Emmanuel Bonoko shares some advice for those looking to start socially conscious companies in the year ahead. We hope it leaves you inspired by his vision, and ready to be the change you want to see in your community.
For 25-year-old Bonoko, a focus on building, maintaining, and growing a network has proven invaluable in getting his social enterprise off the ground. He’s had the opportunity to learn from and work with the likes of Teboho Mafodi, Phuti Mahanyele, Thebe Ikalafeng and Edward Ramodibedi. And, it’s an opportunity he wants to pass on to other entrepreneurs through his Ebonoko Foundation.
“Every time I speak to entrepreneurs I mention the power of networking and mentorship and how this is a crucial part of the journey. I was lucky enough to receive advice and support from some great leaders, and would like other young people to experience the same.”
The Ebonoko Foundation focuses on developing future leaders by donating books to schools, and linking learners with influential leaders for mentorship and coaching. To date the Foundation has donated over 12 000 books and mentored hundreds of young people.
Bonoko says social entrepreneurs must be driven by “the change they want to see”. This passion comes first, followed closely by the discipline required to get a business off the ground. For Bonoko the fact that social entrepreneurship was a relatively unknown concept when he started out was a key challenge. And he has faced plenty of rejection over the years. But his passion to bring about change in his community pushed him to continue.
All the hard work has paid off and Bonoko has received many accolades along the way; most recently he was
named one of 100 Young Visionary Leaders by Real Leaders magazine. He was also one of five South African entrepreneurs featured on the Forbes Africa 30 under 30 list in 2016, was named a Lead-SA Hero by Radio 702 and
The Star newspaper in 2014, and was featured in Mail & Guardian’s list of influential people in the same year.