Rachel Nekati, an affable woman with an infectious laughter built an impressive career in the banking industry for 12 years.
And then she took a leap of faith to pursue entrepreneurship and succeeded.
“My time in the demanding banking industry provided invaluable experience that included acquiring professional Executive training and International exposure. This paved way to my setting a business of my own and 11 years later I have never been happier.”
Nekati says that although she found her previous professional commitment fulfilling she had always harbored a passion for business from a very young age.
“I was highly inspired by my dad who was a very seasoned dynamic and passionate businessman. He taught me that hard work rewards. He was a self-driven individual and never believed in failure. He always assured his children that, anyone can become anything they choose or aspire to. I still greatly cherish those moments I spent with him, with great admiration. Both my parents were a great example of balance. Everything had its time. That is, there was always time for family, spirituality, business and other activities.” Complementing all she learnt from her parents, Nekati says her Bachelor of Commerce Academic qualification coupled with the exposure in the financial Sector and mining industry, contributed immensely to her desire to consolidate all the learning to venture into a field that explores her skills and competencies.”
As a training consultant, Nekati offers organizations and highly placed individuals a platform to flourish in their own chosen paths.
Participants are exposed to programmes such as customer service and emotional intelligence.
“I aid people to unlock their full potential and nothing gives me greater joy.”
Being both creative and analytical gives Nekati a winning streak. No challenge fazes her.
She points out that to attain success and balance life demands of work, family and societal commitments one must be adequately prepared.
“Failure to plan is planning to fail. I plan everything and anything I do. I firmly believe that if I don’t plan nor have structure in what I do, someone else will. This allows me to give priority and time to things that are important and matter in my life.” Nekati points out to the importance of having a supportive family. “I am truly blessed to have a loving family that supports my interests. They are also brutally honest and keep me grounded. Nekati also says it helps that her family gets involved and this builds them together. On lessons learnt throughout her journey, Nekati says; “I can simply write a book. Like the saying goes, ‘too many to mention. However it is important to note that before something great happens, everything falls apart but one does not stop until reaching their goal.”
Almost philosophically, she continues to say; every woman should be advised not to be defined by age or gender, as one can become anything they want.
“It’s a competitive world we live in, so don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo whilst upholding your principles. Never be apologetic to play your diverse roles and make time for YOU. Nekati is also a qualified spin instructor and offers sought after classes at a popular up market gym. With a boisterous laugh she concludes our chat with; “The 20’s are simply a dress rehearsal for the real self. With great self-awareness, consciousness and life’s experiences that one gets exposed to, it is true that life begins at 40…
Until August 2016, Tshesebe born Bakani July Johnson was a Lecturer at the University of Botswana under Social Work Department.
“I have worked intensively in the psychosocial field since 2004, gaining experience clinically as a Social Welfare Case Manager prior to joining the University in 2014.
Johnson who holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Social then relinquished her job to become the founder and director of The African Girls Collection also known as The A Girls.
“As a Social entrepreneur my focus is on offering new ideas for wide-scale social change. She admits that leaving work meant forgoing certain benefits such as prospects of being sent for even higher learning. Her decision was not made lightly or overnight.
“Entrepreneurship is not a new phenomenon to me; I come from a family of entrepreneurs and started selling varied items, house to house in Tshesebe. I would get commission from items sold. This was my mother’s business, which she incorporated us into.”
Johnson’s business aims to present user-friendly, understandable, and ethical ideas that engage widespread support in order to maximize the number of youth that will stand up, seize their ideas, and implement them.
Her interest stems from her attitude of ‘what you seek, seeks you too’
I have always loved children and it is ironic that I created a product that is aligned with children.
As part of children development I am forever looking for ways to enhance their wellbeing and this led to the realisation that there are no black dolls to use during clinical sessions with my little patients.
The search for the black doll for my sessions was not easy.
The more I searched the more I got challenged to create the doll I was looking for as there were none readily available in the market. Since 2007 I have worked from thought to product.”
She says that although it was a well researched and thought out move, she was anxious.
“As an individual I take responsibility for my actions. If I am to be the best lecturer and give the best to my students I have to be present to fulfill what the students need from me. To be a businesswoman I needed to go knee deep to make it work. The two were not compatible and the business side of me won. I was also financially ready for such a venture.”
From all that, Amani, Ayah and Arefa were born
The success of the three dolls has transcended borders and indeed continents having reached international heights with their biggest being listing with AMAZON.
The background of the girls is that they are born to a Motswana Mother who is a Doctor and a Kenyan Father who is a Chef. The girls are triplets but very unique.
Amani is more like their father, adventurers and loves cooking, Arefa is more like their Mother, Miss book worm and story teller aspiring to be a Doctor, Miss Ayah is Miss Glitter, loves fashion and design and is her own person in the family, outspoken and inquisitive.”
Johnson says that through the dolls, adults and children can appreciate and learn love.
Love teaches us to be diverse, hence the combination of Swahili/Arabic and Tswana names.
I have learnt not to think locally but to focus on Africa as a whole.
Johnson makes the observation that the growth of her business and indeed business in general is that it will be stimulated by partnerships.
The more you understand business the more you see opportunity. Partnering at different levels with others is beneficial.
I am working with so many individuals who want to run with certain aspects of the product and I have never been as relieved as the agreements come to birth.
I know now you cannot do it alone! It is practically insane to think that.
Expressing gratitude for all the support she has received especially from her greatest cheerleaders, her family, Johnson says, “I would not have leaped if it were not for my family, maybe I would even have leaped earlier had I not been unprepared mentally. My husband Douglas Johnson has been the foundation of all of this; he questioned, poked and moulded every thought I had. Financially I am grateful for the family to have allowed me to take risks.”
The new status of entrepreneurship has affected the
Johnsons positively. “We are both learning that there is something else outside of the eight to five work. It has taught us to take risks together and our trust for each other’s passion and believe in each other’s journey has been heightened.
Johnson may not be raking in the big bucks yet but she is relived that the company is starting to make profit.
Upon reflection she says were she to do it all over again she would have sought capital (grant/loan) before turning 35 and perhaps started the business earlier.
“I think I fantasized about being self made for too long struggling to save money then investing into business. I guess it was the fear of debt and lack of knowledge in business. I now know better.