Mo Malele is a doer of many things, a wearer of many hats and a lover of people! As a poet, recording artist, award winning entrepreneur, wordsmith extraordinaire and content producer she has no shortage of creativity and determination. I recently interviewed Mo and have been left inspired…
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
With a finance and accounting background, I often describe myself as a creative at heart but with a business brain. I am a poet, recording artist, award winning entrepreneur, wordsmith extraordinaire and content producer. My dynamic personality has led me to build a career in a wide array of industries as I pursue all things that inspire, grow, and challenge me, as well as contribute positively to my community. My poetry style can be described as conscious, self-aware, self-reflective, critical, and extremely honest as I tackle various social issues like love, loss, mental health, hope, politics, economics, inequality and much more through my poetry and challenge my listeners to live life to their fullest potential as the best versions of themselves.
Please tell us about your events company.
NK Innovations is a creative, dynamic and innovative marketing and events agency that delivers problem solving solutions and always exceeds expectation. We are a young but experienced team of highly ambitious marketing professionals. As a marketing agency we offer a wide array of ATL and BTL services, including event and project management. We have a unique ability to reach and engage with diverse consumer groups across South Africa, with relevant and receptive brand messaging that delivers ROI accretive campaigns for our clients.
What is Shopapolitan?
The expanded unemployment rate in SA sits at 42.6%, meaning almost half our workforce is economically inactive, majority of which are in townships and rural communities. We know that we need to stimulate the economy in order to create jobs and the only way to do that is through the creation of profitable, sustainable, tech-enabled businesses. Many of these entrepreneurs lack the infrastructure, resources, knowledge, and funding required to implement tech in their businesses. This is where we come in – our vision is to build economically self-sustainable communities by making innovative tech affordable and accessible to township and rural based businesses and in doing so help them to techify and digify their business. How do we do this? In a word Shopapolitan. Shopapolitan is an end-to-end e-commerce marketplace that gives township and rural based businesses everything they need to operate a profitable e-commerce business. We offer:
- a safe, secure, and compliant platform and payment gateway.
- Data analytics & Digital marketing services.
- Distribution and Logistics management.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you face with Shopapolitan?
The challenges we face are the very same challenges that inspired the Shopapolitan business concept which continues to drive us despite the roadblocks; lack of access to market opportunities, lack of funding and necessary infrastructure to take advantage of available opportunities. Many of these we have overcome to some extent in order to get to where we are today, however our biggest challenge is still funding to launch the platform on a wider scale so we can reach more communities, merchants and customers.
What or who inspired the Shopapolitan concept?
Entrepreneurs and small business owners like us, who have great ideas, ambition and hard work ethic to match those great ideas, but have little to no access to markets, opportunities, resources, infrastructure, knowledge, networks and funding required to bring those ideas to life. Ironically enough, we draw inspiration and motivation from our challenges and pain points as well as those of our fellow hustlers, dreamers, entrepreneurs and small business owners.
What or who has kept you going during the pandemic?
Honestly speaking, a brutal understanding that I am back against the wall, stuck between a rock and a hard place, shipwrecked or plane-wrecked in the middle of nowhere and no-one is coming for me…no-one is coming to save me. If I am to survive, I will have to save myself, and the only way to do that is to hustle hard, hustle smart, hustle relentlessly, hustle humbly but hustle like my life depended on it because it did! And I always say the hustle never stops, it just changes form! So, keep hustling!
You are a poet, recording artist and content producer, what inspires your creativity?
Everything and everyone I get to experience! I believe that as a creative, inspiration is everywhere, provided you are listening and tuned in…provided you are conscious and aware of the life you are living. If you live on autopilot, you will miss the creative inspiration that lives hidden in the seemingly mundane moments of life. I am also inspired by how as ordinary people we all have a little bit of extraordinariness in us and if we just gave into that the world would be filled with ordinary people living their truth and creating extraordinary things, we can all experience and benefit from. The idea of living in a world where we are all consciously and constantly striving to live life as our truest and best selves both excites and inspires me because therein lies the magic!
You have a new album in the works, please could you tell us a bit about it and how it differs from your last album ‘My Country Needs Me.’
For starters ‘My Country Needs Me’ was my first album and producing that project independently taught me a lot about the business of music and what it takes to release a proper project you can be proud of, so you can definitely expect to see those “business of music” lessons learnt coming through in this album. This new album will be different in a couple of ways; 1) I am producing all the beats on it. 2) This is most likely going to have more visuals attached to it and if all goes well it will also be a visual album. 3) It is going to be shorter than the previous one and a lot more personal for all of us, not just me! 4) A lot of the pieces were written during Covid so it will be very Covid relevant.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs who are starting out?
- Fail forward, fail fast and implement the lessons prospectively…don’t torture yourself over the past.
- When they say no, you say next and don’t be afraid to punch above your weight!
- It’s ok if you don’t hit gold the first time you start digging. It doesn’t mean there isn’t gold, just that you must dig deeper, longer and differently.
- BELIEVE! Believe in yourself, your team, your idea, your project, your market etc, whatever it is, BELIEVE IN IT! And when you don’t believe, put your head down and WORK AT IT, until you believe in it again!
- Be conscious and aware of the life you are living and the business you are building. This will help you identify the pivots and see the gaps earlier.
- If you are getting paid in exposure or experience, find ways to monetize/commercialise that exposure/experience…remember the bank doesn’t take exposure cheques.
- Your network is your net worth! Find a tribe of like-minded, like-hearted people and build your social capital because they will help you build your financial capital.
- The best way to create value is to first give away value! So don’t think of what you are losing when you are giving, focus on what you are gaining by giving and that will help you create incremental value.
- HAVE FUN! Live and work your passion! Work is an integral part of life and life is an integral part of work. Find ways, projects, people, activities to bring the 2 into harmony where your passion is at the centre of both, and they will become 1! Which in my philosophical opinion is the only way life should be lived and businesses should be built. Life and work should be in harmony with each other.