6 lessons so far from the South Africa Challenge 2013

The South Africa Challenge is not only an opportunity to go out to South Africa for a two week learning experience, but further than this an opportunity to learn constantly in the build up and after the 2 weeks are over.

1) Network


It is incredible how many opportunities come up when you focus and start talking about what you are trying to achieve. During the time in the run up to the South Africa Challenge I have had the opportunity to speak to and work with: South Africa Airways, Absa Bank, Hackthehackathon, Loughborough University, NACUE, Enactus, Simventure, The Durban Business club (linkedin), Accenture to name a few. However, as the saying goes it’s not “what you know, it’s who you know…” But as a good friend of mine, Mark Corbett, taught me “it’s not what you know, or who you know, it’s what you do with who you know?”. I guess this has been an area that I have not achieved as much as I might have hoped. I really have had some fantastic contacts and I don’t think I have focused enough on developing these links.

2) Just do it

As a part of the process I decided to read Tim Ferriss’s book the 5 hour work week. It has been fascinating, one of the key concepts I took from it was that often in life you need to just get on and do stuff. If you ask for permission so many people tell you the millions of reasons why something can’t be done. I often found that actually I committed to do something it happened. This was interestingly then followed on in another way from Gori in the phrase be unreasonable… It is another intruging concept that I very much look forward to learning more about from Gori.

3) Focus & passion


During the time  I have been involved I have also been holding down a full time job and working on, at any one time, between 1 and 3 other startup ideas as welll as trying to keep fit and have a social life. It’s been a challenge there is no doubt about it. However, what I have found from all of them is that if I am really committed, that doesn’t mean a million hours or lots of money, and have my head really focused they tend to really push forward. Commitment is key.

4) Leadership

Being a leader is hard. Even if everything in your life is crazy busy you still must have the time allocated to listen to your team and understand their problems. At the same time there are some key ways to minimise this:

-be proactive- take the time to prepare minutes and your thoughts before meetings as it reduces the time of the meeting so much

-Don’t be led by emails- only have the emails open twice a day max at two set times. That way you have the things you need to get done out the way before everyone else tells you what they want you to do. Often emails are much less urgent that they make out. (There are of course exceptions)

-Accessibility is a perception- it doesn’t mean you are available 24/7 to help and answer questions but that you will respond and complete your tasks in a reasonable time period.

-mission- it is almost impossible to follow someone elses mission if they don’t clearly define what it is they are trying to achieve. There needs to be clear boundaries in who is doing what so that everything gets done and you have to trust the team to complete their area and don’t cover for them if they don’t. (otherwise the problem gets worse and worse over time)

5) Be transparent


It doesn’t matter if you get stuff wrong, failure is the way we all learn and operate as human beings.  The problem is that there are so many people that are willing to coast there way through life on the occasional white lie now and then. The truth is that when someone lies to you you normally know and actually would appreciate the honesty and criticism much more to your face. It is often actually miscommunication that causes breakdown from the white lies.

6) Cultures

Culture is an incredible thing. There is something to be said for the incredible power that is the internet. We have been able to share files, phone calls and multiple emails with many parties in South Africa but the truth is to truly understand the culture you have to be there. In all of the correspondence over online methods your mind auto pilots to so many assumptions that are only actually challenged in person. The depth of understanding is the way in which i hope we will be able to make a real change in these projects.

7) Goals then Reflection

Something I have never really grasped until this project is the understanding of why you need goals. It seems so simple to me now… Without the goals no one else knows what they are working towards and the truth is you forget as well over time from all the influencers around you. Because of my lack of understanding of why I needed to set goals I had also never had the opportunity to really reflect in detail. Reflection has been such a big part of my year with so many new things and also learning to make new mistakes from the team last year rather than making the same ones again. It has also given me an opportunity to start to set new goals that I would never have thought relevant like making sure I come home on time 3 days a week so I can have more social life because then I work better at work.

And all this is before I even leave, I am sure there will be many lessons to come…

Sharing my thoughts on the collaborative economy

As a part of the South Africa Challenge development process we have all agreed to research a particular trend that we see as important over the next 10 years.

After flirting around with ideas of: big data, virtual currency and 3d printing I decided to focus on a combination of the sharing/ collaborative economy. I find all the topics fascinating but after the LeWeb conference on the sharing economy it is an area I would really like to find more about.

So what is the sharing (collaborative) economy?

The sharing economy is about utilising technology in order to achieve efficiency gains by creating access to under-used goods, services, data and talent. The industry has been pioneered by the likes of AirBnb, Etsy, Task Rabbit and Zipcar. All of these companies work in completely different industries and are all equally disruptive to competitor companies within the industry.

Some examples of the Sharing economy.

Crowdfunding: Off the back of this movement a number of different crowdfunding platforms have been built. A crowdfunding platform allows the audience to support a cause either because they believe in or because of a physical reward they receive. Some of the biggest platforms include Kickstarter and indiegogo which raise millions for the ideas. These platforms have made funding more accessible both in terms of the beneficiary and in terms of the investors.

Virtual Currency: Bitcoin or other similar online currencies is another example of the sharing economy. Bitcoin refers to both the digital unit of stored value and the peer-to-peer network of computers transmitting and validating transactions of these units. The project was publicly launched in January 2009, by a mysterious inventor using the pseudonym “Satoshi Nakamoto,” whose identity is still a mystery. For the first couple of years, it was mostly just a novelty for computer geeks, hackers, and idealistic anarchists. (Coinlab) This technology has become more mainstream during the economy downturn with the distrust in governments and policy makers driving it’s growth. The network is supported by the “crowd” mining for coins which supports the network infrastructure.


So that’s what is happening now but where is it going?

As these industries continue to be disrupted with more and more industries being tackled it seems a matter of time until the concept becomes more mainstream if it is not already. There is an argument that with an economic upturn such industries become less desirable however, the trend towards environmental responsibility should allow it to buck the trend. Collaborative consumption is a growing market but as of yet it is certainly not globally mainstream as such the infrastructure needs to be developed to make it global. There are websites coming up such as collaborative consumption which aim to act as a directory for these services but I think this will develop further in the future.

Further to this, in the developing countries the growth of these type of industries will be vital in the management of their scarcity of resources. This will particularly come relevant in industries such as the automotive and transport industry as a whole due to the current reliance on fossible fuels and other non-renewable resources. However, I feel it will be equally desired in other products and services industries as a part of this desire to maintain/ grow standard of living whilst these resources become more stretched.

To find out more about the industry have a look at my review from LeWeb and make sure to keep up to date with Mesh, Coin Desk and the people who share. As well as researchers of the space such as Jeremiah Owyang.


In April 2012 I was attended the NACUE leaders summit in London along with a group of over 100 incoming and outgoing enterprise  society leaders from across the UK. It was at this event that I was first introduced to Hadrian via Gori Daniel, a mentor I had admired since the NSEC (national student enterprise conference) in 2011.


Hadrian spoke of a project that aimed to take a team of students from the UK to South Africa for a leadership challenge and cultural exchange with a promise of a changed life on your return. I was absolutely blown away and felt I had found an opportunity to visit a country my grandparents, who had sadly recently passed away, wanted me to visit and fall in love with as they had all those years before.

My Family

After a couple of weeks of debate over dates and money a team began to form and I was devastated to learn I had to drop out because of exam schedules.

I thought this was where my South Africa challenge story would end….

After a summer of change at home, I decided this was my time to follow my passions and interests as simply life is too short. So in around September of 2012, after seeing the programme for 2012, I decided to contact Hadrian to see what the plans were for South Africa Challenge 2013.

To cut a long story short, after a number of emails, phone calls and a coffee down in Uxbridge, Gori and Hadrian asked if I would like to lead the programme for 2013.  I of course was delighted and gladly accepted.

What is the South Africa Challenge?

The South Africa Challenge is a 2 week leadership programme and cultural exchange working in partnership with the World Changers organisation.

The programme takes a team of young, driven people from the UK to Durban, South Africa. The purpose of this programme is to challenge their thought processes, understand the culture of South Africa and begin to apply their minds to world issues. In doing this we aim to create more socially responsible business leaders.

In the summer of 2012, 6 students went out to South Africa with some incredible stories on their return.

SA Team 2012

“Absolutely delighted to have been graded a first class dissertation for my South African focused case study on, ‘the challenges of achieving the human right to water!’ That one is for you Lindo Mbathason, Vusi Khambule, and World Changers Academy, South Africa Challenge 2012, my south African inspirations!” – Hadrian Tulk

“Last year’s South Africa Challenge was amazing; it was great to experience a new culture and to be around other people exploring their goals. Once it was done, I knew I wanted to do more travelling. I’ve spent the last nine months in China, and currently exploring the possibility of being part of this year’s South Africa Challenge as a Team Facilitator.” –Nas Syed

In the summer 2013, we will take a team of 6 young people out to South Africa.


My Mission, Objectives and Trends

As a part of the South Africa Challenge all of the team have been asked to record themselves answering 3 questions in less than a minute.

So here it goes.

1) Where are you now?
Description – Do a 1 minute video blog introducing yourself.

2) What are your goals?

Description – Create a 1 minute video blog outling your short terms goals (SA Challenge), medium goals (1 year from now) and long term goal (3 years from now).


3)What global trends, relating to your goals, are you going to ride?


I found this challenge really unnatural and to be honest I am sure if I look back at this in a couple of months it will probably change a lot but I think being able to look back at this in a couple of months time will be so valuable…

Onto the next challenge!

8 highlights from Loughborough Enterprise

Category : Uncategorized

Today is the first day after my internship at Loughborough students union as enterprise and employability intern. I felt that it would be a fantastic opportunity to share some of my real success stories from this year.

8) TEDx Loughborough

For the first time Loughborough hosted a TEDx conference. Curated by Youcef Hakem and his team, the theme of the conference was “Painting Humanity” and brought together thought leaders from the world of blogging about sex to a story from the london riots. I feel honoured to have been a part of delivering the conference in Loughborough and I am really looking forward to the 2013/14 conference. TEDx Loughborough

7) Simventure installation

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Peter Harrington early on during my role. Peter has been a real inspiration to me during the year. His incredible story and blog, The hitchikers guide to entrepreneurship, have really inspired me to push myself.  The software that he created Simventure allows you to simulate starting a company. During the year I was fortunate enough to lead on getting the software installed across the university campus, it is now available to all students in the university. To top of the year Peter also agreed to come and do the key note at our universities Think BIG! business ideas competition.

Peter Harrington at Think BIG!

6) Securing the role

As the higher education section changes so rapidly it felt vital to secure Loughborough’s commitment to student enterprise. It was fantastic to have the university confirm that they will continue to fund an intern until 2015.

5) Startup Showcase

As a part of the intern process I was asked to try out some new style events. The first event I tried was getting 6 of the student startup companies to come into the students union in a “chat around the campfire” talk. The purpose of this event was really to inspire more students to get their ideas into action.

Startup Showcase


During the year we became more involved with NACUE, attending and taking students to their: bootcamp, national student enterprise conference, TATA sec social enterprise conference, startup career launchpad and National leaders summit. I sat on the student advisory board and helped hosted the Midlands strategy workshop for enterprise educators at Loughborough.


4) International Development

During the year one of my primary objectives from the job description was to increase Loughborough’s reach for enterprise. Early on in the role I started to attend a number of conferences both learning and speaking on Loughborough’s enterprise set up. I was also fortunate enough to receive funding from Enterprise Rent a Car to take a team of 4 students to Finland to visit Aaloes Society. As well as heading out to New York for the Kairos Society summit after being accepted as a fellow earlier on in the year. Further to this, I had also previously been out to Washington as a part of the Enactus UK team for the Enactus World Cup. Finally, this summer I am leading a team of 5 Loughborough students out to Durban, South Africa as a part of the South Africa Challenge.

Enactus World Cup3) Publicising our Startups

Early on in the year I was approached by the marketing team to support in delivering the inspiring enteprising graduates campaign. This campaign aimed to advertise and promote Loughborough as a university that focuses on more areas than just sport. Through pushing a selection of the graduates that have incredible companies. I was really excited to be partnered with Claud Williams from The Creative Circle, one of our inspiring enterprising graduates, and am really looking forward to all of the campaign being released.

Inspiring enterprising graduates

2) Enterprise Outreach

As the enterprise section was such a big pull for me in coming to Loughborough, I was very passionate about working on how we are portrayed by universities and colleges. In order to be able to deliver this I worked with the enterprise outreach officer from the university growing a relationship with Young enterprise and working with Loughborough college. Further to this we also partnered with Claud to deliver an outreach video for colleges and schools.

Outreach video