Molweni, Philippi Village

As part of our first week in Cape Town, we had the opportunity to listen to a presentation on the importance of saying yes and no in our everyday lives. Something as simple as saying ‘yes’ to a coffee date or saying ‘no’ to a lunch break could alter our lives forever. We learned that these two words hold a lot of power, and we said our own yes' and no's throughout the first week of our professional experience.

Our Yes':

Saying yes to building relationships

Saying yes to rejecting some of our own ideas

Saying yes to diversity

Saying yes to changing direction

Our No's:

Saying no to American business strategies

Saying no to close-mindedness

Saying no to strict timelines

On the first day of work, we arrived at Philippi Village. Philippi is a massiveand impoverished township where many people set up informal settlements as their means of shelter. Many of the residents don’t have electricity, so illegal wiring is common, and you can see stray wires wherever you go. People are walking around conversing, cooking, and playing. Even though this was not a luxurious location, you could feel the sense of community as soon as you entered. Not to mention, South Africa is so beautiful that even the villages are breathtaking to look at.

Once we reached Solution Space, we finally got to meet Sibu and some of the amazing staff at Solution Space. Before we dove right into business, however, we wanted to establish a personal connection with Sibu and get to know him. We had the opportunity to learn more about his aspirations and interests, which led to a really fun jam session where he showed us popular musicians in South Africa (everyone should check out Shekhinah, specifically the song Suited). Throughout the first week, we learned that in South Africa, it is crucial to build trust between business partners. Without a relationship, there would be no business. This was not only imperative for our project, but also was a great way to have fun at work!

We were then able to dive into his business more and establish concrete objectives for our project. The next morning, we met with Sibu again to ask him questions from the day before and establish a meeting schedule for the next two weeks. Once we had our answers, we were able to create a business plan for Sibu. This plan consisted of ideas the company could pursue now, in 6 months, in 1 year, and beyond. After this, we broke into two groups for the project: operations/community and marketing. The rest of the week was a challenge as our internet and WiFi source would not work. Through this, we learned the importance of flexibility and saw the stark differences between the challenges entrepreneurs face in the U.S. and South Africa. Unreliable technology and internet really hindered the productivity of our project that first week.

We made the decision to work from home on Friday in order to finish our work. Although it was disappointing not being around the incredibly passionate staff and entrepreneurs, we were happy we could accomplish work for Sibu.

Overall, working in Solution Space the first week was very eye-opening and inspiring as we got to work hands-on with the entrepreneurs. There are no words to describe the passion these entrepreneurs have for building the community that raised them. Sibu said these key words our first day: “Impact first, growth second.” These words would serve as our guiding mantra for the rest of our project, and we still talk about these words today. After this first week, we were truly attached to Philippi Music Project, and were excited to keep working.

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