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What inspires you? I love the process of creating things and making them a reality. So, what inspires me most is the extraordinary privilege of seeing something you have worked on manifested into reality—after it all started with just a thought. It always makes me smile, remembering that all we had while starting our first company was an idea, and how incredibly powerful human thought, the imagination and discipline can be when backed by persistence. How has your experience been as a woman in business in South Africa today? Operating largely in southern Africa at this point, being a woman has not necessarily been an impediment but rather, from my perspective, it has been a distinguishing characteristic that has given me more prominence. The biggest challenge as a female entrepreneur has, for me, always been the internal battle of appreciating my own value and trusting the validity of my own journey in the absence of external points of reference I could relate to—whereas a male entrepreneur may well have a number of external points of reference to support his journey. What is your ultimate aim in business and tech? If the African continent is to have its turn as a global leader, we must be able to capture the demographic dividend by embedding knowledge, building skills and capacitating young people faster and better than we have ever done before. This is a challenge at the core of Africa’s socio-economic development—and if I can play a role in that, I will gladly try. Tell us more about Rekindle Learning. I believe Africa must leapfrog the education and skills gap if it is to become a global leader—and technology can be a major catalyst

for that. Rekindle Learning is an innovative learning and development company providing a range of mobile and computer learning applications and performance support tools that enable a broad range of knowledge to quickly be entrenched, mastered and applied. This includes corporate training and ongoing professional learning, as well as school learning. Our tools improve learning efficiency and reduce time to competency, ensuring rapid knowledge transfer and higher workforce

“I believe Africa must leapfrog the education and skills gap if it is to become a global leader—and technology can be a major catalyst for that.”

productivity—enabling young people to be more employable. While Rekindle Learning was started over two years ago, the first time I started thinking about learning tools that could adapt to how we learn, was in high school at about 15 years of age. Back then it was more a frustration with the process of education and the inefficiencies that plagued it, and until two years ago I didn’t know that it would actually become a business. Our adaptive micro-learning application helps to reinforce and sustain learning, particularly after training and workshop sessions— if you are working—or after classroom sessions if you are a student. Instead of looking at learning as a single event, it creates opportunities for a series

of micro-learning experiences you can do in a few minutes. The tool is embedded with proven techniques that leverage the best we know about neuroscience and cognitive learning to overcome the ‘forgetting curve’. Learners are able to learn at their own pace and in a manner that adapts to how they are performing so that they experience a personalised learning process until the required level of knowledge is retained. So instead of overwhelming learners with lots of training manuals (sales, product knowledge, compliance etc.) or textbooks (English, Maths, Biology etc.), where you as the educator have no insight into what has been read or understood until test day, you can create ongoing learning events for more effective and measurable learning. We have started with our first push into academia with an English learning platform to improve written English language skills. Given that so many learners speak English as a second language, and the ailing quality of teaching at high schools, many learners arrive at university with poor writing skills and limited knowledge of grammar and language structure. Something else we will do in companies for performance support is to provide virtual coaches that guide employees through complex sales or customer service or compliance processes. In this way, everyone can apply organisational best practice, even if they are new on the job. This is quite important when you consider how long it takes for someone to master their work environment even if they have a degree. It’s almost like having GPS to guide you at work— something you can use in real time, literally as you are doing the task, without having to stop and do a course.

What does it take to succeed in business today? The challenges faced by every new startup are different, but also much the same. You have a general idea of where you want to go, and you have to take a number of small steps to refine the business idea and find a compelling value proposition that customers will pay for. It’s particularly challenging, because all you have is a hunch, an instinct, that there may be something here—and you have to keep going forward with little validation at the start, until you make a series of breakthroughs. In the process, you need to identify which resources you need to make things happen in terms of time, effort and money, and think of smart ways to keep the resource requirement to a minimum while you figure things out. This requires you to do a lot of the work yourself and to identify strategic partnerships that can help you get going without laying out a lot of capital; in the event that you need to raise funding, that is always a long and tricky road. Are there any projects in the pipeline? What can we expect from Rekindle Learning in the longer term? There are so many facets to developing the human mind. Right now, our solutions at Rekindle Learning are focused on building knowledge and expertise—essentially it’s about packaging content. But the next frontier is not about content but the mental framework that holds that content; it’s about how to build mindsets, how to drive self-management, leadership and entrepreneurial behaviour with the help of technology. That is a far less understood area, but I believe the answers will start to emerge soon.


Profile for Fast Company SA

Fast Company SA - September 2016  

Fast Company SA - September 2016