Young Minds

Zanele Mabaso Interview

Zanele Mabaso2Who is Zanele?
My name is Zanele Mabaso from the largest town in  Kwa-Zulu Natal – Newcastle, residing in Pretoria, Gauteng. I’m a Varsity College Alumni and a Marketing Management Graduate Student from the Institute of Marketing Management, Graduate School of Marketing (IMM GSM) . My drive for social change began with volunteering at various and numerous non-profit organisations within South Africa at the age of 16 doing random volunteer labour activities and later offering marketing and business strategy  analysis services to non-profit organisations at 19 on a voluntary basis. The  experience learnt and skills enhanced from it lead me to founding The Young Social Entrepreneurs Academy, whilst managing the academy, I work to empower, inspire and lead young women as the Board Chairperson of Young Women Social Entrepreneurs (YWSE) South African Chapter. At 21 years old have managed to be the Ambassador and Lead Mentor for Project 90×2030, Marketing and Social Media Guru for internationally re-nounced non-profit, The Khulula Foundation, active volunteer member of the Reach for a Dream foundation and member of the Golden Key International Honary Society that recognises individuals who achieve academic, leadership and service excellence.
You are the chairperson of Young Women Social Entrepreneurs please tell us more about this initiative.
YWSE is an international organisation founded by 2 young women over 12 years ago in Washington DC which currently has 9 chapters around the world namely Washington DC, Miami, San Fransisco, New York City, Kenya, Portland, Los Angeles, Ghana and recently launched in Afganistan. The aim of YWSE is to provide an environment to young women social entrepreneurs visions’ and goals are affirmed, supported, promoted and propelled. With that in South Africa provide a platform  where they attend workshops, seminars and annual conference organised and facilitated by The Young Social Entrepreneurs Academy (YSEA) to network, share innovative solutions to social development of the young women in the country as well as provide a space for growth of their social enterprises. As the Founder of Young Social Entrepreneurs Academy saw the gap in having a network specifically for women social entrepreneurs in South Arica and collaborated with the international organisation to start a chapter in south Africa, with its inception being the board chair of YSEA South Africa, looking forward to the official launch of the organisation on the 23rd of November 2013 where we invite all young social entrepreneurs, aspiring change makers, change agents, female owners of small business enterprises and individuals who have projects aimed for social impact addressing social needs, this includes owners and committee members of non-profitable organisations and students venturing into social enterprises around Gauteng and the south African economy. YWSE aims to be a leading community of women in South Africa reaching for greater good through social, economic and entrepreneurial development.


Recently you were selected as one of the 26 women in the world to attend and represent South African women at the Young Women’s International Leadership Summit in Washington DC, please tell us more about this initiative and the subsequent selection.
After months devoted to deliberation and rigorous re-evaluation process from thousands of applications from women interested in participating in the summit, was selected as one of 26 women from around the world to be a delegate representing young women in South Africa. The international Leadership Summit served as an incubator for women leaders creating impact in their respective communities and facilitated professional leadership training where powerful women leaders from around the United States of America flew in from different states to inspire, motivate and assist with the development of our social enterprises. Through the summit got the opportunity to engage in an interactive discussion with a business and media panel that consisted of successful business owners and CEO’s of internationally re-nowned organisations such as Warren Thompson The president and Chairman of Thompson Hospitality Cooperation, The president and founder of Women Presidents Organisation Dr Marsha Firestone, Anna Sarnoff of BBC Worldwide and Catherine Cook a 23 year old Graduate from Georgetown University who was listed under Forbes as one of the Most successful people under the age of 30 she is the founder of MeetMe a social networking application with more than 100 million members, to name a few.

Selected as one of 5 women of the 26 selected delegates to be invited to the Senate of the United States, to represent women from developing and developed countries by participate in a roundtable discussion that was lead by Hilary Clintons closest advisors Ambassador Melanne Verveer joined by women ambassadors to the united states and senior representatives of international organisations involved in the development of Young women. To interactively come up with solutions on how we can motivate the current generation of women leaders around the world and get more women to contribute to their respective countries social, economic and entrepreneurial sectors, to its success was followed by a reception honouring women leaders held the  US Capitol Building, where I had the privilege of meeting with Mrs Lwazi Mbongo the 3rd secretary of Socio-Economic Development from the South African Embassy in Washington DC, Mpule Kwelagobe the CEO of the Mpule Institute of Endogenous Development and Executive Producer and Managing Editor of Women in the World, Kyle Gibson, to name a few.
What did  you hope to share about SA and Africa at the YWILS in the US?
We have a lot of young women in south Africa working towards social development and contributing towards the economic prosperity through small to medium business enterprises, though the percentage of women involved in business in RSA is relatively low, need to collaborate with various organisations from around the world that can assist with growing our economies development for our women. Also touching on pressing challenges that the women face that largely contribute to the low percentage of women change makes in the country such as the high teenage pregnancy rate that increases on a daily basis, corruption and crime, high youth unemployment rate, shortage of job opportunities for youth in the country and relative challenges that effect youth and women in South Africa and determining solutions to incubate those effected by the so we produce a generation of women leaders.
How do you plan to use your participation to impact on your community and country?
By launching the Young Social Entrepreneurs Academy and providing academic literacy on essentials of social enterprise development and social entrepreneurship to address social needs. The academy aims to also provide a platform for social entrepreneurs and aspiring change makers and  agents to meet on common grounds and determine ideas and innovative solutions to pressing challenges and implement them to current operations or systems to ensure that a maximum number of people benefit from its inception. Currently The Young Social Entrepreneurs Academy has a project called “IMPACT!” that aims to tackle the staggeringly high  unemployment rate amongst the youth of Gauteng where we encourage the unemployed youth and graduates to engage in career orientated volunteerism by providing skills development training through a workshop and then allocate the members to charities within their communities to do voluntary work, where the outcome is to not only to gain valuable work experience to secure job opportunities and potentially start their own social enterprises but they also actively engage and contribute to the successful development of their communities.

Back in South Africa after the Summit. What would you like to share?
The summit has opened new doors for me and has exposed me to a number of business leaders and representatives of multi-national companies of which I foresee collaboration with in the future and knowing that they are there to support the uprising of young women in business and social development with their projects in their respective countries, has made me feel more empowered to be a catalyst for change and motivate more young people to fully engage in leadership development  initiatives, workshops, conferences and summits aimed at professional and personal development.
It was with a humble and honoured heart to have accepted the invitation form the united States Embassy in South Africa to a town hall meeting to engage in an interactive conversation with President Obama about his vision for strengthening partnerships between the United States and African and deepening the United States investment in Africa’s people, primarily focusing on the youth, that will be held at the University of Johannesburg, Soweto Campus on the 29th July 2013.
What would you say is holding young people back to achieve their dreams or become successful in what they do?
I believe It is primarily negative thoughts and fear to take risks. One should not be afraid to dream but ensure that they have goals and objectives to ensure that they accomplish the mission that leads to their aspired dream/vision for the future. Young people tend to fear taking risks and get caught up when faced with challenges in most cases is caused due to lack of guidance, mentorship and motivation. Young people have the ability to do great things and it can be done, all that is needed in most cases is motivation and inspiration from leaders that have gone through the same challenges to assist them with working forward towards reaching desired goals. The lack of coherent resources and in most cases financial ability also cripples the youth from obtaining the desired results but yet again through accurate and rigorous research one will realise that the resources, finance and information is available to them, they just need to look for the platforms that avail such resources to them.
Who are your top 3 role models in Africa?
Wendy Luhabe a South African Business woman, social entrepreneur and author, Mpule Kwelagobe former Miss Universe from Botswana, social entrepreneur and CEO of Mpule Institute for Endogenous Development and Ndidi Nwuleni a Powerful young Social Entrepreneur from Nigeria.

What are your favourite hangout spots in SA?
The hub Johannesburg, Cappuccinos in Menlyn and LaMocha Restaurant  in Johannesburg
What music are you listening to?
I’m  Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce fanatic. I listen to their angelic voices day in, day out.

What advice do you have for young people who want to start their own projects?
Do critical research and planning before you start organising the who, where, what and how. After organising, implement your project and ensure that though you plan big and dream big, it is important to act small so you can measure the impact of your implementation, there after you can expand and elevate your project to greater heights. Regardless of the challenges you will face and risks you will be exposed to, continue working towards your vision and work smart!
How can people connect with you (Facebook, twitter, website and etc)?
On Facebook they can like the page : The Young Social Entrepreneurs Academy link is
On twitter they can follow me on @YSEAcademy

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