Ntsiki Mkhize (@Ntsiki_Mkhize) is a Social Entrepreneur, Author of My Hall of Mentors, Professional Speaker, Miss South Africa 2nd Princess 2015 and Founder of MentHer, a global mentorship network supporting female social entrepreneurs. Ntsiki is currently completing her Masters in Social Innovation, with years of experience working with start-ups and nonprofits she is passionate about using business as a vehicle to solve socio-economic issues. Ntsiki believes in empowering women to discover their purpose, build their brand and business to create a meaningful life and to find mentors who can support them on their journey.
Tell us and our lovely readers what is it that you do?
I’ve recently launched MentHer, a global mentorship network supporting female social entrepreneurs. I believe women are the backbone of society and so many women work in the non-profit or third sector as volunteers or running organisations that struggle with funding. The vision with MentHer is what we call #ICE, to inspire, connect and empower.
We inspire women through meaningful conversations and inform them about social entrepreneurship and how to create sustainable hybrid business models. To then connect them with other female social entrepreneurs and mentors, both in their country and abroad. Finally we aim to empower women with tools for personal and business confidence, to understand their personality and play to their strengths and use that to optimise their business and team. Part of empowering also involves workshops and online courses to share pragmatic tools on how to start and run a social enterprise.
What is your story? How did you end up here?
I’ve always known I wanted to be in business, when I was in school I thought I would open my own advertising agency as I didn’t see enough representation on TV as a child. So when I went to University I studied marketing and started my first business in my first year with a friend, launching Young Hustla, a comic book to educate youth about entrepreneurship. During that process of trying to get the comic published, I met one of my mentors, Christoff Oosthuysen. Oosthuysen is the author of ‘Results! How to succeed in a fast changing world with a 1page business plan’, a business coach and at the time was a publisher of a business newspaper we wanted to put the comic in. We connected really well and after explaining to him I had this vision to create a positive impact in the world, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it, he offered me a few free coaching sessions. So every Tuesday on my lunch break we’d have a coaching call and over a series of weeks my purpose became clear – to inspire, connect and empower women to be the best version of themselves. Once I completed my honours, I quit my job in corporate and began my full-time entrepreneur journey. It was an easy decision to make as a 23 year old at the time though I faced a lot of resistance from my parents. I explained to them I wanted to do something meaningful and build my career as a speaker and facilitator. They didn’t understand what I wanted or how I was going to get there. We made a pact that if I wasn’t successful by 30 then I’d stop and go find “a real job”. So the years thereafter were a bit pressure packed as I worked with different non-profits, social enterprises and universities and in 2019 I decided to go do my Masters in Social Innovation to bring together everything I know, fill in any gaps and be better able to serve. Each project I have been a part of has built my confidence and expertise in some form and they all combine to enable me to be the kind of founder that I believe can create and contribute something impactful and meaningful.
Do you have a “WHY” for why you do what you do?
My why is fuelled by my purpose. Everything I do has to inspire and empower. Everything I do builds on my natural gifts that I have developed over the years as a speaker, author and someone who genuinely enjoys connecting with and helping people. Women are always inspired to help and support, it’s what they do on a daily basis. The world just needs to create more systems that support them to do that. I don’t just want to talk entrepreneurship and say more women should do it, understanding the dynamics of being a woman I want to challenge how things are traditionally done as we create spaces that allow women to build businesses they love, that support their lifestyle and create impact in their communities. I also believe that people who drive social change should be able to earn a salary and run sustainable businesses, this message that “earning while doing good is bad” is counterproductive. Women must be able to earn a living doing what they love especially if it’s doing good in the world. The value you add deserves to be rewarded – simple cause and effect – they need the money to sustain themselves and their families and, most importantly, to be able to keep serving their beneficiaries. If we don’t talk about this money block, then everyone loses. We can’t afford to lose the soup kitchens, shelters, after care, extra-curricular activities, outreach, and environmental etc. Programmes set up out of the goodness of said women’s heart. They make a difference, they help lives, they save society and when we have the right conversations we can figure out how to help those women to generate income and not be grant dependent and we can find alternative economic models that get funding from other interest groups to support beneficiaries that can’t afford that product or service.
What are your plans for the future?
On a personal level, I submit my dissertation next week and I’m so excited to have new free time to focus on MentHer. As a professional speaker I want to niche my space and grow as a thought leader on social entrepreneurship and impact in Africa. Helping bridge gaps among the various players in the entrepreneurial ecosystem to ensure we’re better able to create and support social-startups. As an author I’d love to write a social start-up founders manual sharing the tips on how to get started and the stories of women who’ve made it work.
On the business side, since launching MentHer in May 2020, we’ve been hosting Instagram live conversations to share information and grow our community. In September 2020 we’ll be launching our MentHer membership for social enterprise founders. Women who want to gain a MentHer membership are in the early stages of running a social enterprise. We have ten mentors lined up to offer a different set of skills and expertise with our ladies who will rotate workshops with each of the mentors, but have additional access to them for any additional questions. We also want to launch our first course on setting up a social enterprise and our merchandise collection that makes women feel part of a community. In the next year we hope to double our numbers, impact and reach with quality content and a quality community built for and influenced by the women it supports. In that community we hope to create a digital marketplace to give our founders a place to introduce their minimum viable product to the market and get feedback. At the end of 2021 we hope to have made social entrepreneurship just a tad bit cooler.
What is the best about being who you are?
The best part about being me is the beauty of having been able to build the life I wanted and environment for myself. It’s empowering and rewarding to be able to live out my purpose each day and it’s a gift I wish for everyone. The way I’ve designed my life also offers me the opportunity to meet and work with different people giving me more in-depth learning and understanding about things I would not have come across by myself.
What does your day look like?
I’m a night owl and my most productive and creative hours are between 10pm and 2am. I also designed my life to not have to be anywhere before 10am, so I have my morning to plan, rest, think about the day or whatever I choose to use that time for. Each day is different based on personal demands and clients bookings. I recently got engaged and we’ve bought a home so there’s a lot of planning for that underway, although most of it is in the air pending the easing of lockdown regulations. I aim to have Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as full work days which will include coaching calls, client presentations, facilitating workshops etc. Mondays are reserved for planning (courses, social media, product, key engagement that need to happen etc.) and admin, then Fridays I try to reserve for a recap of the week and filming content or PR (engaging on other peoples platforms, interviews etc.). Although it’s not down to a science, everything has been quite messy with the lockdown. I’ve had to work when I can, accommodate family 24/7 and integrate household work into almost each day at random times.
What business-related tips and advice do you have for our readers?
Organising and getting things done as an entrepreneur is critical, there’s no boss so if you don’t work things don’t happen. One planning and execution tool I use without fail is knowing my one thing, based on the book The One Thing by Gary W. Keller and Jay Papasan. For my goals I identify the one thing I need to do each day to move the needle forward to ensure my yearly goal is met, so when things get chaotic and all structure fails I know the one thing to get done or focus on that day.
One of the things I speak and facilitate is knowing your personality as an entrepreneur and my favourite tool for this is the Enneagram (there’s a free test online). It’s a 2000 year old personality test that not only tells you how you’re naturally wired, but also tells you how your natural wiring performs when you’re at your worst (the unhealthy level caused by stress) and what you need to be at your best. I find at the start as a one woman team it’s important to know what your natural talents or strengths are so you use them to your benefit and know where you need help so you can focus on building those competencies or hiring for that skill-set first. It also helps you know what you’re good at, so if you are like me and are a Type 7 – The Entertainer, an extroverted big picture thinking connector that enjoys engaging with people then the sales and pitching aspect is easy for you, but the logistical structure stuff isn’t as easy. So finding a business partner that gets systems and detail planning would be an excellent advantage to the business, especially one you get to the growth and scaling stage.
Finally as a believer in living a life of purpose on purpose, get clarity on what you want and where you want to be. Lisa Nicholls has a fantastic visualisation exercise available on YouTube. I’d also recommend you answer The Three Most Important Questions by Vishen Lakhi on MindValley which you can also find on YouTube. Being clear on what you want to experience, how you want to grow and what you want to experience can help spark some thinking towards discovering your purpose.
What mindset advice do you have for our readers?
Empowering yourself with Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is important. Knowing your personality will help you understand your triggers and enable you to self-regulate. Six Seconds.Org has a lot of fantastic free tools on their website.
I’m also a big believer in positive affirmations. We all have our own patterns of negative thinking that sparks negative emotions that can lead to negative action. Based on my usual negative thoughts (either doubtful or fuelled by fear and anxiety or effacing) I take time to get into a positive space and imagine the best for myself and believe I’m worthy of that and then I write positive affirmations from that space, so they are ready to use when my mind decides to play the enemy. If you struggle with this, you can find ones online and say these on the daily, not just when you’re not feeling or thinking your best. Also be kind and gentle with yourself, we can’t heal and grow if we harshly judge our every thought or action. Also remember that not everyone sees you with your same lens of self-criticism, so don’t hold back because it’s not perfect or you’re afraid of judgement, more often than not you’ll get congratulated and feedback (even if it totally bombs) it’s good to have the feedback so you know what to do differently.
I always tell myself “you never know until you try”, trying gives you confidence as practice makes things better before it makes them perfect and I consider it an absolute honour to be able to try what I want, how wonderful it is to make mistakes on the path you’ve chosen doing what you love.
You also joined one of our courses - which one? Why did you join it, and did it end up being helpful in any way?
Accountability is important to me and so I signed up for the Empire Building Masterclass, one because I wanted to get unstuck, two I wanted a fresh perspective on moving forward and three I wanted that community of accountability with like minded women equally excited and anxious to build our own business.
You never know what you don’t know and EBM opened so many tabs for things to think about and also shared tools to help me through those thinking points, which is great. I also find the fact that you’re going through a course with a specific end goal to launch a business to be helpful because you’re tracking yourself over the weeks to make progress and have something at the end.
We are sure our readers would love to check out your website and your social media. Maybe you even have some special offers that our readers can grab!
I’m so thankful you took the time to read this blog and I hope you’re feeling inspired to take the next step to creating the life you dream of. One little step is better than nothing and in the end, they all add up.
I know creating the life you want takes work – lots of it and sometimes it can be difficult feeling like you’re doing it alone. I’ve done the work and would love to share my book with you; My Hall of Mentors - lessons learned along a journey of success, available on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/My-Hall-Mentors-Lessons-learned-ebook/dp/B07KRBTD7G) true to the sub-title, success is a journey you’re always learning and discovering and succeeding in new ways each day. Each chapter has a reflection section where I hope you’ll find a way to apply each of the lessons I’ve learned from my mentors to your life.
I have a wonderful “As I Am Purpose Planner” that I’d love to share with you. It’s a free download on my website (https://ntsikim.co.za/). The planner isn’t just about planning the year ahead, but shares goal setting exercises to help you track as you go and set goals with each segment of your life pie in mind. It also includes a purpose statement and affirmations sections where you’ll be guided in jotting down your purpose and affirmations aligned to you.
I’m from South Africa and for us August is Women’s Month, where we celebrate National Women’s Day on the 9th and I have two awesome free events I’d like to share with you.
On the 22nd and 23rd of August I’ll be part of the SME Women Virtual Entrepreneurship and Investing Summit with speakers from all around the world, you can book your free seat here: https://sme-women-global-virtual-entrepreneurial-investi.heysummit.com/
Then on the 27th I’ll be hosting a “Celebrate your diversity through the enneagram” session with my good friend and business partner Joni Peddie who is the CEO of Resilient People. If you want to learn more about different personality types and how you’re naturally wired and how to play to your strengths you can reserve your seat for free here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJMvcu2hqz8tGNTOhWmUPrSdUVr1YaPIeWd0
I’d love to connect with you on social media, you can find me @Ntsiki_Mkhize, also join our MentHer social entrepreneur community on Instagram @menther_int to find insightful interviews on our live and get the latest as we grow.
My wish for you is that you win in life and may you fearlessly pursue your dreams.
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