Simba Mswaka (MBA FT 2018) is a Business Consultant at EY (Ernst & Young) and the UCT GSB Alumni Chapter Lead for Zimbabwe.
For many years I have been involved in the entrepreneurship space in Africa – working with start-ups in Zimbabwe and Cameroon, both running programmes, mentoring and writing articles. I also managed to secure partnerships, not only locally, but in Botswana, South Africa, Mauritius and in the USA to enable young entrepreneurs to learn more broadly. Having grown up in Zimbabwe and Botswana, before studying my two degrees in South Africa, I know how important it is to work across cultures. I am currently working as a Business Consultant at EY (Ernst & Young).
For many years I have been passionate about the possibilities that entrepreneurship offers. My first foray was in 2008 when I founded an events business with my best friend in Johannesburg. We had a great four years creating a brand called ‘Urban Royalty’ that was popular amongst Jo’burgers.
We all know that entrepreneurs go through very hard times to pursue their dreams and grit, determination and perseverance are important. Start-ups have a 90% failure rate so as a founder, you are already up against it. For me a strong why is critical. My biggest motivation is the scarily high unemployment rate in Africa. The ability to employ one person who can, in turn, provide for three or four other people is the ultimate reason I believe start-ups are critical to Africa’s growth.
Being intentional with your time
Studying at GSB impacted my life significantly. It helped me access abilities that I never knew were inside of me. The personal development from doing the MBA is huge and it impacts many parts of your personal and professional life. I often use the skills I learn to coach young entrepreneurs, particularly teaching them how to pitch for funding and structure their businesses.
One thing I learned quickly during the MBA year was that in order to balance all these things that are competing for your time, one has to be very intentional about how you spend it. One of my sayings during the MBA year was “work hard, but don’t forget to play.” As highly ambitious individuals we are sometimes guilty of getting on the hamster wheel of working and tend to neglect all the other parts of life that make it whole. I try to be intentional by, for example, calling that friend you haven’t seen in a while for dinner.
Joining the Zimbabwe Alumni Chapter
As the Alumni Chapter Lead, my goal is to keep our alumni up-to-date about what is happening at the GSB and any potential opportunities that could be of benefit to them. The Chapter also shares knowledge and connections with academic staff, so that members can make use of the GSB resources. And lastly the Chapter will be a great place to socialise and give back to future students that are looking to start their academic journey at the GSB.
The best part of being part of the Alumni Chapter is connecting with colleagues that I last saw in Cape Town and being able to meet new people. I also enjoy sharing the stories of our different experiences at the GSB and fond memories of “Ze Brig.” Alumni that want to join the chapter are very welcome and they can contact me via email or send me a message on LinkedIn and I would be glad to have them involved in the chapter.