24 years ago, I left South Africa with a backpack to travel …and I am still here. Every day I am in the UK now, is one day longer than I spent in South Africa. Those who have emigrated and immigrated will know what this feels like to make a home in country that’s not your birthplace. It’s tough! Along with the many aches and pains, there are also many highs – in everyday life, at home, in the office and in business.
After many rewarding years teaching and tour guiding around Europe and the Balkans, I found my niche in business – something I wanted to do primarily to serve others. Little did I realise the impact it would have on me…
Going into Business
For a long time I have seen many South African businesses in the UK struggle to grow (for many reasons) and I believed I could serve this community – give them the opportunities to market their products and services, help raise their profile, increase their skill level, join a tribe of like-minded people who ‘get’ each other, understand their accents and can relate to their South Africanisms. My Celebrate Southern African brand was born out of this need, and over the years I have watched others in the community grow, which has given me immense satisfaction. Sadly, people don’t always tell you how you are helping them, they don’t always express victories you have helped them achieve, and they may not voice their thanks. I just plodded along, hoping that what I was doing was making a difference.
Then came the nomination for a South African Chamber of Commerce award…
So, I was having an impact, even if on just one person. To make the shortlist and be a finalist was an incredible feeling. I went back to read the criteria for the award I had been nominated for. In my heart I hoped I met most of them – leadership, sustainability, potential – all concepts I aspire to. In my head, I wasn’t so sure I met all the criteria.
It’s amazing what you can’t see from your own perspective. I proudly won the Micro Business of the Year 2018, and every day that I see the trophy, proudly displayed in my office, I am reminded of the work I do for the South African community. I am clearly on the right track. On the days when I feel down, or less motivated, this recognition pulls me up from that dark place and gives me the energy I need to continue – continue to serve this community that means so much to me. I often read the criteria again to remind myself of what I can, should and am doing. The community does recognise and appreciate all that I do. This award is evidence of that.
And, as a finalist and a winner, the Chamber of Commerce is offering a free Professional Development programme and mentoring opportunity, which will help me grow as a person, which will of course have an even bigger impact on my business.
Celebrate Southern Africa is not just a little event that evolved into a business. The brand is about being connected, feeling a part of a community and believing that I can do even more, grow and serve my community even better. Winning an award for the work I am doing is about knowing that the work I do is valued and that I am making a difference. It does really mean so much to me.
Thank you everyone for your warmth, love and support – it is overwhelming at times, but lovely.
Nominations for 2019 are OPEN
If you would like to nominate someone for the South African Chamber Awards 2019, please follow THIS LINK. Show them you value what they do, and you are proud to have them in our South African community.