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Lauren Reeves | ecomafrica.org

In this feature, I chat to tech team builder, Lauren Reeves, on making bold moves.

In this feature, I chat to tech team builder, Lauren Reeves, on making bold moves.

In this feature, I chat to tech team builder, Lauren Reeves, on making bold moves.

Youth empowerment is not new to you. Can you share your journey with us?

I have mentored businesses, social impact initiatives and individuals both formally and informally for the last 6 years. Youth empowerment emerged as something of great importance to me. I have worked with many young women who were either finishing high school or entering the working world. I was a mentor for DreamGirls Academy and served on their Cape Town Executive Team for two years. I have also been a mentor for the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation for the past three years. Mentorship is a mutually supportive relationship and I have learned so much from my mentees! I believe relationships that grow each other empower both the mentor and mentee.

How did O-Bolder come about?

I have always loved having a side hustle and have dabbled in a few side projects over the years. I like to think of myself as an entrepreneurially-minded, independent woman. During COVID-19 I have been fortunate to retain my job and full salary. I wanted to set up something that could empower people during lockdown and remain sustainable going forward. O-Bolder grew from doing a few Zoom workshops after work, to building a strong team that teaches practical life skills. It’s been amazing seeing this venture grow organically into a community.

"You teach things you wish young people knew at 22" - can you tell us more about your different workshops? Who are they tailored for and what results are you hoping for those who complete the workshops?

We teach life skills in a practical way. Our workshop topics include ‘Personal Finance’, ‘Building a Life, not just a Career’, ‘How to work in Tech without Studying IT’ and ‘Mentorship 101’. All of these workshops are currently online, live webinars, which allow people to engage and ask questions. Workshops last 1-2 hours and are available on various evenings. We aim to cover topics we wish we had learned in Life Orientation at school or earlier in our careers. However, our courses are not exclusively for a younger audience. Maybe you’re starting a business, or studying, or looking for your next move. Maybe you’re after a new skill during lockdown. We’ve definitely got something that will inspire, challenge and excite you.

How do you plan on empowering young people who currently have no access to technology and cannot subscribe to the O-Bolder webinars nor have the ability to pay via credit cards/ EFT?

Great question! This is something we are actively pursuing. We’ve kept our business model lean to begin with and O-Bolder is inherently scalable. This puts us in an exciting place in terms of making our content more accessible. We’re about to start filming our webinars for those who prefer to view them in their own time and offer subscriptions. We are also in discussions with partners who have existing pipelines to get content to those who don’t have data and tech or cannot afford to attend. Look out for other upcoming advances, such as our O-Bolder internship program and O-Bolder mentorship club that we hope will further empower young people.

Why is it important for those who are “Older and Bolder” to share their knowledge with others and what legacy are you wishing for O-Bolder?

I didn’t actively seek an all-female team, but it so happened that the contacts who I reached out to (and who were willing to share their expertise) were all women. We are extremely proud to be an all-female, 65% black-managed organisation. We’re going to keep the team all-female for now, although our audience is mixed. We believe that adding South African, female voices to the online education space is important. There is a lot of content out there on various websites so our differentiator is our short courses that are contextual and practical. We have all been fortunate to have mentors in our own lives who have helped us navigate our careers, relationships and health. We would like to leave a legacy of supporting others and empowering communities to share knowledge to become bolder too.

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Mpho Sekwele

Mpho Sekwele

Mpho Sekwele, a Dartmouth College (USA) Mandela Washington Fellow for Young African Leaders Initiative, has over ten years of corporate work experience in the retail industry for Blue Chip retail companies in Africa. Mpho is an alumnus of the University of Cape Town, University of Witwatersrand and holds an Executive MBA from IEDC Bled School of Management (Slovenia). Mpho is passionate about youth and women empowerment; through sintuonline.com an eCommerce platform where contemporary African Heritage Clothing and Accessories made by young women in Africa, are sold globally; as well as BantuHikers a wellness, networking and mentorship platform for first generation students.
Lauren Reeves | ecomafrica.org

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