Article by Siphiwe Tsheu
Tshepiso Malema is more than just a “Kasi” boy; he’s a young influencer, an inspiration and an entrepreneur. Malema is the founder of the Tshepiso Malema Speaks Initiative, an NPO based in Ivory Park. He is also the founder of Gamer’s Territory, a facility that provides incredible gaming experience for young people around Ivory Park, Tembisa and surrounding areas. He is currently writing a book that seeks to tell the story of his life.
Growing up in a Christian home really helped Malema build a solid foundation, though this changed in the course of time, especially when he went to high school.
I can say I had a spiritual up-bringing; I grew up in a Christian home, going to church. But I can literally say that my life started when I was doing grade 9. I can say the greatest highlight of this time was when I lost my father who was basically the closest person to me. This was a difficult time, and during this time I had to do a serious introspection.
It was quite a difficult period as everything took an unexpected turn. “My mother at that time was unemployed, and she was selling Table Charm products such as Tupperware. I think that’s where the entrepreneurial spirit in me came from.” This challenged him to begin to make changes in his character and behaviour that would affect both his present life and future.
One of the things he had to change was taking his studies seriously, especially when he went to do his grade 10 the following year. “Due to the fact that I had not been taking my studies seriously ever since I started in high school, so grade 8, 9 & 10 I was condoned. Then came the part where I had the challenge of choosing subjects in grade 10. But I always knew somehow about my passion for IT so at that time I did CAT (Computer Application Technology). So when I went to grade 10, I had to choose a stream that had CAT and the only stream that had that subject was the science stream. That was another turning point where I had to go to the Science stream when all my friends went to the general stream.”
So in grade 10 he had to put more work and time to ensure he got good grades so he could study IT after matric. The greatest highlight of his life that he says was a starting point for great things was when his first blog update received more than 500 readings. “When my first blog update received more than 500 reads, that pushed me to make a difference because I realized that people wanted more of me.”This is how the organisation was started, through a blog.
As I was doing CAT at school, I learnt a lot about blogs. So the idea of creating the blog was to inspire young people around the township who had lost hope, and had given up. So through that I ended up giving motivational talks, and that’s where the organization started in 2019.
Part of his inspiration for starting the organization was kindled by his current mentor, Emmanuel Bonoko, who was also doing great things through his organisation.
He says that success is beyond what a person has, but by their impact. “I’m one person who doesn’t measure success with what a person has, but by the impact they make.” Last year in 2020, he hosted a motivational drive which sought to inspire matrics with their studies and helping them get through the preliminary & final exams. Through his organisation Tshepiso Malema Speaks, he also hosted a Christmas lunch which aimed at providing proper meals and a “Christmas feel” to young children from the local community.
He adds that another great highlight that changed his life completely was during a career expo which hosted the former minister of science and technology, Ms Naledi Pandor. “During this career day, after the minister had given her speech, she gave the floor (mainly learners) to ask questions. The whole crowd was afraid to ask. I then for some reason lifted my hand to ask a question pertaining to a business idea that I had, for which I needed the thoughts of the minister.”
From then Malema got the attention of many other business people who were there. This gesture opened doors of mentorship opportunities from business people, and opportunities to be interviewed & covered by media houses such as eNCA, when he was still a matric student representing the class of 2020. He has been featured on several publications such as the Tag my school Magazine, Alex Fm, The Township Brand Blog, a business magazine that covers entrepreneurs & The Tembisan newspaper. Malema has also won numerous prizes from different competitions, one of which was an entrepreneurial competition, namely the Student For Advancement of Global Entrepreneurship award.
The entrepreneurial competition was a competition where we had to pitch a business idea to the judges, but unfortunately due to Covid-19, I had to record the pitch as a video. To cut the long story short, I won 2nd place from all the contestants, where the top 3 would compete for a single position to represent their province nationally. I was glad to also have made it to the national stage, and represented South Africa on the global stage, and the rest is history.
Tshepiso Malema is currently studying towards a degree in BIT information Systems. He also plans to get funding to grow his business Gamer’s Territory, and his vision is to spread or open gaming centres at malls all around the country in the next few years. “I would like to encourage anyone who wants to start a business that whatever you’re planning to start, just go for it, stop procrastinating. Anything is possible.”