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Philile Gumede is a writer, marketer, visionary, and humanitarian. A young black woman who has started her own business, a magazine, and a non-profit group, her drive to innovate and expand hasn’t died in the eight tough years since she first ventured out on her own.
She’s most comfortable in creative spaces, working with people who respect her and who she respects.
Before she opened her own business, she says, she never felt like she quite fit in.
“I just felt there’s something bigger that I need to do, instead of just doing a nine-to-five everyday,” Gumede said. “I still do, it’s worse than that, because now I do it 24/7. But I just wanted to actually create something that had an impact.”
Gumede grew up in KwaZulul-Natal before attending the AAA School of Advertising in Cape Town. After graduating, she had several jobs in copywriting and marketing before deciding to branch out on her own.
“I was very unhappy,” she said. “I was a really grumpy employee – coming into work late, just really not inspired to be in that space. I just thought to myself one day, ‘You know what, forever is a very long time and I cannot feel like this every day, every morning when I go to work. There must be something else I should be doing instead of what I’m doing now.’”
So, in 2008, she launched Mveli Media Brand Marketing and Design Studio. The studio offers brand strategy, graphic and illustration design, content production, and publishing services to small- and medium-size businesses, social enterprises, and non-profits.
Gumede wanted to be able to pick her clients based on their social initiatives, but soon realised that it was hard to find the clients she wanted.
“We’re very specific that we want brands that actually have a social message in what they are about or what they are selling or offering,” she said. “We were just struggling to find those kinds of people.”
She realised that if she was having trouble finding other business with social messages, others must be as well. So she created The Social Investor Magazine to attract people and companies working to improve society. The magazine includes events, information, advice, and encouragement for people working in this sector.
Soon, Gumede realised that she wanted to start a charitable project of her own, in order to connect further with the companies and people she was working with. This epiphany led to the creation of the My Family Network, which offers mentors and guidance to children in orphanages and foster care in a program that encourages academic excellence, personal care, and social well being.
The My Family Network is currently in development, and will officially launch in June in the Gauteng province.
“It has not been a smooth 8 years,” Gumede said of her company’s many projects. “There’s been a lot of failing and a lot of stopping and going between all that.”
Last year, Gumede’s tenacity was awarded when she became a fellow in the Young Africa Leadership Initiative. Fellows in the prestigious program attend seminars, carry out leadership projects, and engage in their communities. The fellowship is awarded to young leaders from 25 to 35 years of age.
“No one was born with the book on how to live life perfectly,” she said. “Not even one person. So don’t worry much about what people say, just worry much about what you do for yourself.”
Listen to her podcast below: