When Zoë Mahopo made the switch from journalism to public relations, the same success wasn’t certain. “In 2016, I was awarded the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism Award for a feature that exposed the poor condition of school toilets in Gauteng township schools,” she says. Mahopo was inspired to start her own agency as South Africa entered lockdown, and cofounded The Brand Thread. “I have created content for brands like Foonda, an edu-tech company that assists young Africans to access bursaries and scholarships. I have worked on content for groundbreaking brands such as Dear Bella Sanitary Pads, Yellow Owl and Women in Physics in South Africa, among others,” she says. She encourages young storytellers to stay on their journeys, even if it’s not financially rewarding at the time. “The world does not move without people like us to help others tell their stories and communicate their messages effectively,” Mahopo says.
With a degree in architecture from the University of the Witwatersrand and a master’s in market research from the University of Pretoria, Frances MacMahon is the founder and chief executive of Meraki Research, a market research and consulting agency. She started the company five years ago amid much career uncertainty. She counts the leap of faith and determination it required as one of her proudest moments, and advises young people to follow their passions, as she did, to ensure they fulfil their potential and grow into the professionals they want to become. Through her company’s corporate social responsibility and partnerships with non-governmental organisations, MacMahon hopes to empower the youth through education and do her part to reduce the staggering youth unemployment rate in South Africa. Through this work, she hopes the youth can build successful and sustainable careers.