Farai Mutiwanyuka: Social Entrepreneur & Digital Transformation Architect
Award-winning business leader, social entrepreneur and digital transformation strategist.
Tell us about yourself and your career?
I am an award-winning business leader, digital transformation strategist, corporate and personal brand building advisor and thought-provoking writer. I have over 18 years of experience developing award-winning marketing strategies (digital, eCommerce, branding, public relations) for various Fortune 500 and global brands to expand market territories and stimulate revenue growth while positively impacting businesses and communities across the African continent.
I have extensive expertise in building and maintaining strong business relationships in the B-2-C, B-2-B and B-2-G environment across a number of African countries, in various industries such as Insurance, FMCG, IT and Digital, Entertainment/Broadcasting, Travel Risk Mitigation and NGO. In my corporate leadership roles, I built a knack for launching and leading efficient and cost-effective IMC strategies and public relations campaigns with proven brand growth and strengthening of organisation brand reputation, across the African continent.
Based in Johannesburg, I own one of the fastest-growing digital marketing and online reputation agencies in Africa, called Sprouting Tree Group with a client base in London, Atlanta, Lagos and Johannesburg. As the Chief Digital Transformation Architect for the group, I lead the design, building and implementation of digital transformation strategies for the group. I help organisations, brands and solo-preneurs to define and deliver digital transformation journeys, by connecting the power of new digital economies and technologies, through a collaborative and relationship-based approach. Working with business founders, CEO’s and board members, the agency’s main thrust is to design and deliver smart, sustainable, innovative digital automation and transformation models, frameworks and implementation strategies for our key global clients conducting business across Africa. We also help SMME’s and entrepreneurs to digitise and automate their businesses.
Secondly, through activities such as business coaching, mentoring, LinkedIn profile rebranding, delivering transformative digital and branding workshops, the agency also helps professional and entrepreneurial women across Africa, to increase their visibility at work or in their business so that they can get clients, speaking gigs and media features. With the now limited physical networking interactions, the aim is to build a powerful online presence for its clients. I help to bring out the smart, confident woman in you!
I am a writer and occasionally get invited to moderate or speak at various global platforms on topics relating to digital automation and transformation, and in my capacity as Founder of Destiny With Purpose, on various motivational topics for women including my experiences as an entrepreneur.
I currently serve as an international Board Member for the Bologna Support Foundation, based in Italy. The foundation is a unique international non-profit organisation committed to fundraising to support rural children under the age of sixteen suffering from dire medical conditions that require urgent life-altering surgical operations. Rural African populations face a wide range of health care issues rooted in social, economic, and political determinants.
I am a member of the Marketing Association of South Africa (MASA), and currently pursuing an MBA in strategic digital management. I hold a Bachelor of Commerce degree in Informatics and Business Management, a Post Grad Diploma in Digital Marketing, a Certification in French language studies and completed a Professional Management Development programme at GIBS, where I graduated with an award for the Best ALP (Thesis Project) in 2016.
At what point did you decide to venture into entrepreneurship and how has been the journey thus far?
The entrepreneurial road has been paved with tears, courage, ups and downs, which have helped to strengthen my resolve. My journey to where I am now was simply by staying focused and putting in the hard work.
My line of work and leap into the entrepreneurial world was inspired by two things:
One my passion for all things technology. I describe myself as a digital junkie with a high “figure-it-out” quotient. I have personally seen how digital technology has led to the growth of African SMME’s and ultimately contributed positively to economies. The importance of innovating in these times of acceleration and digital transformation cannot be articulated enough, innovation or innovative thinking is no longer a prerogative for big organisations, it’s a priority for ALL businesses, the day and age we live in is driven by constant change and as such businesses must innovate not just technically but also in the way they do business.
Secondly, I consider myself a social entrepreneur, it is my purpose and calling. The deck is stacked against black women in tech and I want to be part of the solution. Women remain under-represented in emerging tech, but more so are black women. The systemic foundation of how women are perceived and how power is defined is being challenged. However, there is still a bit of an existential crisis, the world we live in doesn’t prepare us for black women to take leaps, to be risky, to be ambitious, to dream big, to take the path towards a bigger vision in our lives. As such I want to use my technological know-how and digital expertise to help leverage technology to bring critical solutions to under-served communities. In so doing to demonstrate possibility in the seemingly impossible, that being an African woman means that I am smart enough, strong enough, beautiful enough and simply more than enough and can achieve anything I put my mind to.
Failing and re-building, low self-esteem and confidence are issues I am all too familiar with and through my courage and successes, I seek to encourage and motivate other women to find the confidence and clarity they need to grow. Also, to help women entrepreneurs who are ready to stop getting stuck and overwhelmed on the tech stuff and start focusing on their zone of genius to build a thriving business doing what they do best.
When did you embark on the entrepreneurial route and what inspired the move?
The corporate world was a natural progression from university, you see back then entrepreneurship was never presented or seen as a career option. I spent the first part of my 18 years very happy as I was doing what I loved at the time, but soon the entrepreneurial bug which I believe I inherited from my parents, began to bite, and I knew I had to answer the call, but fear of the unknown, knocked-up self-esteem and the safety net of a monthly salary held me back.
My courage came simply from God. For His word says “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. You see when God calls you for something, He equips you. He will never give you a project that He Himself doesn’t “fund”. I didn’t just come to this realisation though, in an instant, it came through many days and nights of prayer and seeking God’s wisdom and direction.
The now looks pretty blessed! I have never been this happy, and mind you happy does not mean I don’t have challenges, I do. It just means my mindset is different. I believe in myself more, I have rebuilt my shattered self-esteem and found myself again, I am confident in who I am in Christ and I am in a place where, because I trust Him, I have peace that surpasses all understanding.
Your story is inspiring, what are some of the notable achievements you have had thus far?
I have garnered several personal and career awards such as The National Advertising Awards – Best Radio Advert (Heinz baked beans) and The Hospitality Awards – Top Supplier (Heinz), an award for the Best ALP (Thesis Project) in 2016, among others.
So where to from here?
I am extremely passionate about the growth of Africa, our continent remains the only one whose digital gender gap has widened since 2013. Meeting the vision of digital transformation across the African continent, where women are leaders in innovation, tech and industry is still a long way from being realised. This is the time for black female entrepreneurs to re-think their business strategy and offerings so that their business models are agile enough to adapt to the digital transformation and the business landscape post-covid-19.
Bearing in mind that empowered women make significant contributions to leadership, job creation, economic growth and poverty alleviation around the world. Essentially, when women are self-sufficient there’s a ripple positive effect on health, education and economies because of their purchasing power
Sprouting Tree Group is working on projects to develop a coordinated strategy in ensuring the inclusion of females in the continent’s digital transformation agenda, to contribute towards triggering a new wave of innovation from women in digital. Projects that will help shape our voice to contribute towards influencing and shaping policy around this.
Secondly, our business is not just about transforming our clients’ businesses physically; it is about convincing and transforming our clients and prospects’ mindsets about the fact that digital is the future, and that it is the only way to future-proof their brands and position them for growth and expansion. As a result, more frequently than not, we find ourselves crossing-over into the change management space, a space that I have worked in, I have experience in, but I am not a true expert in. So that’s a challenge for us as a business and we are in the process of implementing a change management component to our services.
What’s your advice to others reading your story?
I would like to give some encouragement to that someone who is double minded about taking that leap into entrepreneurship especially in such uncertain times. Let nothing stop or hinder you because certain lives are tied to the fulfilment of your purpose. Go all out on your purpose, be unapologetic about it and if you haven’t found it yet, make it your purpose to find your purpose!
FACT: The right time is not in the future; the right time is and always will be NOW.
You are your own money-maker, only YOU have the power to shape your future.
The last thing you want to do is live with regrets, you are here NOW so JUST DO IT… and ask questions later!
In response to the challenges many have faced (in various spheres of life and business) because of this pandemic, I host a weekly podcast called The Purpose Cafe. Our current challenge has truly cemented in me even more that one can no longer get frivolous about life, that purpose is and will play a big part in how we get through it.
Born out of the need to inspire a modicum of normalcy, to bring hope, instil or re-instil a sense of purpose, and hopefully inspire many with my guests and topics around purpose, by analysing life issues and pulling out inferences as lessons learnt in real time. Each week guests give us a peek into their purpose-driven lives through candid conversations and authentic dialogue, as they discuss everything from the best lessons they’ve learnt, how they apply Godly and African values such as love and ubuntu, in their everyday life, African proverbs to Africans who have inspired them and everything in between.
Secondly, My first love is music! Music in any form… I absolutely love to sing, I am currently learning how to play the guitar, and although my career has not led me in that direction, I STILL have dreams of one day holding that Grammy (wink, wink).
Connect with Farai (click the links):
Instagram: @phari_africa / @sproutingtreegroup / @the_purposecafe
LinkedIn: Farai Mutiwanyuka
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