Branson Centre alumni Lesego Malatsi debuts at London Fashion Week’s Fashion Finest Renaissance Sept 2011
Lesego Malatsi, co-founder of Mzanzi Designers Emporium and alumni of the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Johannesburg, participated in the London Fashion Week’s Fashion Finest Renaissance, the official off-site event to the premium shows. The only South African to take part, Malatsi joined 10 other designers from Nigeria, the UK, USA, Angola, Zambia and Ghana on 17 September, 2011 to showcase their emerging talent to the world.
Malatsi says, “Being able to participate in this esteemed event was such an honour. It was phenomenal to share our country’s unique creativity, energy and vibrancy. The Branson Centre’s support and practical advice, has given me the confidence to succeed and create jobs for many people.”
Hailing from Soweto, Malatsi says his success as an up-and-coming fashion designer wasn’t an over-night success story.
“Like many young South Africans, when I finished my studies I couldn’t find a job. So I started my own business instead. However, finding support to help me launch my fashion label wasn’t easy so I approached the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship and received many networking opportunities to promote my business.”
That was in 2006. Today, Malatsi employs 18 people, has a store in Maponya Mall, Soweto and exports apparel to a fashion store in Regent Street, Cambridge, UK where he was ‘discovered’ by the London Fashion Week team after they saw his work at a local event.
“A core function of the Branson Centre is to facilitate opportunities for our alumni to network and gain skills from mentors in their industry, be they local or international” explains Tracey Webster, CEO of the Branson Centre, South Africa. “As such, our UK team jumped on board to help Lesego prepare for London Fashion Week.”
Webster goes on to say that entrepreneurship is about creating sustainable employment for others by working with them to maximise opportunities. “For example, we connected Lesego with two other Branson Centre entrepreneurs Freda Sebolai; Eclectic Collaborations and Folake Adejuyigbe; Lord's Hats & Accessories, who designed the collection’s accessories, jewellery and hats.”
Another player in Malatsi’s entrepreneurial success is Nina Quiros. An American entrepreneur who is part of the Virgin Unite global community of entrepreneurs, Nina came to South Africa in November 2010 and spent three months with Lesego at the Branson Centre. Today she is regularly involved in connecting him with new business opportunities.
“In a country where unemployment is rampant and youth have little hope for their futures, we believe stimulating entrepreneurship is critical to boosting employment and fostering long-term economic growth. Lesego is testament to this vision and we are so proud of how far he has come as a South African fashion designer and entrepreneur,” Webster concludes.
Branson Centre Young Upstarts Report (YUR) June 2011
Johannesburg June 2010 - The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship revealed its first national 'Young Upstarts Report', a research study into SA youth and their attitudes towards entrepreneurship.Headline findings are that young South Africans need local role models and mentors to help them start businesses. They also recognise that they need more skills and support in facing the numerous challenges of being their own boss.
65% of young people are keen to start their own business, with 8% off them planning to do so within the next year and 19% indicating that they 'have a business idea, but have not yet done anything about it'.
For more information on the YUR, check out the footage from some of the South African youth interviewed, as well as the full report and press release.
View the full 60 page Young Upstarts Report here (8.85MB)
View the Young Upstarts Report Press release
Young Upstarts: To be bossed about or be the boss?
Young Upstarts: What part do role models and mentors play?
Young Upstarts: What challenges face young entrepreneurs?
Young Upstarts: How do your dreams differ from reality?
Young Upstarts: What are the challenges women face?
The study was commissioned by Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group, which funds the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship.
The research was conducted by Instant Grass, a youth insight company, and covered in-depth conversations between Instant Grass and its network of over 100 'grasses' and a face-to-face quantitative survey of more than 800 young people, 16-35 years of age in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
© 2005-2011 The Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship