The Champion of Financial Freedom
Growing up with the unwavering belief that entrepreneurship was a part of her, coupled with the desire to help more South Africans become savvy with their finances, Nelisiwe Masango has created an impressive investment empire – before even entering her 30s.
“While some people aspired to be entrepreneurs, I was born one,” explains Masango (26), the founder and director of Bear Run Investments, an award-winning and internationally recognised investment training company. “Entrepreneurship is really about finding solutions and serving the community. I am a firm believer in ‘servant leadership’, so becoming an entrepreneur was definitely second nature because it is within me.”
It was this commitment to make a positive change in communities that saw the creation of her company.
Bear Run Investments
Masango began Bear Run Investments in 2013. She was fascinated by wealth creation, and how some people went on to become financially successful in their lives, while others did not, despite having the same amount of hours in a day. She began researching, and found out that being financially independent is mind-set based.
“With the majority of the South African population being financially illiterate, I made a decision to make a difference in the world by teaching people about personal financial management, wealth creation, long-term investing, and entrepreneurship.”
She wanted her company to be about education and skills development because “once you impart the information and the knowledge, one carries those lessons forever”. Masango continues, “It is very important for one to be financially educated as education is not just a once-off process, but an ongoing, life-long journey to financial independence.”
The Importance of Investing
South Africans are not known for their savings savviness. According to the Investec GIBS (Gordon Institute of Business Science) Saving Index released earlier this year, which measures the savings rate of South Africa and the savings behaviour of the country, South Africa scored 60.5 points at the end of 2017 – with the pass mark being 100, this does not bode well for the savings culture of the country.
Masango wants to see this change; her desire is that every South African knows the basics of finance and becomes open to improving their financial education and investing in financial literacy.
“We spend a significant amount of time working towards making money and we do not focus enough of our attention on keeping that money. As a nation, it is important for us to address these issues from within our own households and communities.”
When it comes to which industry she would personally invest in above all others, she chooses training and skills development – the industry she is currently invested in with Bear Run. “I personally feel that education, on all levels, is required to build a sustainable global economy. The late Nelson Mandela put it best when he said: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ By building a leading training company, we can empower individuals through education as well as uplift the community and those who were previously disadvantaged, through learnerships.”
The Success Equation
According to Masango, prayer, passion, and perseverance are the qualities behind her success. She makes time to meditate in order to ensure that her daily plans align with her ultimate goals, as well as to reflect on the day when business closes.
She goes on to explain, “Being passionate about what you do is important, especially as an entrepreneur. Most days are better than some so it is of paramount importance to put your passion before profits and remember why you started this journey. My father taught me to persevere in everything that I do, be it big or small. Starting strong means nothing if you are not going to finish even stronger.”
Masango believes it imperative to stay relevant as a brand and as a business for success. “The biggest mistake I made in the infancy stages of Bear Run Investments was being timid and shying away from all forms of media by attempting to build a business behind the scenes. Traditional media, as well as certain social media platforms, are power tools to reach the masses and gain the trust of your audience. The world is constantly evolving and social media plays a significant role in shaping the entrepreneurial space, therefore, all companies need to adapt and implement digital marketing,” she explains.
This entrepreneur has a lot of successes to be proud of: from starting a business in her early 20s, to having that venture become a renowned, award-winning success story. For Masango, her greatest personal accomplishment was receiving the African Entrepreneurial Visionary Leadership Innovation Award 2017 from Frost and Sullivan, while her greatest business accomplishment was being the youngest female owner of a Seta (Skills Education Training Authorities) accredited training provider in South Africa in 2018. Empowering Women
In addition to Bear Run Investments, Masango started Fefine in 2016, a nonprofit organisation that aims to encourage and empower women to come together and support one another professionally, as well as become financially independent.
Fefine has collaborated with South African brands to uplift women and help them achieve their dreams. “Sta-sof-fro has done an impeccable job at bringing a group of women together to stand as one and to inspire women from different backgrounds. Their amazing #Wearyou campaign speaks on the importance of being an individual, embracing your external beauty, but also motivates women to be bold, fearless, confident, and unapologetic about their aspirations and ability to conquer. United we stand, divided we fall!”
At only 26 years of age, Masango has risen to incredible heights in the business world – with her drive, determination, and passion for advancing positive change, she is certainly someone to celebrate, and definitely watch as she continues to build her empire.
For more information, please visit www.bearruninvestments.co.za.
The success or failure of a business is very rarely determined by macroeconomic factors alone, but rather by the elements of a business that are possible to control.