FOUNDER GOMO FOUNDATION
I imagined what the world would be like because we had empowered another human being to live the best version of themselves.
In July 2013, I created the Gomo Foundation to provide opportunities and resources for young women in Africa, so that they are equipped with the skill set to create a life for themselves.
I was 28 at the time and not a wealthy man, but I really wanted to make a difference in the world, just as others had a made difference to me. The challenge facing me was how I could make the difference I wanted to see in the world if I personally did not have the financial resources or knowledge in the specific area.
Gomo really started by sharing a vision with many people and many people wanting to be part of it. I was clear that I wanted to run the Foundation like a business and not a charity, so we were a business NGO.
Instead of trying to do it all ourselves, we partnered with organisations to actually run the operations of Gomo Foundation. Maddocks did our legal work, RSM Australia audited us, 131 Studio was in charge of marketing, Seed Digital is our technology partner and Servcorp provided us with a Boardroom for meetings. Getting the operational structure right was paramount to our success so that we could actually deliver on our promise to young women in Africa.
What drove you to start up/make a major change to your business/business life?
I came to Australia by myself when I was 16 years old to complete High School and raised $100k to be able to attend university and became a lawyer.
My life circumstances changed forever, now I had an opportunity to create a life for myself, on my terms. People believed that I could make a life for myself with no evidence, my sponsors would deposit money into my account with no accountability and believed that I would do the right thing i.e. pay my fees.
I then wondered what it would like to provide resources and opportunities to those who did not have what I did, and what untapped potential was being locked up because they did not have access to the same resources and opportunities. Maybe one of these young women would find the cure to cancer, maybe one of these young women would create the technology for blind people to see.
I then imagined what the world would be like because we had empowered another human being to live the best version of themselves. It’s unimaginable. I knew then that I had to take action…
What’s been your proudest moment in business?
Firstly, being able to provide resources for young women to attend Secondary School. Secondly, having a great team in Australia who are as a passionate as I am about making a difference in the lives of these young women in Zimbabwe.
I have to acknowledge, Jeremy Weeks, Chairman of the Gomo Foundation, who has been part of my journey from day one and continues to be part of the journey. His rigor to systems and processes led to the success of Gomo.
What mistake have you learned most from?
I’ve made so many mistakes, but they are only mistakes in hindsight. I have learnt so many things.
Always communicate the truth, even if it makes you look bad. Covering up things only impacts on the results you want to achieve.
I am always learning to be a servant leader. I tend to dominate conversations as I love talking and I think that ‘what I have to say is useful’. When I step in being a servant leader, I get to listen and empower my team and deliver the outcomes we actually want to make. The shift is that all the attention is not on me but on the team, the board, the beneficiaries, the schools and there is real power in that.
What would you say is the recipe for success in your sector?
Networking, collaborating and having the right people as part of the Wisdom Council, the right people on the Board, everything then takes care of itself.
What have you learned about yourself?
Too many things. I have learnt what I am very good at and learnt what I need to develop myself in.
I am good at connecting with people and influencing people and organisations.
I am developing myself in doing what I said I would do, when I said I would do it and communicating when I am not able to deliver what I said I would even if I look bad. I have discovered power in authentic communication and I am out to master this.
What has been your biggest sacrifice for the business?
There is no sacrifice. I am doing what I want to be doing.
Given what you know now, what would you do differently?
I would not set up a charity in Australia. In Australia, charities are highly regulated and the governance structures make it nearly impossible to be entrepreneurial. If you are entrepreneurial then the structure of a charity stifles innovation in Australia.
Who would you most like to employ in your business – famous or otherwise?
Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I LOVE Beyoncé. She not only a musician, she is a savvy business woman.
She had the courage to take control of her own management entirely and create powerful and effective teams around her. She does and achieves what she said she would do and gracefully. That is the kind of person I would love to employ and aspire to be.
Best piece of advice to other business owners?
Firstly, I congratulate all business owners. Taking the first step is an act of courage considering that our educational systems do not prepare us to be business owners.
For nearly all business owners there are challenges: stress, not making enough money at times to keep the business afloat, complaints from the family that they never get to spend quality time, fear of failing and being destitute. It may all seem overwhelming, I definitely feel that way myself at times. However, each moment there is an opportunity to be present to the now and focus on taking one action at a time and trust yourself to be taking the right action, then move on to taking the next action because what we do matters.