Meet Sothini Ziba, a Social Entrepreneur. He is the founder of Phukira, a Social Enterprise which offers process, impact research, and system diagnosis and optimization services.
Join us below as we learn more about Sothi and the big, little strides he is taking to bring a positive impact to his community and Africa at large.
- How do you describe yourself?
I am a curious, enthusiastic individual with a passion for viable, evidence-based solutions for our problems in relation to future needs. I learn from every opportunity, article and research and apply critical and innovative thinking in solving community and sectorial needs. My main interest is in those things that improve efficiency, impact and progress or growth both to me as an individual and for my community or clients
- How do you juggle your carrier and all the other projects that you are currently working on?
I recently took a bold step to fully focus on Phukira, an organization I founded while I was still employed. This gives me enough time to commit to projects, learn and network as well as think about growth and building a team around our services.
- What motivated you to start ‘Phukira’?
Phukira resonates with my personal story in which I think of myself as a seed. We ought to recognize opportunities where we are and grow roots, improve, multiply and produce good fruit for others as well. A seed waits and only puts its roots when conditions are right. Phukira’s journey is a response to a market niche in systems support, design, process improvement, and nurturing of early-stage businesses and non-profits in Africa. I responded to early-stage organizational needs in a very fluid way. When I transitioned from employment, a lot of young people in my network needed help with one thing or another. This prompted me to formalize my engagements, invest the growth of my skills and focus on becoming a go-to person in my ecosystem.
- When was Phukira founded?
Phukira kicked off as an individual consultancy offering once-off services to clients. In 2020, we formalized it and registered Phukira as a Social enterprise. This new model allowed us not only to avoid being transactional but also to enhance mutual accountability of our success, learning, and growth journey with our clients. We emphasized that our partners and clients grow skills capacity and be able to move up the ladder in delivering superb services with our continuous technical support
- What does ‘Phukira’ have to offer to African Youth?
Our services are very fluid. A lot of youth start their businesses and non-profits from full passion and opportunity. It’s very common that they do not fully know how to navigate the sector and identify needs and growth pathways for impact and scale.
Our model invokes a diagnostic and advisory approach based on our market expertise. We help youth-led organizations map out their journey and support key building blocks for their next chapter of growth.
These services go beyond business development to as early as ideation, designing and proofing systems for the impact such as M&E, HR, Communication and engagement/fundraising, building relevant teams, leadership coaching and mentoring.
- How much at a minimum should someone have to benefit from Phukira Services?
We have various categories in our pricing model divided based on our customer segments.
Entry-level start-ups access our discounted services that allow them to diagnose and understand our potential journey together. On the other hand, established businesses and portfolios which are funded pay up to $50 expert office hour engagement
- To how many organizations has Phukira been of service so far?
Cumulatively, we celebrate having worked with over 30 private organizations in profit and non-profit sector, 13 individuals, 1 grant-making portfolio with over 90 organizations. Phukira has also worked with other expert affiliate communities in which Phukira is a member such as the Movement of Community-Led Development.
- Where do you see Phukira in 5 years?
The Phukira brand intends to expand from a mere lynchpin in service advisory sector for ignored technical prerequisites to full venture capitalists in Southern Africa. We also intend to broaden in-house business ideation, development, and VC and Angel Investment approach.
- What are some of the challenges you face as you run Phukira?
As a new entrant on a market which already has experience, we bemoan the transactional service business approaches that are on the market. This has in the long run deteriorated trust among service providers and clients. A lot of our clients were given blueprints they did not know how to use. It’s difficult for them to commit to our rather strange model where we go with them to the engine room and collaboratively design solutions and wait them out to observe, adjust and celebrate the impact and growth in the long term.
- How do you overcome such challenges?
We have a collaborative and partnership model that improve trust and buy-in among our clients. We become part of their journey.
- Apart from running your organization, what would you say are the 3 most important things you do that keep you going. (Name any, e.g. Hobbies, how you unwind and recharge)
- I enjoy reading current affairs and arguing about international and local affairs over a nice whiskey
- I enjoy travel and meeting new people with diverse cultural experiences
- I don’t usually miss a Man United game
- What other projects are you working on currently?
- I am one of the lead technical experts in running a micro-entrepreneurship program for underprivileged youth and women. We anticipate training and supporting 2000 youth businesses in the next 2 years
- Our in-house project, Phukira Digital finance was nominated for the Total Energies start-up of the year under the ideation category
- If DYV is to host a panel discussion on any topic you are passionate about (and which affects the African Youth), what would it be?
I would be keen to talk about systems and youth capacity, entrepreneurship, mindset changes and
power of networks.
Interviewed by: Consolata Mthetwa
Edited by: Jonas Zaithwa Chisi