interested in economic development and wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. But to develop the economy, one needs to invest in entrepreneurs, which is what the start-up that I work for aims to do. But it is an intimidating environment as most of the clients we approach are in the financial sector. And most of the time I am the only woman present at the meetings.
The start-up’s aim is to design trips for entrepreneurs who, for one week, give up their control to me. For that week, I will take high-powered individuals on a trip that will inspire them to expand their business, create partnerships and employ more individuals.
The first trip I led was a test. It was in October and we went to Helsinki, Finland, to look at the built environment — we were trying to see what smart cities looked like. We had a bunch of engineers, contractors and architects in a 15-person group. The trip was a kind of sabbatical for the entrepreneurs, to get them to think about the future of their businesses, and it was a success.
I remember looking around a boardroom and seeing people working together, finding insight from the talks and sessions they were in, and then I overheard how one entrepreneur was going to help another. Two of the entrepreneurs from that trip even landed a big tender when they returned to South Africa.
This was a moment of pride for me. I felt that I had done my job because I had helped to inspire people. — Shirley Moihloe (26), experience lead at En-novate, as told to Gemma Ritchie