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Afriversity's Natasha Avidan on Developing African Entrepreneurs, and Following Her Heart

Afriversity is a non-profit organisation founded in Sweden in 2008 with the mission to train, educate, support as well as provide incubation for aspiring African entrepreneurs.
Afriversity’s mission is to create and support a new breed of world class, socially responsible, global entrepreneurs that will help Africa prosper in the new millennium.
Below is a Q & A with Natasha Avidan - Head of Partnerships, Sponsors & Communications - Founding Fellow of Afriversity, who tells us more about this inspiring project, following her heart, and what it means to her:
How did you become involved with Afriversity?
"Simple...I fell in love...I fell in love with the project and I fell in love with South Africa. One of my guiding principles in life has been to follow my heart and my heart was leading me to South Africa.

I was working for an IT company in Sweden when I met the founder of Afriversity
. Running a marketing department for a global IT company was challenging but I felt that I needed another project. Something that was driven by passion, inspiration and was aimed at making a difference in people’s lives. I have been lucky enough to meet a handful of people in my life journey that guided me, helped me grow, made me challenge myself or simply appreciate and embrace myself as a strong and driven woman.

It would be wonderful for everyone to have this opportunity and I will try my hardest to pay forward what I have received.

Many people give up before even trying. We must help others around us to be strong and believe in themselves and their abilities. Every one of us can make a difference.
Take the examples of Mother Theresa, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi..these are individuals who set out to help.
They didn't think about being one person out to change the world but they thought about making the world a better place by influencing others to help change the world.
I believe that everyone can change the world, if each of us performs one random act of kindness at least once a day.

It all starts with YOU and YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!"
How has Afriversity helped develop business in Africa?
"Afriversity is a not-for-profit organisation working to release existing entrepreneurial potential in Africa. The programme offers a practical and individualised entrepreneurial development course that combines hands-on business education, training and incubation, designed to help budding entrepreneurs.

is impact focused. We use action-based learning to empower individuals to act entrepreneurially from the word “go”. Individuals create companies and companies create jobs.
Afripreneurs will lead ventures, creating new and sustainable jobs for their local communities.
As these ventures “pay it forward” they will grow to be sustainable and socially responsible companies participating in the global economy.

Empowering individuals to believe, trust and know that they can do it (start a company, grow a company) and that they have the potential to lift themselves and their communities out of unemployment and into the world market.

We WILL change mindsets and build CONFIDENCE
Tell us about some of the success stories:
"Over 100 entrepreneurs have now graduated from the first step of our programme and the feedback has been overwhelming.
One of our most recent success stories has been JO´M Cosmetics  owned by a married couple, Johannah and Solomon Moriti. They offer a Skin Care range and Hair Care range that are carefully produced with plant extracts combined with 100% Natural Essential Oils.

was suggested to them at a time when they needed to grow their business and they participated in our Business Strategic Planning programme. The combination of mentorship and incubation attracted them to the Afriversity approach and they had already heard of our mentors and their proven track record!

In May of this year, they were selected as finalists to compete on the final round of the Global Entrepreneurship Competition
that took place during the Summit HiT Barcelona 2010, on the 17th of June.  It was a great achievement and we are so proud of their progress."
"Ludwick Marishane is another of the entrepreneurs that Afriversity is currently supporting. Ludwick is working on developing a solution to solve a massive hygiene problem that millions of Africans are facing. His passion is his addiction to learning and mentoring others to help them release their potential...and he is only 19!
These individuals and their dreams are what inspire us and gives us the energy and passion to continue!"
What have you learnt from your involvement with Afriversity, and how have you grown?
"Leaving the rat race and getting involved with a non-profit organisation was a big change for me. It isn’t about padding your resume, it isn’t about doing things so that you can boast about them later. It is about gaining a greater understanding of our humanity and appreciation for the individuals that are sometimes “invisible” in our communities.
During my last trip to South Africa, I visited a rehabilitation centre for young boys. Their backgrounds were all different and each story more devastating than the previous but after talking to each one individually I was humbled by the amount of hope and faith that flowed through them.
One boy of 14 explained to me how he has set up a theater group for the children in the local community so that they had an activity that kept them off the streets and encouraged them to learn and understand the importance of self expression.
When I complimented him on his wonderful contribution, he simply shrugged his shoulders and continued to tell me about all the other ideas he had. His simple shrug expressed so much to me. He did not understand the magnitude of his actions. Most teenage boys that I know would be worrying about which new computer game to buy rather than teaching a community of children.
These are the spirits that inspire me. These are the “invisible” people that must be acknowledged.
Working with Afriversity, puts me out of myself and forces me to see a different part of myself, which is important to me. Self development is crucial and I believe that we grow through change.  This project has pushed me to step outside of my comfort zone and taught me to take more initiative.
When you put yourself in situations that you might not have been in before, it enriches your life. You may have questions going into a project but you come out with more than you expected.
It has also taught me to be myself. When helping people or making a difference, there is no time to be self-conscious. The most important lesson is to listen to your heart.
Unfortunately, we are so programmed and trained in our thoughts and methods of thinking that when our heart does speak to us, we simply do not listen  and then become confused by the conflicting feelings caused by our heart versus our mind.
All we need to do is listen, follow and have a little faith."
How can people get involved and assist?
  • Become a Donor / Sponsor
"We are currently looking for sponsors in order to keep the participation fee down for the entrepreneurs. Contact us if you are interested in supporting the most driven and creative developers and entrepreneurs in Africa!"
  • Mentor an “Afripreneur”
"The Afriversity mentoring programme matches your skills with one or more small businesses in Africa and organises a mentoring placement. This allows you to make a real difference, even in a few weeks".
  • Participate as a Guest Speaker
"You can volunteer to be a Guest Speaker in your area of expertise. Share your ideas, insights and expertise with the entrepreneurs."
  • Adopt a project
"We created a sponsor option through which donors can choose to fund a specific project."
  • Offer Internship
"Can you or someone you know offer a current student the chance to gain vital experience in the workplace? We are always seeking new and exciting placements for our Afripreneurs."
  • Make an Introduction
"If you know people at corporations, foundations and other places that you think might be interested in learning about us, please let us know by emailing me" nna@afriversity.org
  • Volunteer
"Our volunteers are a fundamental part of our success. Thanks to their dedication, passion, and commitment to our mission, we are able to offer opportunities to those in need while keeping our overhead low. We're always looking for new volunteers!"
Email Natasha: nna@afriversity.org
Afriversity Website: http://www.afriversity.org/
Afriversity Blog: http://afriversity.blogspot.com
Afriversity on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sc8Fxs3el5k

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Bettina! It has been such a privilege meeting you and learning how you inspire so many people every day. Let´s continue to feed the Glow!
    Much Love, Natasha