Thandi Phiri describes herself as “a lady who at one point was confronted with questions about the development of Africa and issues of leadership as well as those of young people and our direction in life”.
Looking every bit the true identity of a young inspired, as well as an inspiration, the lady, with her neat Afro, beautiful hazel brown eyes, smooth dark skin, rocking a long black dress that leaves little to imagination and accessorizing with African inspired bracelets, there is no doubt this woman knows what she wants and how to achieve it.
Phiri says, like many young graduates out there, she could not find a job after graduation and that forced her to come up with an alternative way of making a contribution to society and, with the combination of her studies and her love for African culture, she conjured up the idea of a cultural exhibition which she ultimately named Entrepreneurship and Cultural Pride Expo (ECPE) in 2011.
Phiri says it was difficult to get sponsorship for her first exhibition.
“I brought in a friend of mine, Abigail Monthe, who was really a support structure in us setting up the first exhibition. We contacted anybody and everybody to look for support and we did not get any major support besides that of Duma FM, which propelled us to a point where were then able to launch the event,” says Phiri.
She added that the third installment of the Expo promises to be bigger and better than the previous ones and “as part of the Expo this year, we also focus on education and training of the small business people who take part in the Expo to share tips and ideas on how to further grow their business”.
The objectives of the ECPE include teaching people in the creative and cultural industry on how to be more entrepreneurial using inherent talent ,learned characteristics, attributes and skills; engage in the exploration of culture as a tool for inspiration, education and, restored pride and respect in the diverse cultural identities; providing technical skills to enhance the production of services in a sustainable, professional and efficient manner as well as identifying linkages, development platforms and partnerships for the exposure and distribution of the finished product/service.
Phiri, 32, holds a degree in Business Administration and Honors in Small Business Development. She says she was provoked into asking herself questions about what changes she could make not only in her life but in the lives of those around her as well. She says she chose to study Small Business Development because it covers issues of entrepreneurship which go beyond just running a business.
“It’s about a way of thinking, creativity, productivity, taking initiative as well as working with communities – which means it applies to different kinds of people, whether they are starting up a business or working for somebody people who are able to lead within their sphere of influence,” she says.
This year’s ECPE is scheduled for the end of August at the Bojanala Water Front.